People say that college is the best four years of their lives. For many new students, it is their first time living away from home. It is a time dedicated to exploring interests, meeting new people from all walks of life and learning how to live in the real world. During these years, students learn how to balance tough coursework, clubs, activities and social events. All of these new opportunities thrust upon freshmen can be intimidating and easily overwhelming, something the University recognized when it introduced deferred rush.
Deferred rush was implemented this fall, in an attempt to improve student life. This rule prevents students from rushing a Greek organization before completing at least 12 units while maintaining a 2.5 minimum GPA. The administration thought this would improve campus life by allowing students to focus on coursework and adapt to college for a semester. However, not all students need to have their hands held by the University and can manage their own time effectively. Students who are able to handle Greek rush in their first semester at USC should not be deprived of the opportunity.
The implementation of deferred rush at USC is not an adequate solution to improving freshman life across campus. Rather, this poorly-executed attempt to get students to focus on academics fails to acknowledge the potentially negative effects of any of the other time-consuming activities on USC’s campus. If the University was truly trying to urge freshmen to focus on coursework for their first semester, the Student Affairs office should have enacted a requirement for students to complete a semester before joining any club or organization.
Greek houses are beneficial environments for new students particularly for a variety of reasons. Being a member of a fraternity or sorority allows students to network professionally and socially, all while creating bonds that will last a lifetime. Greek organizations highly value academic success; it would greatly jeopardize the reputation of a fraternity or sorority if they were to ever require a member to forgo their coursework for a Greek event.
Those who pledge are often the most driven students on campus. At USC, 1,948 fraternity members are each involved in more than two organizations, while 806 members are leaders of campus organizations. Furthermore, USC’s Greek life is overwhelmingly recognized for its academic, philanthropic, athletic and social achievements. In the last year, USC Greek life collectively donated nearly $200,000 to various charities and spent just under 30,000 combined hours volunteering.
The administration believes that Greek life has significant drawbacks for first semester freshmen because rushing is time-consuming and could lead to students not making school their first priority. However, that same logic could be applied to groups like the marching band, sports teams and Trojan Knights. Joining these take up as much or more time in a freshman’s schedule as rushing does, but these organizations have been unaffected by the University’s futile attempt to help students focus on coursework by deferring rush. This reasoning is evidence to believe that the University has a deeper grievance with Greek life and is attempting to mask that with a weak excuse instead.
The decision to go Greek as a first semester student can be tough. Students can often forget their priorities and put their social lives ahead of their school work. However, college is a time when young people become adults; it is the individual’s responsibility to govern their time management, not the University’s. Moreover, if students become overwhelmed they have the liberty to drop and decide that Greek life isn’t right for them or rush during a later semester.
The way USC Student Affairs implemented deferred rush was reckless and significantly affected the finances of Greek houses. Deferred rush was implemented with very little warning which didn’t allow houses adequate time to properly manage their finances for this major loss in membership.
Member dues are one of the largest sources of income for houses; each sorority member pays between $2,000 and $3,000 per semester while fraternity members pay slightly less. Fraternities and sororities expect to recoup the financial loss from members who graduate each semester through the incoming pledge class. A better alternative on the University’s part would have been to alert the fraternities of the new rules at least a year in advance or allow for a transitional period.
Vice President of Student Affairs Ainsley Carry and his office should reconsider their decision to limit the opportunities that freshmen have to join social organizations. The resolution should be an absolute decision to either prevent freshmen from joining any organization or allow them to be adults and make their own life choices. The choice to target Greek life specifically is wrong and is indicative of the prejudice the University has against Greek organizations.