Opinion » Editorial | Oct. 10
With the announcement of rush numbers this week, the Board feels that it is important to discuss the effects of the freshman rush ban. When the ban was initially passed, many observers thought that it would hurt membership in Greek organizations. The thought was that sophomores who were better established would have less of an interest in social organizations than new freshmen who were still looking for friends and for groups to join. However, with the release of the statistics for sorority rush, it is clear that this has not been the case. This year’s rush numbers are almost identical to the number of students who rushed in the years before the ban. While we have written in the past about the ban and still feel that it should be one semester rather than a year, we feel it is important to revisit this topic in light of these new numbers.
On the one hand, the ban has in some ways achieved its goals. During rush this year, anecdotal evidence suggests that sophomores rushed with an established group of friends. If the aim of the ban was to encourage people to first form friendships outside of Greek organizations, it seems to have worked. As a result of having to wait a year, the people who rushed have had ample time to think about their activities on campus and decide whether Greek life is a good fit for them. The ban has undoubtedly eliminated some of the pressure to rush that comes from being a freshman who is new to Princeton and looking to meet people and for a way to fit in.
Additionally, the ban has helped sophomores who chose to rush by giving them more time to consider their options. By giving potential rushees more time to meet members from different organizations, the ban has helped them more closely evaluate their options. Furthermore, it has given members of fraternities and sororities more time to meet potential rushees. One criticism of freshman rush was that it favored people who came from high schools that send many students to Princeton. The worry was that students who came from smaller, less wealthy schools did not have anyone to guide them through the rush process and would therefore be discouraged from joining a Greek organization. We feel there is reason to believe that the ban has helped open Greek life to more people and has given students more time to consider its pros and cons.
The Board does worry that the ban may have served to isolate students more. One of the arguments for joining a Greek organization has always been that it exposes students to a group of people that they might not otherwise meet through their academics or extracurricular activities. Students rushing with their friends may have lost some of this advantage. However, even those who rushed with friends will be able to benefit from Greek life’s ability to connect younger students with upperclassmen. Again, we reiterate our belief that a shorter ban that lasts a semester would help connect these students to upperclassmen earlier while addressing those concerns that prompted the institution of a yearlong ban.
What is clear though is that there is still a place for Greek life on campus. The large number of rushees indicates that there are still sophomores who think that Greek organizations have something to offer them. These sophomores have friends and are established within Princeton but still saw potential benefits in the Greek experience. While the ban has helped limit some of the negative aspects of fraternities and sororities, it has also helped highlight the value they add to the lives of many Princeton students.
ABSTAIN: Ethan Jamnik, Brandon Holt, Zach Horton
DISSENT: Lily Offit, Sean Chen
“Fixing” the Greek system by moving to a one-semester ban is a step in the wrong direction. Such a regressive move would serve only to continue to place our newest arrivals on campus at the mercy of what the Working Group on Campus Social and Residential Life called a “faux Greek system” characterized by “social stratification, cliquishness and high-risk drinking and hazing.” Let’s be honest: Greek life at Princeton still serves largely as a pipeline to the selective clubs. It undermines the social diversity it has taken generations for the University to achieve. Rather than compromise our ideals, let us redouble our commitment to inclusiveness. Let the new leadership of this University hear the voices of those who decry a faux Greek system that only further stratifies and isolates, plays to insecurity and weakness, rather than building the sense of community that this University strives to embody.