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Fraternity Rush to Use Clearinghouse Tracking for the First Time Since ’01

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: The Sept. 2 version of this article and its headline misstated the last time the Clearinghouse system was used. It was last used in 2001, not 1996.

By Hanhan Wang
STAFF REPORTER

The Clearinghouse, a database tracking the location of fraternity rush participants, has returned from an four-year absence.

“It’s an experiment,” said Christopher P. Child ’06, president of the Interfraternity Council. He said the system was resurrected to help increase the number of freshmen rushing and gather data on the success of rush events. He said that the shorter rush period than in years past, 11 days total this year, helped make the Clearinghouse feasible.

In a successful rush, as many freshmen would visit as many fraternities as possible. The Clearinghouse will allow fraternities to keep track of how much time someone has spent in one place, helping ensure a more equitable distribution of attention.

The system will be closed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on class days except for Bid Day, when fraternities must immediately enter each new pledge. Upon entering or leaving a fraternity house, the rushee signs in or out, and then brothers of that fraternity enter this information into the central database.

A typical use of the Clearinghouse, called “camping,” would happen if fraternity A wants a freshman to attend their rush event and uses the Clearinghouse to find out that he is currently at fraternity B. Brothers from fraternity A would then stop by fraternity B’s house and ask to speak to the rushee, at which point the rushee can choose to stay or leave.

System should boost pledges

“I think [the Clearinghouse] will increase pledge numbers because people will end up finding the right house,” said Craig Rothman, rush chairman of the IFC. Finding the right house also would decrease the depledge rate, he said.

The issue of returning to the Clearinghouse was initially raised at an IFC meeting, then approved by the Presidents’ Council, Rothman said. The Clearinghouse will help the IFC learn which rush events are most popular. Additionally, it “prevents houses from hogging freshmen,” Rothman said.

Reactions to the return of the Clearinghouse are mixed. “It seems a bit odd” to be tracked, said Benjamin P. Gleitzman ’09. “I can see why it would be useful,” he said. He said he encourages fraternity brothers to maintain a “personal attitude” instead of worrying about rush yields.

A fraternity brother opposed to the clearinghouse system said that “it only adds pressure to a system that already has too many rules.”

As in the old system, fraternities report violations to the IFC’s Judicial Committee, and Judcomm then launches an investigation when appropriate. Rothman said the Clearinghouse will allow the IFC to see how long a rushee spends at a given fraternity and enforce rules regarding rush trips away from the fraternities. Rush rules can be found at http://ifc.mit.edu/documents/rec/Recruitment_Rules_8-19-2005.pdf.