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