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Orientation Programs Function As Rush Tool

More Freshmen “Shop” Around for FSILGs; Conversation Replaces Parties on Schedules

By Mike Hall

ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

This year’s Orientation has seen several significant changes in the approach towards rush taken both by fraternity members and by freshmen.

One of the changes is the importance of involvement in Orientation programs, which became clear on Saturday, as fraternity rush chairs reported that their members met many of their desired pledges through pre-orientation programs and orientation groups.

Dakus S. Gunn ’01, Interfraternity Council membership recruitment chair, said that the number of applicants for pre-orientation positions and orientation leader posts has increased dramatically in the last year.

Phi Kappa Theta Assistant Rush Chair Alexander Chang ’02 said that PKT’s pool of prospects expanded this year after brothers took leadership roles in pre-orientation and orientation programs. He added that these prospects were easier to get to know because they took the initiative to get involved.

“The kinds of guys who go to these programs are more outgoing,” Chang said. “We want them.”

Jeremy T. Braun ’02, rush chair of Tau Epsilon Phi, said that his house’s involvement in the Freshman Arts Program introduced house members to freshmen. The co-coordinator of FAP is a TEP brother.

Delta Tau Delta Rush Chair Klint A. Rose ’01 credited his house’s involvement with orientation activities for helping his house have a successful rush.

“It’s an advantage ... just being able to see a face,” Rose said.

Helping with Interphase helped increase Theta Xi’s potential rushee pool, according to assistant rush chair Pravin Kularajah ’03. Kularajah also credits his brothers’ involvement in orientation groups and ROTC for aiding his rush efforts.

As an orientation committee member, Phi Sigma Kappa brother Joseph A. Cirello ’01 helped to attract more freshmen to his house, according to Phi Sig rush chair Gregory D. Dennis ’02. Cirello was a daily presence at Orientation and lead most Orientation activities, making him instantly recognizable among freshmen.

“Every [freshman] knew Joe,” Dennis said. “They said, ‘Joe lives here’ and checked us out.”

Frat “shopping” common

As in recent years, freshmen looking at fraternities “shopped,” or looked briefly at one house before moving on to another. In prior years, freshmen tended to focus on a few fraternities when planning their rush schedules.

“Last year, freshman came in with a good idea of where they wanted to be. This year, we definitely see them bouncing around a lot,” Gunn said. He added that the trend parallels a similar trend two years ago, when freshmen would check into many different houses and dormitories before finalizing their decision.

Delta Kappa Epsilon rush chair Michael J. Hendricks ’02 noted that freshmen are “shopping” more frequently, saying that rushees are “going out on their own accord” and aren’t waiting for campers to take them to houses.

Jae K. Ro ’02, Phi Beta Epsilon rush chair, concurred, saying that “guys are going one place one minute and another the next.”

Ian M. McCreery ’01, Pi Lambda Phi rush chair, said that the methodical travelling from house to house “is not the way I approach rush.”

“We’ll see a good guy, he’ll stay for a few minutes ... then he’ll go down the block,” McCreery said. “It doesn’t seem like the right way.”

Although bids go out Monday, Gunn expects that many freshmen will not choose a residence until later in the week.

Saturday schedules adjusted

To accommodate the prevalence of “shopping,” many houses crafted Saturday schedules focused more on casual socializing to allow members to become better acquainted with freshmen.

After concluding that last year’s schedule of pseudo-sumo wrestling and gravity walls didn’t work, McCreery changed the house’s Saturday schedule to allow for more interaction between brothers and freshmen.

“Last year, guys would come for the events and then leave,” McCreery said. “Gravity walls are cool, but they don’t make people pledge.”

Kularajah said that the relaxed afternoon schedule helped to make freshmen comfortable. “It feels relaxed. Mostly, people are just chilling,” he added.

Gunn said that the changes reflect an increasing emphasis by the houses on getting to know freshmen. “It’s more like recruitment and less like rush,” he said. “[Houses] are more into getting to know kids ... parties have been deemphasized.”

Additionally, Gunn noted that houses increased summer calling this year, a change that Gunn calls “more indicative of an emphasis on recruitment [than] an emphasis on rush.”

While many houses have increased interaction time, other houses have gone in the opposite direction, reducing socializing time and adding more events.

Dan Itsara ’02, rush chair for Phi Delta Theta, said that his house shortened mixing time to keep freshmen interested and active. “Last year on Saturday was a little slow,” he said. “Changes in the schedule made [the time] pass.” Among Phi Delt’s changes were moving the Saturday dinner time from evening to late afternoon.

Yi Xie contributed to the reporting of this story.