Despite the ban on fall rush for freshmen, fraternities at Yale have seen an increase in the number of students participating in rush.
Leaders of the five fraternities interviewed said they have mostly adjusted to the ban, now in its second year of enforcement, though many faced financial, logistical and recruitment challenges last year. Three of the five fraternities reported more rush participants this semester than in previous years. In response to the increase in numbers, some fraternities have decided to alter their rush policies this year, with Sigma Nu holding two rush periods this semester.
Sigma Chi President Kadeem Yearwood ’15 said the ban has actually created more demand for fraternities. Because freshmen are prevented from joining fraternities in the fall, they may view fraternities as a significant social scene from which they are excluded and may be more motivated to rush in the spring.
“If it seems like it’s harder to attain, they’re more likely to desire it,” he said.
President of Sigma Phi Epsilon, or Sig Ep, Andrew Goble ’15 said the ban on fall rush gave freshmen time to see how Yale fraternities differ from the stereotypes portrayed on TV and in movies.
Goble said around 105 students signed up to rush Sig Ep, a large increase from previous years.
Because more students rushed this spring than before the ban, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon rush process was more chaotic than it used to be, said SAE President Samir Sama ’15.
“It becomes hard to reach out to everyone we’re interested in with enough personal attention, whereas before we could just split that into two semesters,” he said.
Though more students rushed SAE this semester and the spring semester pledge class is larger than it was in previous years, Sama said the total number of new recruits in SAE this year has actually decreased slightly because of the lack of fall rush.
When he rushed SAE, Sama said the fraternity offered bids to 31 students — 17 during the fall rush period and 14 during the spring. This year, there was no fall rush for freshmen, and SAE offered bids to 25 rushees in the spring, he said.
Though 90 students rushed SAE and 40 formally asked for bids, Sama said SAE wanted to keep the pledge class relatively small.
“What differentiates having smaller class sizes [is that] everyone can get to know each other and actually be brothers,” he said.
Sigma Nu will hold two rush periods this spring in order to include all students interested in rushing, said Sig Nu President Conner Lachenbruch ’15. The first rush period, currently in progress, is comprised primarily of soccer, golf and tennis players, while the second period will likely include other students who have enjoyed spending time at the fraternity and would like to become brothers.
Chi Psi, revived last year after almost five decades of dormancy, completed its first official rush process last Friday. Of the 60 to 80 students that rushed Chi Psi, 22 were offered bids, Chi Psi President Michael Herbert ’16 said.
The lack of a fall rush period for freshmen gave Chi Psi brothers the opportunity to get to know potential pledges, Herbert said, and may have helped the fraternity with recruitment by giving it time to establish its legitimacy.
“We do our rush differently — by the time it starts, there are few surprises, and we kind of know who we want to take,” Herbert said. “We really tried to build our frat on interpersonal relationships and already knew most of the freshmen.”
The new policy in 2012 that banned fall rush for Greek organizations also stipulated that all organizations holding rush events must submit a “rush plan” to the Yale College Dean’s Office. Two of the five interviewed fraternities were not aware of this rule, and two said it was not enforced.
The Committee on Hazing and Initiations recommended the freshman fall rush ban in spring 2011.