April 11, 2007
Inside the rush process
IFC fraternities begin two-week-long recruitment
By Rahul Kanakia
Yesterday and Monday, dozens of freshmen and a handful of sophomores descended on the Row to play games, gorge themselves on free food and decide if they want to live with 50 other guys for the next two or three years. They were taking part in the first of five open rush events each fraternity will be holding over the next two weeks, described variously by fraternities members as a sorting process, a competition and an introduction to a lifelong experience.
A fraternity rush event generally centers around an activity — whether it’s mock casino gambling, arcade games or hookah night — andfood ranging from In-and-Out burgers to Subway sandwiches. The activities provide a focal point for the event while the fraternity brothers thread their way through the crowd, attempting to get to know the rushees and trying to impress them with the uniqueness of their organization.
Housed fraternities will host their events in their houses: Kappa Sigma, Theta Delta Chi, Sigma Nu, Sigma Chi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Phi Kappa Psi and Kappa Alpha.
The unhoused fraternities, Delta Tau Delta, Sigma Epsilon, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Alpha Epsilon Pi, will hold their events in rented Row houses. All are members of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), which does not include the members of the African-American Fraternal/Sororal Association or the Multicultural Greek Council. Many of these ethnically-themed fraternities are competing with the same fraternities. Every fraternity hosts an event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 14.simultaneously holding rush events.
Some IFC fraternities will host events from 8 to 11 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays while others will have events on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In the second week, the fraternities will change around their calendars, in order to avoid
“This year our rush events are sort of themed around our basic rush theme,” said Anant Vinjamoori ‘08, SigEp’s recruitment chair. “Which is basically us being different from all the other fraternities and better. Hence our slogan, ‘Different and Better.’”
David Pringle ‘08, recruitment chair for SAE, explained that most frats will gather after the event to discuss the people that they’ve met that night.
“It varies in length, getting longer as the process goes on,” he said. “It’s basically just the impressions that people have. If you talk to a guy and say that he’s a great guy, I’ll make sure to talk to him later on.”
The meeting process is very informal, and further discussions will often take place during meals and other occasions when members of a fraternity gather. But Rainer Castillo ‘07, one of Sigma Nu’s recruitment chairs, explained that there is an element of self-selection in the process.
“We’ll get a huge draw the first night and then a smaller crowd each day as rush progresses. It’ll break down naturally without our help. We don’t only invite people to some events. We want everyone to come if they’re interested.”
Most fraternity members emphasized that there were no specific criteria for the rushees. The events are about seeing whether the rushees would be able to enjoy the culture of the frat.
“There are a lot of people we’re really close to, but they’re just not a great fit for the organization,” Castillo explained.
After the five open events, each fraternity has an invitation-only off-campus event, which takes place either on Friday, Apr. 20, or Saturday, Apr. 21. An invitation to one of these events indicates that the fraternity is seriously considering giving the rushee an offer of membership, called a “bid.” A fraternity will personally deliver their bids on the following Sunday, and prospective members have until Wednesday to accept.
The fraternity rush process is governed by a series of rules, which are enforced by the IFC. First of all, no alcohol can be consumed in the house during a rush event, even in closed rooms. Second of all, no rushee can be in the house after the event ends at 11 p.m. On days when the fraternity is not hosting an event, rushees should not be in the house at all. If fraternity members take rushees off-campus during the recruitment period, to dinner for instance, they must be returned by 7:30 p.m., so they have time to attend other fraternity events.
The rule mandating a dry rush was put in place by the Stanford administration, but many fraternity members expressed approval.
“It’s like when you walk into a bar,” said IFC recruitment chair Kyle Ladewig ‘08. “You don’t go into a bar, drunk, expecting to find your soulmate. In the same way, you don’t go into fraternity recruitment, which is a lifetime commitment, drunk and expect to find the right fraternity”
Brian Inouye ‘08, the other IFC recruitment chair, explained that the other rules were designed to provide freshmen with equal access to each fraternity and vice versa, especially in light of competition for rushees between the various organizations.
“Every fraternity is trying to get a good class for next year,” he said. “There is a competition between the houses. Everyone knows specific freshmen and everyone wants them. There are cool kids out there and the houses do want them.”
However, Jake Fuentes ‘09, Sigma Nu’s other recruitment chair, thought that competition between frats was minimal.
“I think that the frats have enough differences on their own that it’s obvious which frat will end up with which group of people.”
Stanford’s fraternity rush process is more structured than that at many other universities. In addition to the ban on alcohol during rush events, Stanford’s lower-key fall rush is closed to freshmen, because the University wants all incoming students to have a unified freshman experience. Additionally, most universities lack Stanford’s restrictions on when or how many rush events a fraternity may hold.
Avishai Weiss ‘08, the IFC president, attributed these differences to the greater amount of power Stanford has over the Greek system.
“Because they own all the property, anything we do is under their jurisdiction,” he said. “Whereas because at UCLA all the frats are all off-campus, they don’t really need any connection to the school. Stanford really does have an arm in everything. And they do feel a lot more like a parent in that sense.
“Fraternities have to meet with [Assistant Dean and Director of Student Activities] Nanci Howe before rush started to get their events approved,” he continued. “Nanci Howe sits down and says, ‘This is OK, this is OK, this isn’t OK.’ There are no real guidelines either; it’s just how she feels that day.”
Howe was not available for comment.