On Tuesday, 509 Cornell students accepted fraternity bids, a rise of 103 from last year, and 21 more than in 2002. This number surpassed the Interfraternity Council’s goal of 500 new men for the Spring rush period and may increase as fraternities continue to recruit after rush week in their continuous open bidding.
Similarly, the number of women that joined sororities rose, though this has been the trend of the past few years. “Approximately 30 more women received bids this year than last year with approximately 460 women receiving invitations to join chapters,” said Meghan Dubyak ’04, current president of the Panhellenic Association.
For both fraternities and sororities, the increase in recruitment followed a significant increase in the number of students that registered for rush. “This past recruitment period represented a year of record registrations,” Dubyak said.
Likewise for fraternities, “this year’s registration numbers were much higher than last year’s,” said Mark Pincus, IFC’s vice president for recruitment.
This increase was likely the result of an unprecedented effort taken by the IFC, Panhel, and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs to inform Cornellians of the opportunities offered through Greek life.
“This year, the IFC took many steps toward increasing publicity for the fraternity system in hope of educating new students about the many benefits of the Greek system,” Pincus said. “For example, IFC held a pre-rush open house the weekend before Thanksgiving break, during which freshmen got the opportunity to visit fraternity houses,” he added.
Additionally, IFC distributed a multimedia CD containing information about individual chapters to students on North Campus, held various information sessions and set up tables around campus.
“These programs, coupled with increased Greek publicity from Greek Week, had a positive effect on interest in Cornell Greek life, and has translated into an increase in students accepting bids this year,” Pincus said.
“Panhel quarter-carded all freshmen mailboxes, created an multimedia CD and distributed it to all freshmen, held countless information sessions, facilitated online registration and had e-mail contact with potential new members,” Dubyak said. As a result, 580 women registered for recruitment, a rise from last year’s 540 and 2002’s 536.
The advertising strategies were devised in response to dwindling fraternity rush numbers over the last few years.
“Fraternities just got used to having people knock down their doors to get in and that is just not the case anymore,” said Leo Pedraza, assistant dean of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.
“One of the major factors that prevents freshmen men from joining the Greek system is a lack of information,” Pincus said. “Freshmen often come in with an inaccurate and sometimes negative perception about the fraternity system.”
Some other non-advertising related changes to rush were also made this year.
“We put in tracking to track people through recruitment,” Pedraza said. “We asked every chapter to have a sign-in sheet.” Additionally, students were allowed to register online. Panhellenic also “worked with other campus organizations, such as the Cornell Women’s Resource Center and the Orientation Steering Committee to hold events aimed at engaging freshmen,” Dubyak said.
Sorority “preferencing,” a process by which young women rank the three final houses they wish to join, was conducted in Rockefeller and Goldwin Smith Hall on Saturday and bids were handed out Sunday.
“I truly believe that changes made this year resulted in the lower withdrawal rates we experienced and the greater number of women matching with the chapters they preferenced,” Dubyak said.
“I would like to thank the OFSA staff and the volunteers on this year’s rush committee for their hard work and dedication,” Pincus said.
Pedraza indicated that rush and pre-rush improvements will continue over the next few years. “We are looking for patterns … in an effort to improve,” Pedraza said.
In February, Pincus will meet with the rush committee to suggest possible improvements for next year.
Archived article by David Andrade