More Cornell students registered for fraternity recruitment and signed bids this year than since 2011, according to Sam Turer ’18, executive vice president of the Interfraternity Council.
The number of students participating in recruitment increased by 40 percent, and the number of bids increased by 17 percent, Turer said.
Recruitment for fraternities at Cornell has dwindled over the past seven years — with only around 600 students registered last year. However, the IFC found that this year encompassed one of the most diverse groups of students.
According to the anonymous survey sent out with this year’s bids by the IFC, participation encompassed students from all different grades, majors and backgrounds.
Turer highlighted the IFC’s diversity initiatives as a major contributing force. Members of the council reached out to program houses, the Latino Living Center, Ujamaa, Akwe:kon and the Holland International Living Center, as well as groups such as the International Student Union and Black Students United.
“When we went to different dorms, we brought with us members of our community who had lived in those dorms in order to make sure that they felt accepted,” Turer said. “We made sure that all groups that had been previously underrepresented in our fraternity community felt as though they were specifically reached out to.”
This year’s increased diversity is also reflected by transfer, upperclassmen, international and low-income students.
“Last week, we granted eleven $1,000 scholarships to new members,” said IFC President Drew Lord ’18. “This alleviates some of the initial financial burdens of joining a fraternity, as this money is put towards paying their new members dues.”
The IFC increased funding for scholarships in order to heighten its emphasis on financial accessibility. The application for funding is need-based and reviewed by the committee of chapter presidents as well as the IFC vice president of finance, according to Lord.
Along with increasing the number of students participating, Lord considers the IFC’s receptivity to the new member process another important factor.
“Cornell is a national leader in the area of new member education as far as reforming the entire system so that we can mitigate a lot of the risks that come with new member education, including hazing,” Lord said.
The IFC is already planning for next year’s recruitment by brainstorming with different groups on campus to improve upon the inclusivity of the process. One idea is to make the process more accessible for students with disabilities by allowing them to park at the different fraternities during open houses.
“Obviously we face struggles in multiple ways — whether it’s a cultural issue [or] a financial issue,” Turer said. “But we’re always looking for ways to make the fraternity experience more accessible to more students on our campus and ultimately we believe that there is a fraternity for everyone.”