Fraternities and sororities will be prohibited from holding fall rush for freshmen beginning next year, Yale College Dean Mary Miller and Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry announced in a campus-wide email Thursday afternoon.
The change in the Undergraduate Regulations was first recommended in April by the Committee on Hazing and Initiations, which formed in response to the offensive chants of Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges in fall 2010. Gentry said the rule only applies to Greek organizations and is intended to give new freshman adequate time to evaluate their extracurricular opportunities and to finish freshman orientation. Gentry will chair an implementation committee to draft the specifics of the policy, he added, and five members from Greek organizations will sit on the committee to provide input.
Silliman Master Judith Krauss, who chaired the Committee on Hazing and Initiations, said the committee found that in the spring, freshmen are able to make more educated decisions about the organizations they join because they have been exposed to hazing education programs and are more adjusted to college life.
“A freshman is more likely in the spring term than in the fall term to know hazing when they see or experience it and might be better equipped to ‘say no,’ .” she said.
Although most fraternities are not registered as student organizations with the Yale College Dean’s Office, fraternity leaders are required to comply with the regulations as Yale undergraduates. Two fraternity leaders interviewed said they do not think the new policy will be effective in addressing hazing issues on campus.
Jamey Silveira ’13, president of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, said fraternities provide a platform for freshmen to get more involved in the Yale community. Although he came to Yale not knowing anybody, Silveira said he “got over his homesickness” by joining his fraternity. He added that he learned about academics and other opportunities through interactions with upperclassmen in the fraternity.
Because the administration will be postponing the rush by only a few months, he said he does not think this new policy will significantly impact the maturity level of freshmen students.
Avi Arfin ’14, president of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity — the only fraternity registered with the Dean’s Office — said AEPi does not haze, and other organizations besides the Greek ones are often guilty of the hazing process.
“There are organizations on campus that have pretty serious hazing,” he said. “If the administration wants to address hazing they need to look at a broader, more cultural picture than just demonizing the frats and saying it is a Greek problem.”
On Thursday afternoon before the new policy was announced, administrators called Greek leaders together to inform them of the change and discuss the next step — forming a committee to determine the guidelines of the restriction. Gentry said this temporary implementation committee will “make clear what would be a violation.”
Silveira said serving on the implementation committee will be the first chance for fraternities to provide input. Silveira said he applied to sit on the Committee on Hazing and Initiations but never received a response. He added that he remains hopeful that there may still be room to “tailor this in a way that it doesn’t completely throw our plans out of whack.”
“It’s unfortunate because it seems like ideally, I would have been part of the decision committee,” he said. “A lot of the concerns brought up today are the kinds of things that would have made the administration rethink this policy, and perhaps take a more friendly stance.”
Silveira said the new policy will affect ADPhi because the fraternity has only one rush period, which takes place in the fall. Rush occurs in the fall, he said, because about half of the pledge class are members of the varsity lacrosse team who begin their season in the spring. Silveira added that he has not yet come to a conclusion about how ADPhi will adjust its rush process.
Arfin said he thinks the administration does not realize the full extent to which his fraternity is a Jewish cultural organization as well as a fraternity. He said fall rush is important because during Jewish holidays that take place in the fall, many freshmen enjoy having a group of students going through a similar experience.
“Freshman who join in the fall can find it to be a huge comfort to go through this religious and cultural experience with a brotherhood supporting them,” he said.
Arfin added that the policy will also have implications for the larger Jewish community, as many of the freshmen who join AEPi in the fall end up becoming active in the Joseph Slifka Center.
The new restrictions will not affect sororities because they generally hold rush in the spring, said Caroline McCullough ’14, president of the Panhellenic Council, which oversees the sororities Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi. Although sororities’ formal recruitment process is in the spring, she added, Kappa holds an informal recruitment process in the fall. But McCullough that most girls who rush Kappa in the fall are sophomores, which is allowed by the new policy.
McCullough said spring recruitment is beneficial to the process because it gives freshmen a chance to make friends outside of sororities, as well as the opportunity to “get a sense of what the sororities stand for.”
Still, Luke Hansen ’15, a freshman who rushed the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity last fall, said joining SAE early in his Yale career has been “amazing.” He said it gave him the chance to acquire a diverse group of friends from which he could branch out to other groups.
Hansen added that the spring pledge class will become larger to accommodate for the change, which he said detracts from the experience of bonding with a small group.
Gentry said DKE, which is serving a five-year ban from holding activities on campus, must also adhere to the new rule since Undergraduate Regulations apply to all Yale students, adding that DKE was represented at Thursday’s meeting of Greek leaders.
Princeton passed a rule prohibiting all Greek organizations from holding freshman rush last August.