After last November’s brief moratorium on all social events held in Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) fraternity houses, Greek life has regained its momentum and rush is officially underway.
Last semester, all 12 IFC fraternities were subjected to disciplinary action after a reported sexual assault involving non-affiliates occurred inside the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity house. Currently, fraternities are still not allowed to have open parties and are limited to invite-only events.
Additionally, members of the administration have met with all of the fraternities on campus, and the University is enforcing a dry rush more strictly than in past years. All fraternities have been told that any house that breaks this rule will lose this year’s pledge class.
These additional regulations have not been unanimously embraced.
Sophomore Matthew Ullman, a recruitment chair in Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), views the administration’s heightened scrutiny of the rush process as a way for the school to mend its public image, rather than a measure that would address the deeper problem of sexual assault.
“I think that the school has done a less than stellar job in dealing with the fraternities at Hopkins,” Ullman said. “One of the most frustrating things for me is that I can’t truly buy into the notion that the school is acting solely for the benefit of the students. In other words, I think there are ancillary motives at work, most likely being the public image of the fraternity.”
Students had voiced similar concerns when the short moratorium was imposed last semester without input from the Student Government Association (SGA).
Other students expressed unease about how effectively the administration would be able to enforce a dry rush.
“A forced dry rush is going to have two outcomes. Either people stick to it, or they’re going to be driven to drink aggressively in private instead of in a controlled, more open setting,” said a member of Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) who preferred to remain anonymous.
Yet despite the administration having a greater hand in the rush process than in previous years, others feel that the controversy surrounding last semester’s moratorium has been blown out of proportion.
“I think the brief slow-down period was a good time for self-reflection and to think of new ways to approach meeting freshman,” Austin Lee, a member of Lambda Phi Epsilon, said.
Rachel Xian, a junior in Kappa Alpha Theta, believes that although last semester’s assault has not shown the Greek community in the best light, it is the community’s response to the assault that really matters.
“Though recent events and their consequences in the Panhellenic community are significant reminders of a broader assault problem, I don’t think they’ve had as much bearing on sororities as some people think they have,” Xian said. “Look at it this way: In recruitment, who is actually talking to who? Is it one cynical public talking to an entire organization? Or is it one girl talking to real individuals? As a Greek organization, we can either complain about how others’ actions affect us, or we can right the wrongs ourselves. Instead of talking about issues, let’s just talk. It’s hard to remember stigmatized presumptions when we’re greeted with a warm handshake and a genuine smile.”
Apricot Tang, a sophomore in Alpha Phi, agreed that the personal connections created during rush would be stronger than the impressions created by the University’s blanket social ban last fall. She didn’t believe that the administration’s current regulations on rush would result in a different dynamic than the one she experienced when she rushed last spring.
“I decided to rush because I felt like I was not doing enough for myself to be surrounded by company that I truly enjoyed and by young women I felt served as good role models,” Tang said. “When I decided to rush, I had no idea what distinguished each sorority from each other. All I cared about was finding a group who would hopefully like me because we shared a similar value system. I always promised myself that I would be honest with whoever I was speaking to.”
Tang added that the administration’s rules are not the only regulations that Greek organizations on campus will have to abide by.
“Anyway, the rules [regarding rush] have always been strict since there are consequences from internationals [sorority headquarters],” she said.
In that vein, many members of both sororities and fraternities seem less worried about the administrative scrutiny and more excited about meeting their new pledges.
“I do not see a change in the views and attitudes of the potential new members,” Pavitra Gudur, a senior in Pi Beta Phi, said. “I’m always amazed by the increase in the number of girls who register and go through Panhellenic recruitment. It’s always nice to learn about the fellow Hopkins students that you would not have otherwise met through short conversations.”
Gudur is no stranger to rush, as she has been a part of the recruitment process for the past three years, beginning with her own rush as a freshman, when there were only four sororities on campus. Gudur still enjoys the process.
“It’s incredible to see all of my sisters come together for the entire recruitment process and welcome our new members into our sisterhood,” Gudur said.
Xian expressed her optimism about Theta’s role on campus during the upcoming semester.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting year for us,” said Xian. “Theta is really starting to find our place and getting our footing in Hopkins Greek life.”
Rush, which began after online recruitment registration closed at noon on Jan. 30, has been continuing this week and will culminate in Invitation Day for sororities on Feb. 6.
Editor’s Note: News & Features Editor Emily Herman, who also serves as the Chief Panhellenic Officer for Kappa Alpha Theta, was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.