When rumors circulated last year that Greek Recruitment was going to be delayed to the spring semester, all hell broke loose. I remember going to my on-campus job at the Admission Center and hearing the enraged arguments of my co-workers, quarreling like middle schoolers. Postponing rush would be an unfair punishment that would not yield better results, they’d say. But it’s hard to not see the obvious benefits of spring rush — more time for adjusting to life on campus, studying for classes that are undoubtedly harder than those from high school and making friends the old-fashioned way. It is no surprise that fall rush, taking place during a traditionally hectic first week of classes, is a ritual easily euphemized as “a week of hell for a lifetime of friends.”
Typically, this is what attracts potential new members the most: the promise of immediate friends, or even better, brothers and sisters. Of course, the emptiness that plagues nearly every incoming student can be filled by a variety of activities, opportunities or internships. But what’s a great internship without 100 plus Facebook friends to proudly announce it to? It may as well not even exist. It doesn’t matter that every freshman is experiencing the same sort of loneliness; friends must be found — and fast.
During rush, girls especially are bombarded with tempting pleas such as “Come Home,” “Find Your Family” and “Join the Best Girls at USC” from the day they set foot on campus, thus becoming victim to a largely smoke-and-mirrors marketing scheme during one of their most vulnerable times in their lives. Why not give incoming students at least a semester to decide if they want to respond to those messages? A resident assistant last year in New North, a popular dorm for those looking to join Greek life, had to watch “girls get back from events at 1 a.m. without having eaten dinner, after standing in 100 degree heat in makeup and heels all day, exhausted from all of the socializing in a completely alien environment.” The RA does not identify as “anti-Greek,” but after noticing the toxic environment of fall rush where “people are essentially grouped off from the very start,” she stands in support of Spring Rush.
Several universities have taken this question to heart by deferring rush to the spring semester. Vivian Saxon, a member of a sorority at Vanderbilt University, stated that spring rush “allows you to have time to develop a community outside of Greek life, integrating you into a social scene that isn’t limited to your sorority. A lot of your friends in the fall will join different sororities, so you have friends all over campus in different communities, really negating a lot of the limitations and exclusivity of fall rush.” Saxon introduces the radical idea that Greek life is not everything. Most Greek members at USC would make the same argument, though remain unwilling to compromise on moving rush.
This could be my inner GDI speaking, but the tradition of fall recruitment doesn’t seem to have been established by divine revelation; just because it hasn’t been changed doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. One problem deferred rush could solve is that of the alienation of spring admits. These students already have it tough, jumping into USC five months after everyone else while attempting to assimilate into daily college life. If anyone needs a boost in the social department, it’s them. Deferred rush seems to solve this problem. Some will point out the apparent hypocrisy at suggesting that rushing immediately is bad for fall admits yet good for spring admits. However, a student beginning USC in the spring is in an entirely different situation. They are thrust into an environment that most have spent the last five months tackling. Feeling behind and excluded are common for spring admits. For them, rushing with the fall admits could help shrink the divide that obviously exists.
Unfortunately, benefits to deferred rush are overshadowed by a fear of possible removal from campus. Some Greeks argue that deferring rush to spring is a gateway decision that will inevitably lead to President C.L. Max Nikias’ supposed master plot to abolish Greek life at USC. The fear is not unfounded, yet not tangible enough to resist change of any kind, as Nikias has not made any formal indication of his hatred of Greek life. In whatever realm, developments should be made if they bring about healthy and positive results, regardless of fantastical potential repercussions.
So far, the biggest reason rush has to take place during the first week of classes is tradition, meaning it would be inconvenient to change. Yet, I would challenge students to think back to their first week of freshman year, remembering the stress, the confusion, the isolation and the frustration, and sift through the reasons why rush and the beginning of classes should go hand-in-hand. While Greek life may be considered an “integral” part of the USC experience by some, there is no declaration saying that “integral” part needs to begin the second a student steps on campus. USC is brimming with talented freshmen who are eager to build their social circle — let’s see what they come up with before their Greek families decide for them.