Fears of declining fraternity rush numbers marred the festivities of the yearly Fraternity Forum yesterday. As prospective fraternity brothers loitered on the Diag in search of their ideal fraternity, members of the Greek system expressed concern that the new Greek social policies may diminish pledge turnout this year.
The Social Environment Management Policy, which places new limits on Greek parties, was drawn up last fall by the Interfraternity Council — a governing board made up of presidents of fraternities recognized by the University — in an effort to decrease liability for Greek organizations. This is the first fall term under the new policy.
The new party rules restrict the number of non-Greeks who enter parties. This change has caused concern among fraternity brothers who think potential pledges, and entering freshman in particular, may be discouraged from rushing due to the more restrictive party atmosphere.
For most major fraternities, fall rush, the time during which Greek houses recruit new pledges from the incoming freshman class, is partially dependent on fraternity parties that are open to freshmen.
Chris Toulouse, a member of Psi Upsilon, said the new party rules don’t give freshmen a chance to see the fraternity houses, and this could result in a lower rush turnout.
“I honestly think that it’s going to ruin the whole Greek system,” said Nathaniel Staley, a sophomore in Psi Upsilon.
IFC spokesman Jon Krasnov admitted there is some skepticism about the new program and how it will affect rush, though he said that under the new policy fraternity parties are now more controlled and part of a safer atmosphere.
Some fraternity members are now worried that the stereotype of fraternities being insular will be bolstered by the new social policy, which prohibits non-Greek students from entering fraternity or sorority parties without being on a registered guest list.
“It may give the impression to freshmen that the Greek system is an organization only open to certain types of people,” said Jacob Strumwasser, a brother of the Sigma Nu fraternity and a former IFC president.
“I think it will hurt the rush,” Toulouse said. He added that because non-Greek members must register to get on a party list, freshmen are at a disadvantage because they do not know people in fraternities to put them on the list, nor do Greek members know freshman to add to the guest list.
“How are you going to recruit a freshman if you don’t have their name?” Toulouse asked.
Krasnov acknowledged that there is some grumbling concerning the new social policy.
“Anytime you have an organization whose membership is exclusive in any way, there are going to be skeptics. The Greek community is open to anyone who wishes to breach its gates,” Krasnov said.
“We’re not stopping anyone from seeking membership into any of our chapters,” he added.
The new social policy is overly restrictive because fraternities and sororities need a registered guest list and sober monitors, said Staley, of Psi Upsilon.
Staley said fraternity members are “all about community” and that this social policy prevents fraternities from socially interacting with the rest of the University community, which, he said, intensifies the “cult-like” stigma of the Greek system.
Staley added that the new policy doesn’t cut down on illegal activity at all, and there is no enforcement of underage drinking.
“All of the (fraternities) do their best to keep anything bad from happening,” Staley said.
“Really, the social policy itself does not really have an effect on that. It’s too hard. Underage kids are always going to find ways to get alcohol.”
The new social policy includes a “bring-your-own-beer” policy, which is intended to help fraternities escape liability of providing alcohol to minors.
“We operate under the assumption that if you bring alcohol, you are the age to consume,” Krasnov said.
Krasnov said the effects of the new policy on fraternity rush turnout will not be known until the official bid day on October 10, but that he expects good numbers judging by the Fraternity Forum crowds.