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THE ISSUE: A committee of the Board of Trustees is studying the current fraternity rush policy. The recommendations will likely shape any change in policy instituted by the full board. A central question is whether rush should remain in the fall, or be moved to the spring. In today’s Viewpoints, two members of the DTH Editorial Board debate their side of the issue.

Moving forward makes a better rush

The term “overwhelmed” doesn’t do justice to the way many students feel during their first week of freshman year.

Just minutes after they kiss Mom and Dad goodbye, freshmen are expected to familiarize themselves with living away from home for the first time: sharing a room with a stranger, buying books and supplies, finding their way around campus and meeting hundreds of new people, all at a breakneck pace. At night, older students feed them alcohol and promise them the lives they dreamed of ever since they first chanted “Frank the Tank!” in high school.

And just a few days later, a privileged few are led into dark rooms where they are offered fancy invitations to join an elite brotherhood of men. In that moment, they are expected to make a life-altering decision that will dominate their social lives for the next four years. If they accept, they are immediately thrust into a months-long pledge process during which older brothers, who at first seemed friendly, won’t even look them in the eye. They may force them to clean the uncleanable, eat the inedible and bear the unbearable. But if they reject the bid, the door to their perceived social bliss is slammed shut.

No matter how many anecdotes you have heard about what college is like, nothing can prepare you for week one until you have lived it. It is an adventurous and stimulating week, but hardly a time to make a decision of this magnitude. Freshmen need a full semester to get their feet on the ground and truly get to know the Greek organizations they intend to join. They need that semester to form bonds with their fellow freshmen so that pledge classes are made up of familiar people, not just random strangers who were handpicked by upperclassmen. Perhaps most importantly, older students need a chance to truly get to know the freshmen before they invite them to be their closest friends for the rest of their lives.

And not all freshmen get a fair shot. Everyone knows that unofficial rush goes on during the summer before all the freshmen arrive on campus. Deferring the pledge process to second semester could allow students who didn’t attend giant high schools in Charlotte, Raleigh or Greensboro an opportunity to get to know all the organizations in the Greek system. As such, some of the bigger fraternities would get a chance to benefit from a larger pool of prospective pledges.

For freshmen who have older siblings or friends from high school to guide them, the decision-making process is eased. But unfortunately, that is not the reality that all students face. Students from small towns or from out of state have absolutely no idea what to do or who to trust. At a University where we are taught to think critically and make decisions based on sound judgment, allowing students to pledge first semester is a conflict of interests and extremely irresponsible.

Sam Jacobson
Editorial Board Member
Senior Political Science major from Bethesda, MD.

Moving rush would be wrong direction

This is not the first time deferred rush has been pushed for by people outside of the Greek system. People unaffiliated with the Greek system have long believed that simply moving rush back five months would magically solve all problems in the system. Studies undermine the logic behind this belief.

In 1996, the Board of Trustees directed a Chancellor’s committee to study the topic. The report urged against instituting deferred rush at UNC. Another study, performed by the University Affairs Committee, reported to the BOT in 2004 that deferred rush was found, again, to be unfavorable for the University.

If rush is moved to second semester, it will not postpone the rush process, but prolong it. The 1996 study cited other schools who have deferred rush and their problems with unregulated and underground fall rush. I don’t anticipate the Interfraternity Council or the Office of Fraternity& Sorority Life affairs being able to keep all 24 IFC fraternities from talking to the thousands of freshmen for a whole semester.

Everyone, members of the Greek and non-Greek community alike, should want two weeks of regulated recruitment as opposed to five months of unregulated activities. New rush rules this year seemed to bring a rise in the number of off-campus parties. With deferred rush, the risk would only increase as off-campus parties would continue for the whole semester.

Additionally, spring recruitment would cause an unnecessary financial burden on UNC’s fraternities. Not only would recruitment budgets be forced to increase, but Greek organizations would be missing a quarter of their members for half the year.

Almost every national Greek organization has historically been against this style of recruitment as well. Later this week, many executive officers from different national organizations will meet with the Fraternity Alumni Association of UNC. The officers are part of the National Interfraternity Conference to fight against deferred rush. These men will argue against deferred recruitment in order to defend their specific UNC chapters from the negative effects mentioned above.
Deferred recruitment will not solve anything. It will actually hurt more than it will help. The 2004 Affairs Committee report, along with arguing against moving rush, recommended other things for Greeks and the school to focus on improving. These consisted of promoting service projects, alumni involvement, and positive new member education. Instead of making an unpopular and unnecessary change, the University could try to improve the culture of UNC Greeks by encouraging an environment where the best parts of Greek life can flourish.

Robert Fleming
Editorial Board Member
Junior Economics major from Raleigh.

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