MIT’s week-long period of Greek recruitment commences tomorrow as potential new members begin exploring MIT’s twenty-seven fraternities and six sororities to try for a fit.
Both fraternity rush and sorority recruitment kick off at noon in Killian Court with the Greek Griller, a barbecue meet-and-greet between Greeks and prospective members.
Immediately following the Greek Griller, men and women will part ways, as prospective sorority members attend an information session to learn about each sorority, while prospective fraternity members disperse throughout Boston and Cambridge to visit any of the organizations that intrigue them.
Recruitment will continue in this way for the next few days; fraternity recruitment lasts until Friday and is free-form, with prospectives (and women as well) free to spend as much or as little time as they wish at each house, while sorority recruitment, which lasts until Wednesday, is much more structured, with the intent of ensuring fairness among sororities.
“The goal of the whole process is to make sure that the girls see each chapter,” Panhellenic Association recruitment chair Yicong Liu ’09 said. “We want them to make an informed choice, and this process allows them to efficiently see all the chapters, to see all the options that they have.”
The result is that fraternities spend much time, effort, and money trying to draw unaffiliated students, particularly freshmen, to meet their current members — to the benefit of the unaffiliated, who can enjoy delicious meals and an incredible variety of activities, from paintballing to kayaking, from riding roller coasters at Six Flags to cheering at a Red Sox game, all for free.
“Fraternity recruitment is an amazingly fun time,” Interfraternity Council (IFC) recruitment chair Christopher A. Fematt ’09 said. “You get to be involved in a humongous community before classes even start and meet a ton of people, both other freshmen and other upperclassmen. There is a lot of communicating … and it’s very exciting getting to go places … and to benefit from going places and learning about them from upperclassmen who know them well.”
Some freshmen are already excited about rush events. “I’ve heard a lot of rumors about the [fraternity rush] activities — Six Flags, steak and lobster dinners … I’m looking to see if it’s true,” freshman Nicholas Dou said. He is considering participating in rush because he “knows that frats at MIT are different, and are not necessarily always about partying.”
Freshman Roshan Ardhasseril said she didn’t consider participating in sorority recruitment until she arrived on campus, but that she now considers them an option. “I’m just keeping an open mind. They seem really nice,” she said.
“They seem to be a really tight group of people, but I don’t want it [recruitment] to limit the friends I make this year,” freshman Jennifer Wong said.
New this year for sorority recruitment is the addition of a sixth sorority, Pi Beta Phi, to MIT. Because there are no current MIT Pi Phis to run recruitment on the new sorority’s behalf, “they will be doing kind of an informal recruitment,” Liu said. “They will be at the first round of our recruitment to introduce themselves to all the girls, then they will not join us for any of the remainder; instead, they will hold their own process, which will be slightly different, and later in the semester.” Liu added that the new sorority will be actively seeking new members from all classes at MIT.
For fraternities, there are fewer tangible changes for this year, but still important ones nonetheless, Fematt said. “We added the recruitment seminars, held yesterday, in which we had freshmen come in and get some face time with me on best practices for being a rushee … so that when freshmen go in they have a better understanding of what’s going on, rather than having to pick it up along the way.”
This is important knowledge for prospective recruits to have. “So when you’re at Six Flags and they pull you aside and have a serious talk and say ‘let’s talk about recruitment,’ you aren’t surprised,” Fematt said.
Moreover, the IFC has experienced a shift in philosophy regarding regulations. “[The IFC is] already at the table for planning Orientation; about half sits on the [the planning committee] … and seeing how much work goes into these events helps us communicate it down to our constituents the purpose of these events. For instance, we understand that the Tuesday night event is a great way for freshmen to learn about student activities, or the Friday night is a great opportunity for freshmen to meet each other.”
Because “fraternity men are, across the board, better able to understand the reasons for these events,” Fematt said, they do not undermine them by taking freshmen away from them. And as a result, there is less need for rules.
“We used to have a huge gag rule: during the no recruiting period, there were no letters allowed and affiliations could not be revealed,” Fematt said. “Now we’re able to say you can talk about your affiliation; it’s because of that understanding that fraternity men have.”
As for sororities, there is great excitement, and a bit of suspense, about this year’s recruitment because of the timing. Last year was the first in several years that sorority recruitment occurred in the fall — previously it occurred over IAP.
“We’re very excited, because when we moved back [to the fall] we did extremely well and we’re hoping that that momentum will build,” Liu said. She added that there are a number of advantages to fall recruitment. “[This way] women get a support network really early on. That’s actually very important because during freshman year sometimes it’s a little bit hard to adjust and having that community early on helps! Also there are fewer people going in with preconceived notions of chapters.”
Liu continued “It helps people to give a fair look to each chapter; we think that people are really seeing all their options and making an informed decision. And … this is kind of my own personal opinion, but it gives them more time to enjoy pass/no record.”
A 2005 Panhel report analyzing the switch suggested that fall recruitment could boost membership. “During fall recruitment, friendships are newer and more pliable,” the report states. “Women may be more inclined to make decisions independently of their orientation friends than they were with their friends from the first semester.”
Lulu Wang contributed to the reporting of this article.