Frat. Rush. Rushing.
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.
Pledging a frat is fairly similar at most schools, but the first thing I learned about pledging a fraternity at UCF is that it is long. Rush formally begins shortly after school begins and ends somewhere around Thanksgiving break. Over Summer, frats are looking to meet freshman and do give bids over summer for their fall pledge class. Pledging takes place most of their first semester in college. Yes, during their time of adjustment to the workload and freedom; they are also doing silly things like sleeping on the floor of their frat house once a week, running errands for brothers, and doing inane things like writing love letters to the frat sweetheart in alphabet soup letters, washing brother’s cars or doing their dishes, standing outside a sorority house and singing to the girls, writing and performing a short play, playing basketball in a suit and tie, and so on; all of which will somehow prove they are worthy. (I hope I haven’t given away any deep secrets here.) Sadly, if they cannot keep up with all of this, and their studies – many frats do require a good GPA be maintained – they can be asked to leave. This can happen at any point during pledging right up until the end, which as you can imagine, is a tremendous let down for him. Needless to say, I do not recommend pledging for incoming freshman. Spring rush is supposedly easier and they have had a little time to adjust to college.
Sororities better prepare parents for potential disappointment as our daughters may not get the sorority of their choice and may, in turn, be very upset. No one prepares us for fraternity rush other than the rumors of hazing and the harshness of how they can get dropped from houses throughout the process. It can still be devastating and unfortunately, it does happen. Hazing shouldn’t be much of an issue as it is (supposedly) closely monitored. There is one frat on campus that was on probation for two years prior to this year for that sort of thing. Hopefully, it was a lesson to all and all will be fine in the future.
Fraternity rush is somewhat disorganized and a bit chaotic. A good part of the “meeting and greeting” begins unofficially during the summer. 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. 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. Some frats only have events that require an invitation, especially towards the end of the week.
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 eighteen 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. During rush, 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 UCF. I know I keep saying houses, but let me clarify; all frats have “house.” There are some that have houses off campus, which may be a deciding factor for some. 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 it 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 essentially 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. Try not to let the rumors of hazing worry you because chances are it will never happen.
So far I haven’t sugar-coated rush, so I won’t start now. Rush is based on first impressions, judgments, and appearances. 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.
On the Other Hand
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 UCF 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 may 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 it’s a beautiful thing.
Learn the facts about recruitment.