Singers applaud shorter rush

Yale’s a cappella rush ended Tuesday as members ran through Old Campus tapping their freshmen.
Yale’s a cappella rush ended Tuesday as members ran through Old Campus tapping their freshmen. Photo by Peter Suwondo .

Tuesday’s tap night looked much like it had in past years, as the singing and yelling of Yale’s 13 Singing Group Council a cappella groups resounded throughout Old Campus.

But this year, the celebratory night followed the shortest “rush” period in recent memory. Members of the a cappella community interviewed unanimously said they believe the revised rush process — which shortened the period to two weeks, eliminated mandatory rush meal requirements and condensed singing dessert events into less than one week — was a better experience for all involved.

“[Rush is] a lot of undue emotional effort. It’s a lot of worrying and time for something that isn’t actually that important,” said Madeleine Witt ’15, a rush manager for Living Water this year. “It’s all-consuming and stressful in a way that is kind of silly often, so shortening that to make that as minimal as possible is good.”

Shades member Keren Abreu ’15 said that when the group was no longer struggling to cram in rush meals for every rushee, it was able to invest more time and energy in the 37 they called back. Each call back candidate attended two rush meals with the group, as opposed to one in previous years, and longer callback auditions allowed candidates to better display their skills.

Vidya Sethu ’17, who rushed four groups and joined Shades, said she expected to feel more pressure during rush.

“I know they [made] a lot of effort to make sure rushees had the best experience possible,” Sethu said. “I was sure it was going to be very competitive … I thought it was going to be a ‘Pitch Perfect’ kind of situation.”

David Gore ’15, head rush manager for the Yale Alley Cats, said he was initially concerned that fitting rush meals into the shortened schedule would be impossible, even without mandatory meals for all applicants. Gore ultimately found the scheduling “completely doable,” though on some days he needed to attend five to seven rush meals.

But some consequences of the shortened rush proved difficult to navigate. Trey Pernell ’17, who rushed seven groups and joined the Duke’s Men of Yale, said the week of rush meals turned into “a huge scheduling nightmare.” Gore said cramming all 13 Singing Desserts into five days prevented freshmen rushing many groups from attending the concerts of all the groups they were rushing. While the schedule included separate slots for co-ed groups and single-sex groups, with no overlaps within each category, Gore said it was simply too much to ask rushees to attend so many full-length concerts in one week.

“That’s one problem that needs to be worked out,” Gore said. “I think it’s an important indicator of what that group is about. This year I talked to a lot more rushees who were saying, ‘I didn’t go to this one.’ I wouldn’t recommend joining any group without seeing their Dessert.”

Seth Lifland ’15, a member of the Spizzwinks(?), said he did not get to know many of the group’s taps as well as last year’s, giving tap night a different feel. Still, he added that he thinks rush could be shortened even further.

“Some groups weigh how personalities work very heavily, so rush meals are valuable for them in terms of, ‘Do we think this personality fits in with our group?’” Lifland said. “For me I think the music is more important, and the camaraderie comes second and comes pretty naturally out of the music.”

Luis Cartagenova ’15, a member of Redhot & Blue, said he felt the Singing Group Council was more visible and vocal about making sure everyone knew the rush rules this year. When Shades inadvertently violated the rush rules by booking a gig at Shake Shack, the group received a “hardcore” email from the SGC and immediately canceled the event, Abreu said.

“We heard that the SGC was getting a lot more serious,” Abreu said. “It was cool to see that … they’re actually taking action.”

Gore said he thought there were fewer late night walks this year, perhaps due to the SGC’s stricter tone or simply because a shorter rush meant the groups did not feel as much of a need to constantly “stay on rushees radars,” he explained.

“In the shorter rush you have just enough time to focus on what’s important,” Abreu said. “With the longer rush you get competitive and you get really set on certain rushees and getting that rushee into your group, when what it should really be about is letting the rushee choose what group is right for them.”

Last year’s tap night was Sept. 19.

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