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Thistle stories have little effect on fraternity rush

By Linda D'Angelo

Four articles which ran in the September Thistle and focused on the negative aspects of fraternities and fraternity rush had little effect on rush, according to Inter-Fraternity Council President Tony Gerber '90.

"RUSH: An Insider's Guide," which detailed behind-the-scene mechanisms used by fraternities during rush, was written by Alpha Tau Omega President Penn Loh '90 and member Archon Fung '90. A three article series by Caroline Jean Lee '91 focused on alleged problems of sexual harrassment in the fraternity system.

The main reason for the articles was to "inform freshmen about rush before rather than afterwards," Loh said. Most of the information given to freshmen about fraternities and their rush practices are "sanitized," Loh explained, and this was an attempt to give freshmen "the whole scoop."

Almost a third of freshmen asked had neither read nor heard about the articles. Of the remaining two-thirds several felt that, although the articles seemed a bit exaggerated, they were "helpful." One transfer student had heard several freshmen saying that they would not rush any fraternities because of the article. He explained that because this would increase the number of freshman seeking dormitory housing, it would be more difficult for him to get the dormitory of his choice.

While a few other students discussed the negative effects of the articles, some saying that the articles made them a little wary of the rush process, the majority stated that the four Thistle articles had no effect on their rush.

Kappa Sigma Rush chair Derek Mohar '91, like most of the fraternity rush chairs asked, also felt that the articles had little effect on rush. Because the fraternities and sororities "thought it through and were very prepared, there wasn't much of an effect," he explained.

The sensationalistic nature of the articles (especially the three by Lee) also lessened their effect on rush, Gerber said. The tone, as well as the use of examples that "were blatantly untrue," made them "more of a stereotype rather than an honest warning" to freshmen, he added.

"People should be made aware of these issues," but "because the articles were not done in a professional manner they didn't even serve that purpose," Gerber said. Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) Rush Chair Miles Arnone '91 agreed, stating that while the "articles discussed issues of an important nature, they discussed them in a way that trivialized them."

Since the articles did not provide "the frats' side," they also "damaged their own credibility," Arnone said. If the authors had "wanted to make a point, they needed a more balanced view," he noted.

Lastly, the articles "failed to address that IFC includes sororities, coed fraternities and a female living group," according to pika resident Joseph Vanderway '89. In so doing the articles supported the "idea that rush is for men," he said.

The four Thistle articles were "not as detrimental as the freshmen skit" presented two years ago at the Freshmen Picnic, Vanderway noted. The skit "portrayed frats in a very stereotypical manner" and, because it is an Institute-sponsored rush event, seemed like "an official message that this is what rush is," he explained.