It’s that most wonderful time of year again – students’ room are still littered with unpacked boxes, textbook stores have lines that stretch around street corners and freshmen tightly grasp their campus maps in their desperate efforts to locate their classrooms. Unfortunately, one more hassle has also been crammed into the beginning of year scramble – rush week for the Greek system is starting already, two weeks earlier than in past years.
The Greek community moved up fall rush to avoid time conflicts with religious holidays, but in doing so it will force freshmen – who barely know the names of their hallmates – to make important decisions that will drastically affect their University experience. With no time to learn what “Greek life” means here at the University, freshmen may rush into a decision they will later regret.
While the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association were correct in adjusting rush to accommodate students who head home for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the date was moved in the wrong direction. Instead of pushing the date forward, the Greek community and potential pledges alike would be better served if rush week were later in the year.
By winter semester, those who decide to pledge will be more likely to stay with the Greek system, because they will have had more time to consider their decision. Delaying rush could also help prevent incidents of hazing. If students have more time to decide which fraternity or sorority to rush, they will be better informed and may be more aware of anti-hazing policies established by their chapters. Past incidents have shown that losing a charter is not always incentive enough to prevent a house from mistreating its pledges, and better-informed students who know to avoid any organizations that haze will provide an additional motivation.
Practically the only serious argument traditionally trotted out for an early fall rush is that holding rush later in the semester or during winter term would make it difficult for Greeks to fill their houses, given pressure on freshmen to sign housing leases for next year early on in the school year. But with the city’s new lease-signing ordinance now in effect, that argument for a premature rush week is far from compelling. The ordinance prevents the signing of new leases until one quarter of the existing lease expires – typically in early December. Even if Greek organizations choose not to switch to winter rush, there is no longer any excuse for holding rush in September, and rush should be moved accordingly.
Greek organizations can best preserve their autonomy from the University administration by using that autonomy wisely – and that doesn’t mean compelling students to rush within six days of the beginning of classes. Although this year’s calendar is already set, the Greek community should push rush week later in the year, ideally to winter semester, so that students have more time to think before rushing into Greek life.