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