A new ban on fall freshman rush for Greek organizations has resulted in negative effects on the groups, according to fraternity leaders interviewed.
Administrators announced the rule prohibiting freshmen from rushing Greek organizations during the fall semester in March 2011 to encourage freshmen to explore extracurricular opportunities outside of Greek life during their first semesters. Six out of seven fraternity leaders interviewed said their groups held fall rush events for upperclassmen, and both Alpha Epsilon Pi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon reported lower numbers than in past years. Fraternity members interviewed said they found the ban had negative results for fraternity culture and finances.
“[The ban] discourages freshmen from making bonds with fraternities early in the year,” said Russell Holmes ’13, Sigma Nu vice president of special projects, in an email to the News. “And [they] potentially [will] not form the important bonds that a fraternity offers.”
This fall’s smaller rush classes decreased the number of dues-paying members compared to those from previous years. Three fraternity leaders said this decrease has had noticeable negative effects on their organizations’ finances, and Delta Kappa Epsilon President Nick Daffin ’13 said the fraternity must limit certain events they have held in the past as well as cut back on parts of the fraternity house’s planned renovation.
Two of three fraternity presidents whose organizations did not participate in spring rush in previous years said coordinating a new spring rush period posed logistical challenges. Zeta Psi President Cameron Sandquist ’14 said his fraternity had to “completely revamp how our process works drastically.” Daffin said in past years, DKE has hosted a barbecue and several small events to help upperclassmen get to know the freshmen, and many of these events will be scaled back this year.
Sigma Phi Epsilon President Will Kirkland ’14 and AEPi President Daniel Tay ’14 said they think fall rush would not have prevented freshmen from pursuing other experiences because fraternity brothers can help introduce freshmen to other student groups. In addition, current fraternity members missed out on the experience of mentoring new college students, Tay said, which is an important part of being in the fraternity community.
John Meeske, dean of student organizations and physical resources, said administrators plan to meet with Greek leaders in January or February to hear feedback about the new policy, but he thinks Greek leaders need more time to understand the full effect of the rule.
Only one fraternity leader interviewed said the ban positively affected his organization. Sandquist said the ban allowed Zeta to increase its outreach efforts to upperclassmen and attract a rush class made up of students with more diverse interests.
Brendan Shi ’15, who joined Sig Nu this fall, said fraternities that typically have strong ties to certain varsity athletics teams have expanded their memberships to students beyond those teams, because the fraternities had more room in their fall pledge classes.
“For example, Sig Nu is kind of affiliated with golf, tennis and soccer and traditionally fall rush is really mostly athletic teams,” he said. “This year, all the freshmen could not [rush], so sophomore [pledges] were non-varsity athletes. I kind of see the same thing happening with DKE.”
Shi added that he thought rushing sophomore year helped him choose a fraternity that better suited him because he was able to better get to know the other members of the fraternity.
Three freshmen interviewed said they did not feel the effects of the postponed rush period and they agreed with the reasoning behind the new rule.
“Most freshmen weren’t that concerned, including myself … it seems the basis for the rule made sense,” said Rafi Bildner ’16. “I would think that most freshmen didn’t even notice the new rule.”
All fraternities will hold spring rush, and this semester marks the first spring rush period for the Sigma Nu, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Zeta Psi fraternities.