For parents of incoming freshman, you have probably started to hear about fraternity rush. The way rush is handled for fraternities are radically different than sororities, but I am glad to give you the parent perspective on both (check out our blog on sororities ). Either way, you will not find too many who love the process. But like it or not, Greek life does have its advantages, especially at a large college; and kids are probably not going to forgo the rumors about rush if it means not joining. So buckle up; the ride can get a bit bumpy. FSU’s President has recently lifted the suspension on Greek life, but has also instituted new policies and procedures to ensure student safety.
Interfraternity Council (IFC) rush is right around the corner:
- House preview: February 6th and 7th (meet at Westcott Fountain)
- Rush orientation: Sunday, February 11th at 3:00 PM in SSB 203
- Rush: February 12th-14th
My first child to go to FSU is a girl so I got to experience the sorority rush first. I was inducted by a somewhat nerve-wracking letter from the President of the university forewarning parents about the upcoming rush week events. This letter basically prepared us for potential disappointment as our daughters may not get the sorority of their choice and may, in turn, be very upset. I never did receive this letter about fraternity rush and frankly, he was the one I was more worried about having heard rumors of hazing and the harshness of how they can get dropped from houses throughout the process.
Fraternity rush is somewhat disorganized and a bit chaotic. A good part of the “meeting and greeting” begins unofficially during Summer C. Frat brothers proudly wear their letters and have a lot of “social events” going on so boys can sort of just hang out and get a feel for the different houses. The more official rush is usually the second or third week of school and will eventually be announced. At that time boys go from house to house, where they are greeted by brothers who will “interview” them. They can spend practically a whole evening, if they choose, at one house and never get to others.
Time To Go
They can get asked to leave (yes, asked to leave, as in, “We don’t think you will fit in here. You can leave now.”) regardless of how much time they have invested getting to know some of the other brothers. They do not have to go to each of the twenty-one houses; they go to the ones they want to. This can lead to boys putting a great deal of time and energy into specific houses that they may get their hearts set on and may or may not get a bid for. In the end, this could mean not getting a frat at all; particularly if they didn’t make the rounds, per say. Try to encourage your son to not put all his eggs in one basket; broaden his horizons and check out all the frats, not just the ones deemed popular, touting a reputation they would like to be associated with and/or cool Greek letters. He may be pleasantly surprised by some of the smaller houses. Try to stay in touch with your son as his support system; should he need it. The rejection is real.
Most boys do find their fraternity; others may not get accepted to the frat of their choice, but there is a second rush opportunity in the spring. There are many alternatives to the social life fraternities provide as well. To help smooth out the feelings of rejection, particularly if some of his friends got asked back, remind him of the many other houses or diverse clubs and activities outside of Greek life.
Most going through recruitment already have heard about the different fraternity houses at FSU. I know I keep saying houses, but let me clarify; not all frats have an actual house. There are some that have houses on the outskirts of campus and others who are part of Heritage Grove, an off-campus apartment complex that has chapter rooms in the back of the apartment buildings. Some are aesthetically nicer than others, but do not try to compare any of them to the sorority houses. (Insert image of Animal House here.) Yet, as recruitment begins most boys will already know which frats are considered the most popular and which preconceived labels go with each. That is exactly what can make this a difficult process, because just like in the real world, rumors are not fact. If you have any influence at all, encourage your sons to look beyond the Greek letters (all houses have a combination of them) and have an open mind. Hopefully, your son will be able to move beyond the labels and focus more on finding like-minded young men and a place where he will fit in. He may also want to consider the fraternities’ national standing. This can come in rather handy later when looking to network and find a job in the world beyond college even in another city.
How It Works
Here is a little about how it works. Hopefully, your son will get a bid from the house he wants. A bid is basically an invitation to join their fraternity. They then have three options to either 1.) Accept the bid and rush is over for him or 2.) Sit on the bid, the most common choice during rush week, as it allows him to continue to visit other frats and maybe even collect more bids. In the end, he can only accept one of the bids or 3.) Decline a bid and continue the hunt. And then the fun really begins; pledging.
Once a bid has been accepted your student becomes a pledge. Fraternities have been in the national spotlight due to the tragic death of several members at various college campuses. Many universities, particularly FSU, are taking a very strict approach to suspending any organization for any infraction that falls under their definition of hazing. Talk to your student before he accepts a bid as to how to handle any situation that makes him feel uncomfortable. If you have any doubts or questions as to whether what your son is experiencing may be hazing; test your knowledge of hazing here.
So far I haven’t sugar-coated rush, so I won’t start now. Rush is based on first impressions, judgments and appearances; certainly, in the first few rounds. This being said, mention to your son to be sure his social media is looking good. Don’t think they won’t check. The Interfraternity Council tries to promote the positive aspects of joining a fraternity and takes it very seriously. They try to oversee that regulations are upheld, but they can only have eyes in so many places.
At this point, you may be thinking why would I want my son to subject himself to going through this process? Personally speaking, while fraternity life may not be for everyone, they do offer a lot of benefits including being extremely visible and active on campus, involvement in philanthropies and they make the massive size of FSU seem a little smaller. Fraternity brothers partake in rituals that are unique to their letters, nationally and internationally, promoting brotherhood. Frats provide leadership opportunities as they are student-run organizations. Fraternities also teach our young men great interviewing skills as they are often asked off-the-wall questions that promote thinking on their feet. It teaches them a great deal about social interactions and hopefully about being a gentleman as they will always be representing their letters.
If I am speaking Greek, let’s address some of the particulars. Dues range from about $500-$1,500 per semester. Some activities will cost extra; like formals which usually take them out of town and can be as much as $300-$500 for the weekend. All in all, if you (and he) can get through rushing/pledging, brotherhood is a beautiful thing.
Learn the facts about recruitment.