Rushing around

Aug 252004
Authors: Christiana Nelson

Rushing around is a thing of the past for non-multicultural-focused sorority and fraternity Rush Week.

Rush Week begins for these Greek groups with an orientation at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Lory Student Center’s West Ballroom.

While fraternities have always remained laid-back during the biannual member recruitment week, also known as Rush, this year sororities are beginning to incorporate some informal activities into their process.

“The first day is going to be much more laid-back so they can get to meet the women in each chapter,” said Marnie Dowdell, a senior marketing major and Rho Gamma coordinator. “It will be a lot less singing and ‘rah-rah’ so the women feel more comfortable.”

Men’s recruitment will be primarily the same as previous years, but activities in the first two days of the process will be spread out so potential members can attend several fraternity events.

In addition to a more relaxed atmosphere, sorority recruitment is adding a philanthropy round, where potential members can see another side to Greek Life.

“Some girls come in with notions of a sorority and they don’t know about our community service,” said Andrea Hobbs, a junior political science and Spanish major and member of Pi Beta Phi sorority. “Philanthropy is a big part of who we are.”

Each of the eight sorority chapters and 13 fraternity chapters support a philanthropy group and then join together in the annual Up’til Dawn fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

While Patrick Hutchinson, a senior computer science major and Inter-Fraternity Council president, agreed community service is very important to the Greek mentality, he said men’s Rush is more focused on meeting members.

“The best part is that there is a wide variety of events, most of which include free food and lots of activities,” Hutchinson said, citing poker nights, steak and shrimp dinners and all-you-can-eat pizza.

Lenden Neeper, a sophomore microbiology major and member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, believes Rush is a great experience.

“At first it is intimidating,” Neeper said. “But once you get in there and take the plunge to meet everybody it is really fun.”

After going through Rush during the spring of her freshman year, Hobbs agreed.

“It can be a little overwhelming, but it is so exciting to see all the houses and you get to meet a lot of people just through Rush,” she said.

While Rush may be overwhelming to some, Mark Koepsell, director of Greek Life, believes joining a sorority or fraternity is valuable.

“Fraternity and sorority involvement can enhance leadership, provide outlets for community service, provide programming for academic excellence and is excellent network for career placement,” Koepsell said.

Connections are just one of the reasons Liz Sheppard, a freshman veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences major, is looking forward to rushing.

She will be one of nearly 700 students expected to participate in fall Rush. In the past, 80 percent of Rush participants chose to join Greek Life, Koepsell said.

While Sheppard is anticipating a sorority will provide weekend activities and “lasting friendships with different kinds of people,” the experience is not for everyone.

“I feel like I have met plenty of people so far and it is just a lot of money,” said Bobby McNary, a freshman open-option major. “No doing it is also a lack of time, I’m looking for a job and I’m just getting settled with classes and everything.”

Regardless of individual opinions of Greek Life, Dowdell encourages others to explore Rush Week.

“It doesn’t hurt anything to try,” Dowdell said. “There’s a lot more to Greek Life than people know or really want to know, it is kind of like, ‘Don’t knock it until you try it.'”

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