Calm Before the Storm: Prepare your Fraternity for Rush

Without regularly taking new members, most clubs and organizations, especially those on college campuses, would quickly die out. Stellar recruitment not only solves problems, but prevents a hell of a lot of them from ever materializing. With the constant changing of the guard that happens in undergraduate Greek organizations, it can be difficult to analyze what aspects of recruitment went well or poorly. Foremost, each new member class is fundamentally different, and the recruitment chair is usually so burned out after it’s all over that he doesn’t feel like sharing his experiences with anybody.

However, adequately preparing for rush before the semester starts can prepare your organization to deal with common issues. Below I’ll detail some of my tips on how to do your job correctly because, let’s face it, nobody wants to be known as the “rush chair who messed up rush.”

Whether you do Fall, Spring, and/or Summer rush, you will always have a time period of several weeks to prepare for the formal rush period. You can blow thousands of dollars on planning outrageous rush events and then spend the rest of this time period talking about how “sick” the rush schedule is and how “dope” your rush class will surely be.

Instead, I recommend trying to organize rush as meticulously as possible. Having a set schedule of rush events is a great start. Even better is planning events that will appeal to the type of man you are trying to recruit. A Super Smash Brothers tournament could be an incredible rush event, or could make some people roll their eyes when they hear your fraternity’s name. Use your best judgement.

Next, you need to establish criteria for selection. This should be a fraternity-wide discussion. Who are you looking for? How do you define eligibility? What traits does your fraternity need the most? What type of behavior will get someone black-balled? Establish standards and a voting procedure that leaves little room for misinterpretation come voting night.

Finally, you need a reliable way to familiarize your brotherhood with, and help your brotherhood continuously assess, rushes. During any new school year, we’ll collect names of incoming freshmen who may have gone to the same high school as some of our actives as well as legacies- those related to brothers of our fraternity. Formal rush for freshmen doesn’t begin until the spring, so we have all fall to hang out with them.

This is a good start. They get invited out, have a good time, and phone numbers start getting distributed. But then, friends get brought along. Maybe we like them too. Then more people show up out of nowhere. The recruitment chair is soon managing 30+ names of quality rushes. Some nights in the fall we’ll see dozens of new faces. We have to start turning away familiar faces at the door due to space constraints. Then, we realize that a few of the new people are much better fits for our fraternity than some of the originals. The recruitment chair moves to cut people, but half of the fraternity has been too busy having a good time to know what’s been going on. It turns into complete chaos and it always, always results in hard feelings, lost opportunities and the overloading of the rush chair and all of his close associates.

One tool my chapter has been using to avoid these common pitfalls is GreekPillar, a web app that allows the entire chapter to contribute to rush in meaningful ways. The rush chair and his committee can schedule events and track attendance using the built in calendar. The brothers can familiarize themselves with prospective members and write comments about them seamlessly. It’s guaranteed to give your recruitment chair his life back.

Once you’re ready to face rush head on, one additional thing that your chapter should talk about is the “script.” Of the sororities I am friendly with, I understand this is a big deal during sorority recruitment, which is much more formal at my school. By script, I mean that your brotherhood should all be on the same page without sounding monotonous. Everyone should know your fraternity’s history, accomplishments, elevator pitch, and how to talk to people without being off-putting (e.g. you shouldn’t be speaking negatively about other Greek organizations). It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Getting everyone in your chapter on the same page and taking the time to properly prepare for rush can help ensure a smooth journey through the most stressful time of the year.