Deferred recruitment for greek life is the right move

It’s been a little more than a month since the Faculty Senate passed the resolution calling for the deferment of greek recruitment to spring semester. Since then, several members of the greek system have voiced concern over the proposal, denouncing it as an blatant attack on greek life.

It’s easy to understand why greek leaders are scared of the resolution — they view it as a threat to the presence of greek life on campus. But their fear also lies in a greater misunderstanding of the proposal as an effort to curb greek life rather than a thoughtful change that could help make the recruitment process more welcoming for all involved.

The Senate’s proposal, which essentially would require all students taking part in recruitment to wait until they have obtained a USC GPA, was met with opposition by greek leaders, who took issue with both the content of the proposal as well as the way it was reached, citing a lack of student opinion in the decision-making process. Undergraduate Student Government President Rini Sampath echoed concerns in a Nov. 9 post on Facebook, arguing, “We, as students, need to have a voice on every issue that pertains to our college experience.”

While the inclusion of student voices in decisions such as this one is undoubtedly important, so too is the assurance that students’ first experiences at the University are a positive one — an issue that this proposal seeks to address.

The transition to college is by no means an easy one. New students need to be given time to find their footing before being thrust into all the opportunities USC has to offer, and deferring greek recruitment is one way of doing that. Finding one’s niche is a difficult task while simultaneously juggling the stresses of academics and extracurricular involvement. Giving students the chance to focus on school their first semester before taking part in the hectic nature of rush and pledging will only result in a more secure, well-established group of prospective new members for the greek system when recruitment begins in the spring.

What is perhaps more profound about the deferment of greek recruitment — which begins even before the start of classes — is that it understands and seeks to productively address the stressful environment that recruitment creates. For students that join greek life, the concentration of multiple mandatory events immediately at the beginning of the semester can prove extremely stressful when juggling academic and extracurricular commitments.

And for the hundreds of freshmen turned down by the greek institutions of their choice, rejection can be a painful blow to receive so early in their undergraduate experience — devastation that can shape their outlook on the rest of the semester. The mental health ramifications of the social hierarchy of the greek system, then, can have grave consequences for new recruits. Shifting this recruitment to the spring semester can cushion the blow as students would have a support system to guide them through the recruitment process.

Furthermore, giving students the opportunity to assimilate to college life and get involved in other activities could also benefit the greek system by giving them an additional semester to attract more well-rounded recruits. Too often, new students are faced with handling the demands of recruitment often at the expense of getting involved in other things. And spring recruitment would allow students to engage with the people of the greek system before the recruitment process, giving them an objective view of greek life instead of relying on archaic stereotypes of different houses.

Just as USG started a campus-wide conversation about mental health with months of programming, the Academic Senate is doing the same thing — starting a conversation that has already taken place on deferred recruitment campuses such as Baylor University, the University of San Diego, Villanova University and more. It perhaps takes a more mature perspective to understand how greek life affects mental health, but deferred recruitment could create real, tangible improvements for creating a more welcoming freshman experience.

Daily Trojan Fall 2015 Editorial Board

2 replies
  1. Leo P
    Leo P says:

    After reading your article, I’ve concluded that your understanding of the Greek community’s opposition is off base. The opposition to the resolution does not stem from the notion that the resolution is a threat to the presence of Greek life on campus. The opposition largely stems from the financial impact that Chapters would face by enacting the resolution. Even beyond that misunderstanding, I find contention with a majority of the claims in your article. Based on my background, I feel I can adequately comment on deferred recruitment.

    I’m a senior in a Fraternity, and transferred to USC my sophomore year. I am an active member in the Greek community, and continue to remain involved in both academic and extracurricular activities on campus. I transferred from a university with deferred recruitment, and therefore, had to wait until Spring to rush, after having the opportunity to explore other organizations during the Fall semester. With that in mind, I firmly oppose deferred recruitment and, looking back, wish I had been given the opportunity to decide when I could rush. I think your response to the resolution trivializes the argument from the Greek community.

    First, denying freshmen and incoming transfers the opportunity to rush their first semester at USC would be similar to denying USC the ability to accept an incoming Freshman class. Chapters rely on new members to replace the graduating seniors, and many Chapters would find themselves struggling to cover overhead and National dues without accepting Freshmen into their organizations.

    Second, you argue that trying to manage mandatory events at the beginning of the semester among academic and extracurricular commitments can make Freshmen stressed. What about on campus organizations like the Trojan Knights, Helenes, Marshall groups, band, or even sports? In the Fall semester, the football team and band travel to locations throughout the United States. How do you think the added stress of missing classes and approaching deadlines makes those students feel? Greek life is targeted because it’s the largest collective organization on campus, but it is no different than a number of other organizations that share the campus.

    Third, deferred recruitment will not make the rushing process feel more welcoming nor increase Freshmen on-campus involvement. The general benefit of rushing at the beginning of the academic year is that a majority of the incoming students are unaware of the perceived standings of Greek chapters. This affects fraternities more than sororities because of the different rushing processes. Males get to choose which fraternities they rush, as opposed to females, who must visit each sorority chapter. Having a general ignorance of the fraternity ranks encourages Freshmen to visit more Chapters than they would if they had a full semester to understand where each fraternity is perceived. By visiting more houses, Freshmen have more opportunities to enter a Chapter. As for involvement, do you think that once students join the Greek system they simply stop participating in other on-campus activities? Greek students are some of the most involved students on USC’s campus, and many Chapters even require participation in another on-campus organization.

    Finally, what happened to working together? This resolution was passed almost a month before the Faculty Senate decided to share the results with the Greek community, and caused a stir because the Administration started talks to change recruitment for Fall 2016. Moving recruitment doesn’t erase problems, it just creates new ones. USC will see more progress by working with its students. Hopefully we will find a way to appease Faculty and the Greek community, while also letting students enjoy their first semester of independence.

  2. Proud Trojan
    Proud Trojan says:

    To be fair, why is the deferment just focused on the Greek system? Isn’t finding your way as a Freshman or new transfer student part of the experience regardless of the path one chooses? Sure it’s stressful. Some doors will close. And others will open. Should our athletic teams, newspaper, clubs and marching band not recruit new students in the Fall too? Are the mental health issues somehow confined to just those seeking a Greek experience?

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