This fall’s new ban on freshman rush has proven difficult to adjust to among fraternities, according to Greek leaders.
Greek organizations have had to adjust their rush plans in light of a policy announced last March that prohibits freshmen from joining fraternities and sororities during first semester. While some fraternities — the only Greek organizations that typically hold fall rush — are considering cancelling their rush periods altogether, most are planning to induct a smaller rush group of sophomores and juniors to keep membership at a sustainable level.
Fraternity leaders said the specifics of the new policy are still unclear, and that they are waiting to see how the regulation will be implemented during its initial year before making final decisions about how to hold rush.
“It’s not clear, I think everybody’s playing it by ear a little bit and everybody’s making certain assumptions and we’ll see whether or not they prove to be valid,” said Daniel Tay ’14, president of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.
According to the Undergraduate Regulations, all fraternities and sororities holding rush events must submit a “rush plan” to the Yale College Dean’s Office. Out of five Yale fraternities interviewed, only AEPi has submitted a rush plan.
John Meeske, associate dean of student organizations and physical resources, did not respond to requests for comment about how many Greek organizations had filed rush plans with the Dean’s Office, or whether that part of the new policy would be enforced. He said earlier that administrators have no plans to meet with Greek organizations to discuss further implementation of and adjustment to the fall rush ban. Last spring, Meeske and other administrators, including Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry, met with Greek leaders on a weekly basis to develop the specifics of the fall rush ban.
Zeta Psi fraternity president Cameron Sandquist ’14, Sigma Nu fraternity president Tommy Racheford ’14 and Alpha Delta Pi fraternity president Cooper Godfrey ’14 said their fraternities have had difficulty adjusting to the new policy because they are composed almost entirely of varsity athletes, whose schedules they must accommodate.
Sandquist said his fraternity is “still trying to find out the rules” and has not yet found a solution to the fall rush ban. He suspects that Zeta will only hold one rush period in the spring and cancel it this fall.
ADPhi is in a similar situation. With roughly 70 percent of its membership coming from the varsity lacrosse team, the fraternity is almost entirely restricted from holding a spring rush, when lacrosse is in season. Godfrey said fraternity members are considering cancelling rush this year altogether, and limiting rush to sophomores in the 2013-’14 academic year. But he added that fraternity leaders are also considering allowing sophomores to rush this fall because of financial constraints.
“The house doesn’t run if you don’t have a certain number of people contributing to the budget,” Godfrey said. “And we want to contribute to having a presence on campus, and you do that by going out and seeking new members and meeting kids you can bond with.”
Billy Fowkes ’14, president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, said his fraternity is holding similar rush events as it has in past years, but making sure that freshmen do not attend.
Tay said AEPi plans to hold fall rush for only sophomores and juniors instead of cancelling it altogether. Because the chapter is relatively small, he said, adding more members to the fraternity gives it “certain energy.” He noted that AEPi’s pledge class traditionally includes several upperclassmen in addition to freshmen.
While AEPi has not had to cancel any rush events, Tay said the fraternity has added some programming to increase outreach for sophomores who may not have initially considered rushing. He said the ban on freshman rush in the fall has been difficult because first-semester freshmen are most likely to join a new extracurricular, adding that AEPi will have to adjust its recruiting strategy to appeal to students more familiar with Yale life than the average first-semester freshman.
“When you speak to freshmen in the fall, it’s about how you cultivate a life here and build in a support network and showing them how it’s a valid extracurricular activity,” he said. “The way in which that changes is going to become more apparent as the semester goes on, because they’ll have done that for themselves.”
The freshman fall rush ban came from a recommendation made by the Committee on Hazing and Initiations in spring 2011.