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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Rushing to conclusions

    It’s spring rush week at the UA, and this year our friends at Greek Life are trying something new: A more formal rush process, one that requires potential members to visit a number of houses around campus.

    At this point, I’ve either gotten your attention or I’ve lost you completely. Believe me, I’ve been on both sides of that particular fence. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a member of a social fraternity here, making me one of the 12 percent of the student body who’ve been through the rush process.

    Originally, though, I was staunchly anti-Greek. In fact, my circle of friends freshman year spent the bulk of their time making fun of people who were rushing. “”Who wants to pay for your friends?”” we’d ask each other. But beyond that table in front of the Chick-Fil-A in the Union where we would have lunch every day, I felt pretty isolated – like there were opportunities passing me by.

    So, without telling my lunch friends, I signed up for fraternity rush my sophomore year. It was a difficult experience, going from house to house trying to figure out how to communicate who I was to strangers in an awkward and artificial setting, all the while wondering why I cared what these guys thought of me to begin with.

    The one house I liked didn’t like me, and I gave up on the whole idea of Greek Life – at least until the following semester, when a Facebook ad trumpeted the reestablishment of a fraternity that had been absent from the UA for more than a decade. I showed up to a meeting in the Student Union Memorial Center, and the next thing I knew I was a (re)founding father of the Kappa-Tau chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon.

    Since then, my involvement in my chapter has fluctuated wildly. I’ve served as vice-president, and there have also been semesters where I haven’t made it to a single chapter meeting. For better or worse, the experience has become one of the defining elements of my college experience.

    So when the Interfraternity Council announced a new rush system this semester, one that proposed to level the playing field for smaller houses, I paid attention. And now that the formal portion of the week had passed, I decided I’d use my lofty position as chief to do a little survey of some of the smaller houses on campus.

    First, I called Chris Brunk, recruitment chairman for Phi Delta Theta. He seemed pleased overall with the new process, although the numbers had dropped off quickly at the Phi Delt house after the first day.

    “”We started out with groups of 25 guys, but by the second night we were down to groups of three and four,”” Brunk told me. “”There’s no system to make sure guys really go to as many houses as they’re supposed to.””

    He’d seen an increase in total visitors over last year, though, and felt like he’d had the opportunity to meet some guys who wouldn’t otherwise had come around, which I guess is the whole point.

    Facebook next introduced me to Tyler Michalowski, the vice-president of recruitment at Phi Kappa Tau. The picture I got was much the same.

    “”The first day it was great to see a lot of faces we probably wouldn’t have,”” Michalowski said. “”We’ve seen a benefit, but the concept still needs to be worked on.””

    Michalowski said he thought the new process would work even better come August, since the new freshmen who will make up the bulk of the rush pack won’t know anything about the old system.

    He suggested that perhaps the formal portion of the week could be cut down to one day from the current two, and that men only be required to visit houses for 30 minute periods.

    “”There are some guys who come in, they know who they want to rush,”” Michalowski said. “”It’s the guys who aren’t even sure they want to be rushing that we want to meet.””

    One thing that no system can change is the basic currency of personal relationships – actually meeting other guys who you like and share common interests with, guys who you’d actually want to be your brothers.

    Michalowski said it best when he shared his own rush experience:

    “”From my perspective, joining is all about word of mouth, actually knowing guys who are in the fraternity. Guys need to meet us before they come to rush to begin with.””

    And how is the new system affecting my fraternity? Well, I wondered that too, so I called the TKE rush chairman. Several times. And he never called me back.

    I have a feeling he’ll be hearing about that in the chapter meeting this Sunday.

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