January 30, 2008

Rush Week Sees Influx of Recruits to Greek System

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Jan. 14 marked the beginning of Cornell’s Spring Recruitment Week. Nearly 1,400 Cornellians returned to campus in an attempt to join one of the strongest and oldest Greek systems in the country.
Cornell is home to 40 fraternity and 12 sorority chapters, involving roughly 30 percent of Cornell’s student body. 570 women and 785 men comprised this year’s pool of Potential New Members who flooded the campus in search of the perfect “house.” Although both men and women participate in formal recruitment, drastic procedural differences exist between the sorority and fraternity rush.
585 women signed up for formal recruitment, 15 decided not to participate, 120 women withdrew, 450 women entered into the final round and 97 percent of the remaining women received a bid. According to Pooja Shendure ’08, outgoing president of the Panhellenic Association, the umbrella organization that oversees Cornell’s 12 sororities, these numbers are comparable to those of last year. In total, there are now 1,609 Panhellenic sorority women contributing to the vast Greek community at Cornell.
According to Shendure, sorority recruitment was divided into four rounds, each becoming progressively more formal. The first round consisted of PNMs visiting every house over the course of two days.
Sisters gave house tours during the second round, allowing PNMs to envision where they might be living the following year. Round three consisted of skits prepared predominately by the sophomore pledge class in an effort to convey the personality of the house. During the fourth round, the most formal round, PNMs spoke to one or two women from a sorority on a one-on-one basis. At the end of each of these rounds, PNMs selected their top nine, then six, then three houses, while sororities submitted a list of the women they wanted to return.
At the end of this five-day process, PNMs ranked a maximum of three chapters while each house decided which women they would like to join their sorority. A computer algorithm matched these preferences, which lead to the climactic reveal of bids on Jan. 20 at 5:30 p.m.
“We try our best and I think we do a pretty good job of getting women who just want to be Greek into chapters, but unfortunately we can’t guarantee bids to anyone,” Shendure said.
The experience proved to be very emotional for many — especially the 21 percent of women who withdrew from the process.
Annie Symonds ’11 withdrew from recruitment after the third round when she felt that her remaining houses were not places where she felt comfortable joining.
“It was disappointing for a lot of people,” Symonds said.
Symonds also suggested that PNMs be able to look up which houses they were invited back to online each morning, instead of waiting to meet with their recruitment groups. This way, women would not have to waste time and risk public disappointment.
Allie Strauss ’11, a new member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, also felt that the rush process was very demanding and emotional. Although Strauss said that many people were disappointed, she loved the energy of every house, meeting new people and ending up in a sorority that she loves.
“I would definitely recommend [rush] to other people, I would just advise people to be cautious about getting their hopes up,” Strauss said.
Fraternity recruitment occurred during this time as well. According to Gregory Schvey ’09, outgoing vice president of recruitment and incoming president of the Interfraternity Council, the umbrella organization for Cornell’s fraternities, the week began with a meeting to explain the process, schedule and general information to those interested in rush.
On Tuesday through Thursday of rush week, men visited any house they wished at events called “Smokers.” This activity garnered its name due to the tradition of brothers smoking cigars during the visits. At night, fraternities held events that were registered with the IFC and closely monitored for alcohol abuse and inappropriate behavior.
“We hired seven groups of two people that went around to the fraternity houses to make sure that nobody got out of control. We wanted to make sure that everyone was safe,” Schvey said.
This tactic worked, as zero medical transports took place this year, compared to 12 in 2006 and 11 in 2007.
Towards the end of the week, brothers visited prospective members at their rooms, offering a chance for brothers to express interest in a specific potential member. Rush ended on Sunday night when men received sometimes multiple bids from fraternities.
Out of the 785 men that registered for rush, 515 have currently signed bids. This number is expected to change, as men have until April 12 to sign bids. The total number of men who participated in recruitment increased this year as well, likely due to a greater number of informational sessions and registration at bid-signing that was not done the previous years.
The experience of fraternity recruitment was very enjoyable for some.
“I had a blast and I wish I could do it again,” said Will Bruey ’11, a new member of Sigma Nu fraternity.
The third category of Greek life at Cornell, the Multicultural Greek Letter Council, has begun recruitment as well, according to Taylor Le Melle ’09, 2008 president of the MGLC.
The Asian Interest Subcouncil is in the midst of their recruitment, while the National American Latino Fraternal Organizations recruitment will be taking place in the following weeks.