Singing groups traditionally are one of Yale’s most popular extracurricular activities, and after a well-attended Woolsey Hall jam, a cappella groups expected a large crop of new participants.
But fewer freshman are actually rushing this fall.
“In general the numbers throughout the whole a cappella scene are lower this year than usual,” Baker’s Dozen rush manager Lyle Maltz ’05 said.
Yale’s improvisational and sketch comedy groups garnered more typical levels of attention, Just Add Water president Greg Yolen ’04 said in an e-mail.
“This year was quite a good one, in sheer numbers. A lot of kids came out.”
Yolen is a scene columnist for the Yale Daily News.
One potential reason for the decline in a cappella numbers is timing.
The gap between the Woolsey Hall recruitment show and the Dwight Hall sign-up jam was longer than usual this year because Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur fell between the two events, Maltz said.
Michael Smith ’06, who is rushing six a cappella groups, said he believes that the length of time between the two events is the reason for the lower rush turnout.
“A lot of people that might have potentially done it were already involved in other groups and lost interest,” Smith said.
Maltz seconded Smith’s concerns.
“Maybe some people lost enthusiasm or lost track of what was going on,” Maltz said.
Andrew Schram ’06, who is rushing three groups and said he is having a lot of fun, said he does not believe that the lengthy process frightens potential rushees.
“I haven’t met anyone here who was afraid of rush or decided not to do it because they were intimidated,” Schram said. He added that he thinks the main reason people elect not to rush is because they do not want to sing.
But Samantha Langevin ’06 expressed a more negative view.
“I didn’t try out for one because I like my soul where it is,” she said. “They’re like cults. You have to sign your soul to them when you join.”
The rush process begins when students sign up at the Dwight Hall Jam. They then enter into an almost monthlong period of auditions, callbacks and social events.
According to Yale a cappella regulations, all rushing freshmen must eat meals with upperclassmen in the groups they are rushing and attend singing desserts.
“It’s very dissimilar to anything I’ve ever gone through as far as auditions are concerned,” said Smith, who added that the process “is extremely time-consuming.”
Whatever the reason for the decline in numbers this year, Smith and Maltz said there is no major reason for concern.
“I think the better people are auditioning because they are the ones who consistently wanted to do it,” Smith said.
Maltz echoed Smith’s enthusiasm.
“The Baker’s Dozen and all of the a cappella groups on campus are excited about this year’s tap class,” Maltz said.
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