In the first rush week since a wave of new University regulations were imposed last fall, Interfraternity Council officials said they expect this year’s recruitment to highlight the resiliency of Cornell’s Greek system.
“Most of campus was nervous about rush this year,” said Dan Freshman ’12, former IFC President. “As the numbers will show, we were able to put the doubters to rest.”
While the new rules raised concerns of a weakened recruitment, fraternities reported that more than 100 students registered for rush week this year than last year, according to Freshman. The new rules required rush events to be dry and “smokers” to be held in the evening.
Margo Cohen Ristorucci ’13, vice president of judicial affairs and standards for the Panhellenic Council and a Sun News Editor, said that while the size of member classes for sororities varied by chapter, recruitment was“wildly succesful.”
“The Panhellenic Council is excited to have Phi Sigma Sigma, our twelfth and newest chapter on campus,” Cohen Ristorucci said. “[We] are delighted to see record-breaking numbers of Cornell women join Greek life.”
Freshman said that while new regulations limited freshmen from participating in Greek Life in the fall, they may have inadvertently spurned interest in rush week.
“Due to dry rush, there is a bit more interest in Greek life because many students were not able to fully experience open fraternity parties throughout the semester,” Freshman said. “So there is a feeling of exclusivity when a student is invited to a house.”
Concerns surrounding this year’s fraternity rush week were also heightened by fear that many houses would break code and illegally serve alcohol at events. But Chris Sanders ’13, the incoming IFC president, said that there were only a few policy violations.
“Aside from one or two minor infractions that were dealt with appropriately, there were much less problems than we expected,” Sanders said. “This shows that we can move forward and work within the new system to promote stable recruitment.”
Freshman noted that the type of rush events offered by fraternities varied widely this year. He said these changes were for the better, citing an incident from 2010 in which three students were hospitalized after drinking at a rush event at Pi Kappa Alpha.
“When people think of rush week, they think of what happened at Pi Kappa Alpha a couple of years ago. We didn’t have that this year. Frats had to throw smaller, well-controlled events that were approved by the IFC,” he said.
Freshman said that, despite the new rules, the individual chapters retain a large degree of autonomy.
“Although new rules are in place, chapters still have full jurisdiction to dictate their own schedules and event formats,” he said.
Perhaps because of this, although many fraternities followed the new regulations, others held events at houses in Collegetown.
Still, President of Recruitment Michael De Lucia ’12, said the overall rush process was more or less unchanged by the new rules.
“Aside from the IFC-voted schedule, rush was handled very similar to last year,” De Lucia said. “It ran very smoothly.”
De Lucia also said many fraternities recruited heavily on North Campus in an effort to assuage worries that the new rules would diminish freshmen recruitment.
De Lucia said that the IFC hopes to see even higher numbers once bid signing begins on Sunday, in order to account for those who did not formally sign up before rush.
As for the future of rush, Sanders said he is optimistic.
“This is one of those moments where people see the system is still intact and viable, even though it appeared different on the surface,” he said.
Additionally, IFC members said no new policy is permanently intact.
“There will be a great deal of analysis about this year’s process. We need to see what worked and what didn’t,” Sanders said. “It will take some growth time to make necessary tweaks.”
Freshman added that every student who signs a bid will take a survey explaining their opinions on rush week.
“We are continuously looking for the best formula to guarantee the safest and most enjoyable rush week,” he said.