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The GW Hatchet

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After handing out bids, fraternities to keep recruiting

If you miss out on a bid from your top chapter during recruitment, the Interfraternity Council wants you to know it won’t be too late to still join Greek life.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
The Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity parades around campus with other Greek life organizations in spring 2012 for Greek Week. Fraternity leaders expect open recruitment to increase their ranks.

For the first time this fall, chapters are being explicitly encouraged to bring on new members after formal recruitment ends Sept. 27, a year after the IFC adopted a year-round open recruitment policy. Chapters will set up around campus after handing out bids to try and follow up with students who came up empty-handed during the official rush period.

Jack Leech, the IFC’s vice president of recruitment, said he hopes it will keep students interested in Greek life even if they rush unsuccessfully.

“The last thing we want is for someone to get uninvited from one chapter and just be dismissive toward Greek life in general when they actually have this other option they could’ve explored,” he said.

Those additional members can join chapters’ fall pledge classes if recruited in the first days and weeks after the formal rush period ends.

The move is likely to grow a Greek life population that has already exploded in size in recent years. About a third of GW students are in fraternities or sororities this year, up from about 24 percent four years ago. The number of students in Greek life has nearly tripled in the last decade.

Open recruitment has been successful at other universities that are also members of the North-American Interfraternity Council, Leech said, adding that the new format will level the playing field for smaller fraternities by giving them more time to draw in members.

Sigma Nu, one of GW’s smallest fraternities with about 20 members, has already jumped on the chance to recruit year-round.

David Pepin, president of Sigma Nu, recruited three of its 11 new members outside of the formal rush period.

“[The chapter] sets up personal meetings with potential new members, we get to know them, and consider offering an invitation for membership,” Pepin said in an email. “Hopefully the new focus on year-round recruitment will allow us to be even more successful.

Beta Theta Pi chapter president Colin O’Brien said that unless his chapter offers a bid in the first few weeks after formal recruitment, newly recruited members will wait to join the next pledge class. And while his chapter hasn’t recruited any new members outside of the spring and fall rush cycles, the year-round recruitment policy will help new students get to know chapters on a deeper level, he said.

“Rush happens too quickly and too superficially for brothers to get a real sense of whether or not they feel the rush is a good fit or not sometimes,” O’Brien said in an email. “365[-day recruitment] slows that process down.”

O’Brien said putting in place open recruitment is a “difficult and tedious change” because the formal rush cycles are “very ingrained” in Greek life, but added that his members are open to the year-round policy.

IFC president Casey Wood said the open process will keep potential members from falling through the cracks.

“There’s always a story about a guy who’s just really upset because he got excluded from Greek life because he really wanted one fraternity and ended up getting cut. And that’s so silly,” Wood said. “We’re just trying to refine the process so that we keep as many guys as possible within the rush process, instead of completely losing them from Greek life.”

One way to minimize the losses, Wood said, is an online system to keep track of all male students who express interest in joining Greek life. The system will give the IFC a roster of potential members and email addresses to stay in touch with them and keep track of who goes to recruitment events.

Freshman Michael DeMinico said he has been asked to sign in to the online system at each recruitment event he has attended and that he is encouraged that fraternities are keeping track of students interested in Greek life.

But while Wood likened the open recruitment to drafting a free agent, DeMinico said he was concerned that students would see joining Greek life during late recruitment as a consolation prize.

“It’s like [the chapters are] picking leftovers,” he said. “How is that going to make you feel about yourself?”

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