Lehigh fraternity recruitment has historically been known as a three-week “free for all,” according to Ryan Newcomer, ’15, Interfraternity Greek Council president. Fraternities would organize closed events and invite first-year men who they had come to know during the fall semester. These events could vary anywhere from parties, to dinners or sporting events, depending on how much money the fraternity was willing to spend.
Potential members could go to whichever chapter’s events to which they had been invited, whether that meant zero houses or all of them. Without a way to announce events to all students, interested members only ended up at chapter events where they had previously made connections.
At the end of the three weeks, the brothers of each chapter decided who they wanted to give bids to and then the pledging process would begin.
This year, IFC decided to adopt a more structured and informative system for recruitment, in order to increase options for potential members and improve communications throughout the process.
Now with the extensive remodeling of men’s recruitment, potential members are required to go to information sessions regarding the rush process called Greek 101, Greek 102 and Greek 103. Besides this, they have other requirements like attending two days of open houses and at least three open events.
But not all the responsibility falls on the potential members. Fraternity houses are required to not only provide an open house and give chapter house tours, but also have at least two open, dry events in a 10-day period and a “blue chip” dinner – where brothers invite potential members they like to a dinner at their house.
Another big change to fraternity recruitment, according to Newcomer, is the use of an online database to track potential members. The database stores information such as age, hometown, eligibility to receive a bid and contact information.
In previous years, men hoping to join fraternities had to register into the database the day before receiving a bid, but this year they registered before the end of the first day of classes.
This new system is allowing fraternity recruitment, which will conclude in a week, to become more structured than previous years because it facilitates communication from the IFC to all potential members. It was this change that allowed the IFC to enforce the new requirements.
“Usually we have 50, maybe 60 people, sign up (to the database) on the first day and then it would climb to about 300 to the 350 range of people signed up,” Newcomer said. “And by the end of the first day this year we were at 405 people and that’s the most people we’ve ever had (sign up).”
IFC is excited to have a direct venue of communication with potential members. Newcomer said it is an opportunity to educate men who are participating in the recruitment process, and make sure they are meeting certain requirements in order to receive a bid.
Eric McMillan, ’18, is a potential member going through fraternity recruitment. During the first week, he attended the open house tours which helped him become familiar with all of the fraternities but was also a large commitment.
“The open events definitely helped with (getting to know all the fraternities) because it’s a chance to go to a house, when everyone’s invited and from there if you liked the house you can try to build a relationship with the people so you do get invited to those invite-only events,” McMillan said.
Another big change in the system was the addition of Values Week. Values Week occurred the first week of recruitment, during which fraternities had a zero tolerance alcohol policy for potential members. This policy meant potential members could not attend parties and any man who was rushing that was caught drinking would lose eligibility to receive a bid.
“This is our week that we can say, as Greeks, we are about more than alcohol,” Newcomer said. “We can take four-and-a-half days off to say to the campus that we want to recruit people because they’re like us and they share our values.”
McMillan said since there aren’t parties going on during values week, there’s no desire to go out. He said it helped him focus more on the men in each fraternity, rather than which chapter had the best social events.
Another change that was implemented was the use of Brotherhood Recruitment Officers to assist men who were rushing and serve as mentors throughout the process. These recruitment officers serve a similar role to Rho Gammas, women who disaffiliate from their chapters in the fall semester to assist in sorority recruitment.
Chris Walker, ’16, is a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity and a Brotherhood Recruitment Officer.
“My year, when I rushed – and this was one of the reasons I became a Brotherhood Recruitment Officer – it was very uninformed,” Walker said. “You heard about a few events going on but you had a lot of questions and you didn’t really know who to talk to.”
He said this new process is the complete opposite because the IFC and the recruitment officers provide rushes with all the information they need and more. The new emphasis on the recruitment process is to have men explore their options by getting to know a lot of chapters and choose one whose values mirror their own.
“We want people to know that they joined the right fraternity for the right reasons because the best leaders in our community are the people who joined their fraternities for the right reasons,” Newcomer said.
Although people agree that the change in recruitment is good, some say that it’s not the perfect solution.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction, but I don’t think this is the last step or this is the perfect solution,” Walker said. “I definitely think that maybe some kind of compromise between the new system and the old system that kind of maximizes the pros of both would be the best thing for rush in general for all fraternities.”
Sorority recruitment, which concluded almost two weeks ago, also underwent some changes.
Unlike fraternities, sorority recruitment has always been a structured process. One of the biggest changes made to Panhellenic recruitment this year was that the first round of recruitment took place in academic buildings, as opposed to the individual chapter houses.
This change cut the first round to one day and also reduced expenses for each chapter, according to Alex Lanphier, vice president of recruitment for the Panhellenic Council. Another change was that the third round was known as “skit round,” and is now more focused on sisterhood within the chapter.
“Now focusing on (values), I think the (potential new members) have a better understanding of the chapters they’re joining and know exactly what that chapter values and can choose the chapter knowing more about it,” Lanphier said.
Others have also agreed that there are benefits to these changes.
“I really believe (this change) helps girls make a decision on the first round without being persuaded by decorations or the way a house looks, but rather by the conversations and connections at each house,” said Sana Ali, ’17, a member of Kappa Delta sorority.