By ASHLEY CHU
Approximately 1,660 Cornellians returned to the below-zero weather in Ithaca for the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council’s Formal Recruitment in hopes of joining the University’s Greek system.
Following a week of “rush,” a total of 481 students signed bids for fraternities and 676 students signed bids for sororities.
While the number of registrants for fraternities stayed consistent with last year’s number, the number of registrants for the Panhellenic sororities increased significantly, according to data from IFC and Panhellenic.
“Last year, we had 823 women sign up for Formal Membership Recruitment, so we saw almost a 50-person jump in just one year,” said Angira Jhaveri ’14, vice president of formal membership recruitment for Cornell’s Panhellenic Council. “There is definitely an increasing demand to be a part of the Panhellenic community.”
Both organizations expressed generally positive sentiments about the rush process this year. In particular, IFC was pleased that there were no reported alcohol-related incidents, which have been seen during past “rush weeks.”
“Overall we are very pleased with the way rush week went,” said Charles Bucher ’14, vice president of recruitment for IFC. “While the recent years have shown responsible behaviors among the chapters, this year in particular proved to be uneventful. We saw no major incidents of any sort and the Social Resonsibilities Committee, IFC, and Cornell Police did not find any violations of our policies.”
Spencer Nord ’16, vice president for university and community relations for IFC, echoed Bucher’s sentiments.
“From our end, this was one of the most successful formal recruitment weeks in Cornell’s history,” Nord said. “Chapters willingly abode by the stringent standards put in place regarding the service and consumption of alcohol. For the first time in years, zero alcohol related medical transports occurred during rush week as a result of fraternity related events.”
Both representatives from IFC noted their satisfaction with the overall changes in the rush process this year in comparison to last year, with regards to both ‘suicide rushing’— or choosing to rush only one house— and alcohol responsibility.
“We have yet to hear of any issues surrounding the ‘suicide rushing’ by registrants that we had last year,” said Bucher. “Essentially, more registrants are keeping the options open and exploring the diversity of the Greek system throughout the duration of the week.”
Nord added that IFC adequately and responsibly addressed another issue of debate from last year— hazing.
“We are proud of our chapters and how they have embraced the importance of safety and responsibility during the recruitment period,” Nord said. “IFC Chapters have done a phenomenal job eradicating hazing from their new member education plans.”
Despite the positive tone that was set by this year’s rush, both Bucher and Nord noted difficulties related to the University restricting the number of fall recruitment events and shortening the new member education period, or the time between signing a bid and initiation, from six weeks to four weeks.
According, to Bucher and Nord, these changes make it difficult for for new members to gain a thorough understanding of the personality and culture of each fraternity.
“Rush week is a process of matching registrants with the chapters that will provide them with the best possible experience,” Bucher said. “Seeing fewer and fewer recruitment events in the fall, each year puts more and more pressure on rush week. Unfortunately, a week can not be enough time to complete the matching process and registrants do occasionally end up in chapters that might not be right for them in the long run.”
Despite these difficulties, though, Nord said that the members of IFC have successfully adapted to this new member period change.
“The four week initiation deadline brings difficulties in streamlining a process that only a few years ago was three times as long, but our chapters have worked not only with their national organizations, but also with various Cornell administrators to develop comprehensively safe new member education plans,” Nord said.
Among all parties involved in recruitment, including rushes and current greek members, the general sentiment surrounding rush was one of simultaneous exhaustion and contentment.
“I’m glad I rushed because this process is really unique, and I don’t think I could ever experience anything like I have in the past few days,” Hailin Liu ’17 said. “[I remember] running frantically to West [Campus], changing into heels when it [was] snowing outside and being outside when it was freezing cold.”
While Liu said it could be difficult to ignore the “stereotypes of each house,” she ultimately felt that the experience was worth the struggle, particularly because it allowed her to meet girls she might not have met otherwise.
“I felt that it was really hard to branch out first semester [at Cornell] and this process really gave me the opportunity to meet new people,” Liu said. “Even though it was draining, I definitely don’t regret it.”