Admins ban fall rush for freshmen

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.


  • HighStreet2010

    How can Yale dictate which organizations you can and can’t join? What are these organizations guilty of that makes them so dangerous? Being fraternities? That’s inherently a negative?

    Here we have 18 year old college freshmen, old enough to sign up to die in Afghanistan and trusted enough to vote for the leaders of our country, but not experienced enough to rush a fraternity.

    Just goes to show that the administration is completely anti-Greek. I don’t see middle ground here when they think its fine to dictate policy to the fraternities, without seeking any input, despite having no authority over them.

    I would like an explanation of how this can be considered a fair policy in any way.

  • Fraternity_Alum

    There are some wacky assumptions here. First, that it takes a different kind of judgment to rush a fraternity, a singing group, or the sailing team. Second, that 18 years of life does not impart that judgment, but three months at Camp Yale does – is that just an insult to all the parents? Third, that Yale has acknowledged no real jurisdiction over off-campus activities, yet they create this unenforceable policy anyway.
    What a fantastic way to discourage the fraternities from engaging with the Dean’s Office. Would the fraternities be in compliance if they didn’t call it rush or pledgeship, but instead called it turnip and hopscotch?

  • eli1

    The Yale administration, as well as Dean Miller, are a complete joke.

    1. I dont understand how freshman can join other clubs and organizations except fraternities? I’m pretty sure that there is some pretty serious hazing with a capella groups. Why not enforce that? How about joining the pundits? Pretty sure an actual sexual assault occured within that group last year, right? There’s initiation amongst sports teams. Why are freshman allowed to participate? When I was at Yale there was residential college initiation, where upperclassmen blindfolded and marched freshman around (and alcohol was prevalent). Why are freshmen allowed to be in residential colleges? Just leads to more hazing right? After all, Yale freshmen are way too immature to make such decisions.

    2. It strikes me as pretty hilarious that Miller is launching this all out crusade against the one faction of the University she has no control over. Newsflash: Yale stopped recognizing fraternities in the 80s, and basically stole the sweet dke, Zeta, and ad Phi houses which were on high street. What this effectively did was drive DKE underground for 8 years until it respawned on Lake Place, an operation not under the auspices of the administration. By kicking fraternities off campus (and stealing their houses) the Yale administration effectively lost the right to regulate the fraternity sphere. It is no wonder the frats want nothing to do with the Dean’s office, and I dont blame them. This is the most unfair power grab I have seen.This will only do more to divide the administration from fraternity life (which will probably make the frats increase in popularity, as they have been doing in the past several years)

    3. If you think this is going to change anything in the fraternities you are delusional. They will just call rushing and pledging something else, and make sure it takes place out of the eyes of the administration. The people that believe changes will actually be made are probably the same people that think dke was affected by the 5 year ban. I guarentee it will be business as usual at dke, as it has been, as well as adphi, zeta, SAE, etc.

    • kellygreen

      SO dead on, especially about a capella. Singing groups produce some of Yales worst alcoholics. Worse so in my eyes because unlike Yale frats, the singers don’t share their off campus resources with the Yale community. They host private parties which strengthen the a capella cliquie-ness and exclusivity. Furthermore, a capella hosts one of the most visual and disruptive tap processes.

      In contrast, Yale frats host(ed) the most open and inviting campus parties. SAE late night, DKEs of hazard, and the 80s Zeta party were free to the Yale community and i’ve seen no one charged entry or turned away, except for fire hazard capacity. And I’ve never seen anyone forced to ice luge.

      I understand the administrative desire to allow freshmen to adjust to college life before rushing into a college party. Frankly, it’s important. But a better solution may be to push all rushes back a few months, while providing non-laughable entertainment – geared towards new freshmen – as opposed to axing a single organization.

  • JE09

    I didn’t participate in Greek life at Yale, but this offends me in a profound way. Other commenters have astutely pointed out the arbitrariness of singling out the Greek system and the obvious assault on free association.

    But, what this decision demonstrates most clearly, is the problem of ADMINISTRATIVE BLOAT. We have full offices of administrators at Yale whose job is to regulate campus life and student affairs. These offices operate under the assumption that they can do a better job at regulating student behavior than the students can do themselves. This is not to say that we should not have a Dean of Students (we should for accountability reasons), but it is to say that these offices should be leaner and operate with students, rather than against them.

  • Darius_Dale


    Big Government Intervention strikes again… did anyone in D.C. or New Haven bother to read Atlas Shrugged? I’m guessing not many.

    I think we can all agree that hazing can be an issue and it sucks to be hazed. That said, however, I don’t think chanting stupid things like “No means yes… etc.” and/or sexually harassing members of the community constitute as “hazing”. That’s just plain stupid [and wrong] behavior. Preventing kids from rushing fraternities in the fall does absolutely nothing to address the structural issue at hand here – which is the misbehavior of students in group settings.

    When people congregate together in groups, they feel bolder and more willing to take risks with regards to their behavior. It’s human nature to have one’s perception of right vs. wrong become distorted in a group setting.

    Unfortunately, this is college and, until the high committee decides to impose an outright ban on groups in a Senator McCarthy-esque regulatory change, the underlying problem of drunk kids acting silly in social settings will remain.

    Jumping ship, it’s clear to me that this is a broad-based attack SPECIFICALLY on Greek life at Yale. As a brother of a Yale fraternity, I am both disgusted and disheartened that the administration would be so bold as to single out fraternities and sororities with such punitive regulation. While certainly not to the same degree and scope, this reeks of the Jim Crow era we’ve worked so hard as a society to move away from.

    I am deeply saddened by this horrible attack on so many undeserving people (yes, not all members of fraternities and sororities are evildoers – gasp!). To create adverse conditions for one group of individuals de facto creates an improvement in conditions for other groups on a relative basis. How the highly-educated members of the Yale Board could overlook this incredibly simple relationship is far beyond me and my lowly B.A. in Political Science.

    All told, I hope those who’ve been kind enough to labor through my comments can takeaway one simple message: demonizing Greek life at Yale is not the answer to the issues we face today. If the high committee truly wants to improve the quality of life for the ENTIRE Yale community, they can start by: A) Treating ALL members of the Yale community equally with regard to opportunity and regulation (i.e. you can’t just explicitly sweeten life for normies and non-Greeks); and B) Enforce the damn rules already! If kids actually feared they could get kicked out of school for acting stupid, perhaps there would be far fewer incidents of general misbehavior, etc.

    Have a blessed day and remember, Big Government Intervention is not the answer to all of life’s problems.

  • mr09

    Greek organizations are independent from Yale in order to be independent from absurd, mandated beuracracy. It’s ironic how the Yale faculty is debating the Yale-NUS program b/c of concerns about civil liberties, when the seeds of discrimination are being planted by the Yale administrarion right in the back yard. This demonstrates a disturbing trend indicating that some of those at the top are not fully vested in Yale’s mission and purpose. Greek organizations should ignore this new rule (and all others mandated without equality, fair discourse, or representation).

  • The Anti-Yale

    Is it hazing to challenge folk to drink out of Geronimo’s skull or perform other bizarre acts with it ?

    • theantiantiyale

      Is it hazing to aggressively challenge every opinion and action of Yale students over the internet? Or is it cyber-bullying?