Friday, March 7, 2014

Fraternity Rush: The Experience

Adam Field, Marketing Intern

            There is one week at the beginning of every semester that, in my opinion, makes college more than just an experience, but the best four years of your life: Fraternity Rush. To most this means a week of meeting new people, trying to build quick relationships, and potentially the start of a new chapter in your life. I have viewed rush from both sides, as a potential new member and as an active fraternity member. Which is why I can explain what rush is and how to get the most out of the weeklong process through my own opinions and experiences.

As an incoming freshman, campus is a whole new experience. It’s hard enough to figure out where classes are, let alone understand this so called “rush week” that everyone keeps talking about. I, like most other freshmen, knew what Greek life was from TV shows and movies, but was not sure how to get involved in it. No one had approached me about joining a fraternity or said anything about going through rush week. That is until one day, by chance, someone invited me to go to White Hall and get more information.

 Fraternity rush is the recruiting process at the beginning of each semester and lasts from Sunday to Friday and is nothing like sorority recruitment. Unlike the structured sorority recruitment, rush is more laid back. There is no required dress code and the biggest difference is that you do not need to be invited back to a house each night. Rush is open for all grade levels to explore the options and experiences of joining a fraternity. Potential new fraternity members may visit any or all of the fraternity houses they are interested in from 7-10 p.m. each night. You can stay at one house as little or as long as you please.

But, before you get all excited and ready to jump into things, there are a few requirements to be aware of. First, you need to register for recruitment and pay a recruitment fee of $20. You also need to make sure your GPA is up to standards. If you are a freshman rushing for the first time, your high school GPA must be at least a 2.70. For those that have been in college, your GPA must be at least a 2.50.  Finally, you need to attend an information session held by the Interfraternity Council (IFC). For more information about IFC, check out their website. Rush week is all about exploring fraternities that you are interested in and finding the one that you connect the most with. You shouldn’t be worried about what a fraternity’s reputation is, but try to form your own opinions. With this knowledge of the requirements, what does each day look like?

            Sunday evening is the official beginning of rush week.  This first night takes place in Whitehall and is basically an introduction to every fraternity. This is the chance to explore all of the fraternities in one building and get a grasp on which ones you like best. Every fraternity will be at this event and represented by ten of their members. It is important to talk to as many fraternities as possible with an open mind. The Sunday night event builds a base for the rest of your week. I would recommend researching each fraternity to make this process easier. It also doesn’t hurt to go out with a friend to this event. It will help keep your nerves down knowing someone else in the room. After this, you have a sense of which fraternities you want to focus on for the rest of the week.

Monday – Thursday
Each night of these four days works around the same concept. Go to the fraternities you like, meet as many people as possible, and be yourself. Imagine rush week as five days of speed dating as many guys as possible. Monday night is the first night that potential new members are allowed to go into the fraternity houses. You can choose any house to visit and stay for as little or as long as you would like. I will never forget the time I walked up to a fraternity for the first time—it was a sea of people and there was food everywhere, but no one was touching it, and I felt completely out of place. I had only been on campus for one week, at a school seven hours away from home, so that didn’t help my comfort level. I did not know many people and I had just walked into a house filled with 110 guys that all knew each other. Obviously I was more than slightly uncomfortable in this situation, but this was a perfect time to take advantage of an opportunity and step outside of my comfort zone.

If you want to succeed and get the full experience from rush, it is crucial that you step out of your box. Like I said earlier, Monday through Thursday is typically the same. Keep going to the houses that you like and working on meeting as many of the members as possible. One member does not define the whole fraternity and there are numerous personality types. After all, these could eventually be your own fraternity brothers and it is important that you are positive about what you want. When I went through rush, I judged each fraternity on three aspects in order to help myself choose where I felt that I belonged. First, could I relate and connect with a majority of the members? Second, was the fraternity house itself nice? I knew I would eventually live in a fraternity house so it was an important selling point. Third, did the fraternity’s values match my own (such as brotherhood, academics, and respect)? As the week progresses, your list of fraternities that you like will dwindle until you have one, maybe two that you are serious about. It is then crucial that you spend more time at those fraternities during rush hours to show that you want to be a part of that brotherhood. Some potential new members may really like a fraternity, but if they don’t spend enough time at the house, they might be over-looked by the fraternity.

            Friday is the final day of rush week: bid day. It works just like all of the previous nights except for one detail: the fraternities can extend bids to the potential new members that they feel have true potential and hope will join their fraternity. A bid is an invitation to pledge a fraternity. Not everyone will get a bid from the fraternity they like the best, and some may not get a bid at all. It is the fraternity’s decision to bid a potential new member and welcome them into pledging. After you are personally given your bid, you have exactly one week to accept or decline. Most choose to accept immediately, but some, especially those that get a bid from multiple fraternities, like to wait and weigh their options before finally accepting.

Since initiating into my fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi, it has been interesting to see the rush experience from an active members side. It is much less nerve wracking and more exciting from an inside perspective. Guys walk into the house and I can immediately tell they are nervous or even intimidated. Most will not talk unless they are talked to. My advice is to anyone going through fraternity rush is to treat it like one big interview and brag about yourself without being arrogant, but most importantly, be yourself. Every fraternity is looking to find that one guy who stands out among the rest and rush week comes down to finding the best guys you can, and bringing them into your brotherhood. That is why I like to ask the most random and bizarre questions that will completely catch someone off guard.

Every fraternity has something to offer, whether it is involvement, academics, or athletics. My fraternity has helped me in more ways than I can count. It’s helped me keep my grades up, stay involved on campus, and support numerous philanthropies. Also just like every other fraternity, I have a network of brothers that have gotten me through both the good and bad times. Those will be the guys that will always have my back and they have become my best friends. But, rush is not for everyone. There are plenty of other outlets on campus to get involved in such as SAB and Student Government. I encourage you to explore all of your options and find what fits you best. But, looking back on my freshman year, accepting my bid to pledge Delta Sigma Phi was one of the best choices of my life.

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