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...Camping... Banned and Gag Rule Repealed For 2006 Frat Rush

By Yi Zhou

“Hey, wanna play some Frisbee?” This casual invitation is posed by eager fraternity brothers to unsuspecting freshmen, has been an opportunity for upperclassmen to scope out pledge prospects before rush officially kicks off with the Greek Griller this Saturday, Sept. 2nd.

The rush process, which informally began as early as Campus Preview Weekend, is as complicated as the myriad rules that govern it, which forbid brothers from entering the dormitories or disclosing fraternity information to freshmen. Brothers have been drawing upon orientation leaders, athletes, and female friends of fraternity members to make as many contacts as possible this week, during which active recruitment is prohibited. Though many fraternities have already begun compiling a list of candidates, there have been few Interfraternity Council rule infractions, according to Isaac J. Tetzloff ’07.

The rush rules are similar to last year, with the exception of the “gag rule” which has been repealed, allowing brothers to reveal their affiliation if it is a natural response to a question.

The practice of “camping,” in which a fraternity brother may visit another house and request a freshman, who must then meet him at the door, will be banned this year. “It was very invasive and comes off as creepy,” said Tummel.

IFC Recruitment Chair Akil J. Middleton ’08 said that the rules are “put in place out of respect for orientation and Residential Exploration. It’s really about the freshmen, who must also make an intelligent decision regarding their living arrangements for the first year.”

Many fraternity brothers, however, disagree. “Even though it’s good that they try to make a level playing field, some things are lost in the balance. It’s hard for us to make an impression,” said Kurt Tummel ’08, the rush chair for Phi Beta Epsilon. “It should just be a free-for-all,” said Jeffrey Kirby ’08, of Phi Delta Theta.

Clearinghouse to be used again

The Clearinghouse system, enforced last year for the first time since 2001, will return again with a more accessible, web-based interface. Under the system, brothers must register freshmen that visit their house into a giant database that all fraternities may access. It is useful as a safety precaution, as GRTs will be able to locate a freshman at any time, according to Tetzloff. Many incoming freshmen are unaware of this tracking device, and Nicholas D. Pennycook ’10 called it “freaky.” Some brothers also object to the system, finding it not only a nuisance to enforce, but also an invasion of privacy.

A new event is the Alley Rally, a carnival event jointly hosted by the five fraternities on Amherst Alley. “Right after the Greek Griller, freshmen make a beeline for the frats across the river,” and this event will hopefully draw freshmen to the on-campus fraternities, said Tummel. Since it is a joint-fraternity event, Alley Rally will be funded by the IFC, though Middleton declined to comment on its cost.

Freshmen show positive feedback

“I’m really excited for the free dinners,” said Thomas W. Hay ’10. The extravagance of rush, with each fraternity spending at least $15,000 every year, has continued out of both pride and necessity. With 26 houses and only one week to impress, fraternities must spend in order to be competitive, even if some house budgets are tighter than others. “Rush spending is outrageous,” said Tetzloff, but opposes instituting a cap, acknowledging that “it’s a frat’s choice to spend that much. We want to give a house as much freedom as possible.”

The IFC does not currently monitor fraternities’ budgets, though PBE Treasurer Kevin S. Cho ’08 is conducting an independent study on rush spending. Recognizing that “many fraternities are struggling,” he is in favor of “changing the rush culture” and of “smaller frats closing down.” Tetzloff is also trying to encourage freshmen to look past the ostentation to get to know a fraternity’s culture and noted that a lot of frats are shying away from lavish events.

Furthermore, many freshmen already have a sense of which fraternities they want to pledge as a result of their experiences from CPW or being on sports teams.

Freshman awareness of rush has also been piqued by the advertising efforts of the IFC, who launched a poster campaign showing off famous Greeks this year. Middleton hopes the advertising will “help dispel negative stereotypes about fraternities and show that they offer not only a social network but also academic support and guidance.” The message has gotten across to at least one freshman. Zachary W. Rose ’10, who is drawn to the connections and future job internships. While the number of pledges has remained relatively steady at 250–275 in the past several years, fraternities are also hoping to recruit more members since their houses have many vacancies that were never filled after freshmen were first required to live on campus in the fall of 2002.

Fraternity rush begins Sept. 2 and extends through Sept. 9.