Student Life | Sept. 22

One year after freshman Greek ban, Class of 2016 recruits "more self-selective" and rush-savvy

The Class of 2016 will get its first chance to rush fraternities and sororities next month, as the first class to do so under the administration’s ban on freshman participation in Greek activities. Presidents of Greek organizations say the ban has had a noticeable impact on this year’s class of pledges, increasing students’ interest in Greek life and attracting a more dedicated rush-savvy class of recruits.

Sorority recruitment will begin on Monday, Sept. 30 and conclude on Friday, Oct. 4, according to the Kappa Alpha Theta website. All three of Princeton’s Panhellenic sororities — Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi — will be open to recruitment of sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Recruitment schedules for the campus’s 11 fraternities vary, but generally run for a longer portion of the semester than do sorority recruitments. For example, Phi Delta Theta recruitment begins during freshman week and concludes in mid-October, according to president Alex Pouschine ’15.

Freshmen are prohibited from rushing Greek organizations or participating in fraternity- and sorority-affiliated events due to a ban approved in fall 2012 by then-University president Shirley Tilghman. The ban was recommended by the Working Group on Campus Social and Residential Life in May 2011 with the intention of allowing student social life to center around eating clubs and residential colleges.

Cuauhtemoc Ocampo ’14, former Sigma Chi president, said the group of sophomores rushing Sigma Chi this year was larger than the total number of students who rushed in previous years, “about two to two-and-a-half times as big as before.” Nevertheless, Ocampo declined to specify the number of students rushing.

Ocampo attributed this rise in sophomore interest to the way that Greek life was made off-limits to freshmen, becoming “a forbidden fruit kind of thing.”

“You restrict a thing for a whole year, and people become curious,” Ocampo said. “They want to know what this organization is about, and so they come in large numbers.”

Pouschine added that the publicity of the freshman-rush ban had benefitted fraternities, which he said used to be “tucked in the shadows.”

“There’s this huge spotlight put on it,” Pouschine said, in reference to the ban’s effect on Phi Delta. “It’s brought a good amount of free advertising to us.” He added he did not see any reason why recruitment numbers would fluctuate significantly.

Some presidents have also noted a change in the composition of the sophomore rush group from previous years. Current Kappa Alpha president William Hicks ’15 noted that this year’s class of recruits has been choosing to rush based on friendships and associations made through campus organizations.

Hicks explained he’s seen “more groups of friends doing fraternities, rather than fraternities causing people to become friends.”

However, Hicks noted this trend may have the effect of discouraging recruits from “getting to know people outside of their corner of campus, whether an a cappella group or a club sports team.”

Hicks said while he felt the freshman rush ban was “almost unilaterally meant to weaken fraternities’ presence on campus,” it also allowed him to get to “know kids better” before rush begins.

“In a perfect world, rush would be second semester freshman year,” Hicks stated, saying it would provide freshmen with valuable social connections but minimize the blow to fraternities.

Pouschine also noted a difference in the commitment level of this year’s rush class.

“I suspect people have heard from their friends in above classes about fraternities,” he said. In previous years, freshmen would rush in order to explore Greek life, he explained, but this year’s rush group is “much more self-selective.”

Kappa president Kellen Heniford ’14 declined to comment about the size of the recruitment class but expressed enthusiasm about the upcoming sophomore rush.

“Kappa is very excited about what is shaping up to be a wonderful group of girls,” Heniford said.

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