Fence Club becomes increasingly popular

Fence Club, the coed fraternity on High Street, has been gaining steam in its recruitment and campus presence.

Since its rebirth in 2007, and after it began admitting women in 2009, the organization has seen a steady rise in popularity. According to several members, Fence Club — which completed its 2014 rush process on Feb. 12 — saw an unusually high number of students rush this year. Though interest has been increasing, Fence Club President Julia Lee ’15 said the organization does not keep formal numbers on how many people rush the fraternity.

“Looking at the history of Fence, interest has increased in the long run,” Lee said. “The long-term increase in interest is most likely due to Fence developing and stabilizing over time.”

The organization was originally founded as a chapter of the national fraternity Psi Upsilon, which closed at Yale in 1973. Members of the class of 2007 reinstated the chapter, but in 2009 members severed national ties by accepting female members. The name was changed to Fence Club — an allusion to the fraternity’s historical presence on campus.

Lee said interest in the organization was fairly low when Fence was in “its nascent stages,” adding that it has developed and solidified only in recent years.

Out of 17 students interviewed, 10 students said they knew of Fence Club’s existence as a coed fraternity — either through attending a party at the Fence Club house, or hearing about one from a friend who attended. Six of the 10 were juniors and seniors who said they only heard about Fence Club after completing their freshmen years.

The diversity of the club makes it hard to pin down its specific identity or mission, members said, differentiating it from traditional Greek organizations. In addition to being coed, Lee said, Fence Club is more amorphous than traditional fraternities or sororities because it lacks the same established structures. This ambiguity “opens [the group] up to more change” whenever a new class of members is accepted, Lee added.

Michaela Macdonald ’17, who went through some of Fence Club’s rush events this year but ultimately chose not to complete the rush process, said she enjoyed the process and the members she met.

“It’s hard to peg down a stereotype [of the organization], which is a good thing,” she said.

According to members, Fence Club’s rush events are open to all members of the student body. This year, the rush events spanned three weeks and included large events such as brunch and also smaller meetings between current members and potential new members.

But the laid-back nature of the events also discouraged some students from joining. Sarah Sutphin ’17, a copy staffer for the News, said she considered rushing Fence Club, but ultimately chose to rush a Greek organization instead because Fence Club’s rush process was not as publicized as those of Yale’s sororities.

New Fence Club members described the rush process as organic and casual. Benjy Steinberg ’17 and Seth McNay ’17 both said the most appealing part of the organization was the diversity of personalities represented within.

“There are singers, athletes, hipsters and fratty kids all hanging out together,” McNay said.

Fence Club’s current house is located at 15 High St., a few hundred yards away fraternities including Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon.

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