Fraternity rush was busier than ever this year, with three additional fraternities joining the recruitment craze — Phi Beta Epsilon (PBE), which was on rush suspension for two years; Alpha Sigma Phi (Alpha Sig), whose founding fathers are expanding their group; and Beta Theta Pi (Beta), which is recruiting a group of founding fathers to start anew.
Phi Beta Epsilon
PBE is rushing for the first time since 2010, after evidence of hazing submitted to the IFC resulted in a four-year ban on rushing. After reaching an agreement with MIT, the suspension was reduced to two years. During that time, the fraternity has been in a period of “self improvement,” according to PBE President Timothy M. Galvin ’13, which included the development of a new “open source” member education program, the full text of which is available online as part of a focus on transparency. PBE is also bringing anti-hazing “to the forefront” as it expands its anti-hazing initiative from the Greek community into clubs and sports teams, according to Galvin.
PBE went into Rush this year with only a senior class of brothers, so they were open to rushing freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Despite this, Galvin said this rush was not much different from past rushes, since “alumni were essentially covering what we would be doing at full capacity.” The fraternity remains focused on quality, interested candidates rather than quotas, said Kyle J. Hannon ’13, because new members will need to assume leadership positions almost immediately due to the situation.
So far, Rush has been going well for PBE. “We’ve happy with the numbers we’ve seen, the potential new members we’ve seen,” said Galvin, “though we won’t know for sure until bids close on Wednesday.”
PBE also has plans to start a $7 million house renovation in project that will involve building a multi-story tower on the current building and making the property modern and environmentally friendly, said Galvin. The residents will move out of the house in the spring, and the renovations should be complete by Fall 2013.
Beta Theta Pi
Meanwhile, there was another new (but returning) face at the Greek Griller: Beta Theta Pi. The fraternity is currently searching for founding fathers to recolonize its MIT chapter, which was placed on suspension by its national organization in 2011, when members were told to move out and the chapter ceased to operate.
This recolonization effort follows a time of self-assessment for the fraternity, as the international organization realized that many of its chapters were not “operating in a matter in line with [Beta’s] principles,” according to Colony Development Coordinator Ryan Gee. Beta closed 50 percent of its approximately 160 chapters nationwide over the last several years, though it has expanded or recolonized 40 chapters since then.
While the original plan for the MIT chapter mentioned a Fall 2013 return, Gee said that there was strong interest among alumni in having an undergraduate chapter established and in place to celebrate Beta’s MIT founding in 1913. The alumni, along with Beta international and MIT, made the decision to come back a year early.
Gee is currently staffed at MIT for a full year to recruit a group of anywhere between 15 and 40 founding fathers to recolonize the chapter. The main recruitment will begin on Sept. 15 so as not to compete with Rush, said Gee, adding that Beta wants to “operate in partnership with the existing groups and the existing community.”
Like many frats claim, Beta says it will offer a different experience from other fraternities, but Gee says that there will be some concrete differences. According to Gee, Beta’s two houses on Bay State Road will be “dry,” meaning no alcohol consumption on the premises, and there will be a strong focus on leadership development.
During the main recruitment phase, Gee will have three additional staff members on campus helping to recruit students “seeking an entrepreneurial experience” to become founding fathers, and Gee himself will remain on campus until next May, when a successor will take over for another year. Gee plans to advertise around campus, and also build relationships and networks with students, in addition to working with Alpha Sigma Phi, which is also still recruiting founding fathers. The fraternity will also receive help from the IFC. “We can help out through using our system, seeing who went to some events, who declined their bids, and point them to those directions,” said IFC Vice President Louis DeScioli ’14. The recruitment period will be one of “rolling bids,” and founding fathers will be initiated by the end of the fall semester. “We have a couple of students that are showing strong signs of interest,” said Gee, who so far has only had one event at the Beta house. New members will be able to move into the house in Fall 2013, when the leases of the current graduate student tenants expire.
Alpha Sigma Phi
Alpha Sigma Phi came to MIT in the spring, when it sent a recruiter from its national organization to recruit founding fathers for what will become MIT’s chapter of Alpha Sig. It was successful in recruiting eight founding fathers, who are continuing to recruit to their group this fall. The group has hosted several events around campus during Rush, which were well attended, said President Cosmos Darwin ’15.
“Recruitment is going very well for us,” said Darwin. Alpha Sig plans on adding a handful of new members after Rush, which in terms of absolute numbers “will be less than most fraternities, but it will be a huge expansion for us,” said Darwin.
DeScioli also revealed during an interview that there is a new fraternity that will attempt to colonize MIT, Triangle fraternity. Triangle, which only recruits students studying engineering, architecture, math, and the sciences, is “ambitiously” planning to begin colonization next fall, but will most likely start in Fall 2014, said DeScioli. The fraternity will be able to colonize MIT following a change in its bylaws that will allow it to include graduate students when determining the size of schools that the organization can colonize, said DeScioli.