Welcome Week may be over, but many students are still trying to find their niche in the University community — specifically, its Greek community. For most prospective fraternity brothers, fall rush officially starts today. For most prospective sorority sisters, rush started yesterday. At best, rush is a two-week introduction to an active, enthusiastic community. At worst, rush is a stressful process of choosing an identity that will stick with students for their time at the University and even the rest of their lives. Out of everyone’s best interest, the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association should move rush to winter semester.
Rush is the recruitment process for students hoping to join a fraternity or sorority on campus. For students hoping to join IFC fraternities this fall, rush is an 11-day process that begins today with open houses, proceeds to individual chapter events and ends with bid acceptance on Sept. 25. For students hoping to join Panhel sororities, rush is a two-week process that began yesterday, proceeds over three rounds in the coming weeks and ends with Bid Day on Sept. 26.
In either case, fall rush is a grueling process. Unfortunately, it is a process made worse by its poor timing.
For students rushing fraternities and sororities, rush events often take four to five hours a day — a huge commitment most students can barely manage when they’re also worried about things like buying textbooks and starting a new school year. Considering that most prospective Greeks are freshmen, the stress of fall rush only compounds the transitional stress of moving to a new town, adjusting to a new education system and learning how to live on one’s own.
Such pressures are hardly conducive to a strong academic start, let alone to finding one’s place in the University community. Freshmen in just their third week of college are largely unaware of the many options open to them here at the University, inside and outside the Greek system. Discouraging these students from finding the right groups for them is detrimental to both the University and the Greek system. If prospective members were afforded a semester to explore their options and learn about the Greek system before rush, they could make a better-informed decision in a less-pressured environment.
Similar concerns arise about fall rush for students already in the Greek system. In many sororities, for instance, preparation for rush begins weeks in advance — at a time when students are settling in to their new houses, attending football games and beginning their classes. If rush were pushed back to the winter semester, this preparation could happen during winter break or, at the very least, during a less hectic time.
In fact, an alternative to the hurried and harried fall rush is already practiced in the University’s Greek system. Fraternities and sororities in the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council recruit later in the year. Despite this difference, these fraternities and sororities are still vibrant communities with committed members. There is no reason the IFC and Panhel couldn’t follow this model, too.
Obviously, there are some downsides to a winter rush. Traveling between houses during the Michigan winter can be a pain. Students who don’t want to wait until the end of January to decide their housing for the next year may be discouraged from joining the Greek system, especially if they have to live in their Greek houses their sophomore year. And if winter rush doesn’t yield enough members, fraternity or sorority dues would have to rise to cover the vacancies.
These costs are far outweighed by the benefits of holding only a winter rush, though. Rushing a fraternity or sorority should make students who are new to campus or just Greek life feel welcome, not overwhelmed. And by postponing rush until winter semester, a less stressful rush can be a reality.