Letter to the Editor: ISU fraternities need an unbiased recruitment system

J. Mason Bump

As a former Spring and Summer Recruitment Chairman, I feel that the recruitment system in place works adequately, and for some people, that may be enough. But if greek chapter members truly want the community to grow and thrive, another route than informal is without doubt the best alternative.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the way recruitment works for fraternities at Iowa State, it begins at Greek Getaway, where many young adults are shuffled into different chapter houses to gain a better understanding of what we are all about as a community and what chapter may best suit their needs as a person looking to better themselves through the unique experience of being a member of a chapter. We have an enormous amount of chapters on our campus to choose from, and this makes it hard for anyone “rushing” to make a decision. Naturally, many men choose to wait, and then Summer Recruitment begins, which is when the large majority of greek men are recruited.

This process, though largely unchanged throughout much of Iowa State’s history, is flawed in a few ways. The first begins well before Greek Getaway, when chapters apply to host one of the event’s famous and entertaining non-alcoholic block parties. The idea of screening events is sound; the community would not want their potential recruits attending a poorly-planned event, yet at the same time, if a party is awful, nobody shows up. It is simple logic that anyone who has seen or attended a bad event knows to be true: If you are at a bad event, you move on to the next one.

So why is it up to those in charge to say whether a chapter can throw a harmless event during this crucial time to recruit new members? Not being allowed to throw a block party on this weekend is crushing to the efforts of recruitment chairmen, and while some chapters may end the weekend with up to 15 signed bid cards, others will have a hard time recruiting even one simply because of the awful position it puts the chapter in compared to ones that were allowed to host an event. This should be changed, preferably to a system that puts all chapters on equal footing rather than a select few.

Not only are many chapters not allowed the same publicity as other chapters due to block parties, there is a discrepancy with the amount of chapter recruit tours. Every Rho Gamma is given a schedule of chapters to tour with their group of potential new members, yet the amount of houses being toured is not even close to half the chapters on campus. This weekend should be focused primarily on exposure to as many chapters as is possible to help recruits make their decisions about which chapters to pursue.

The next issue occurs throughout the summer, when many chapters vie for the attention of many potential recruits through usual informal recruitment methods, such as meeting with men in their homes, taking them out to meals or throwing events to meet more members. This works excellently, in theory, until one realizes that one of the key facets of successful informal recruitment is ensuring it is a total-chapter process, and for nearly all chapters most of the membership moves away to internships or other obligations, leaving the fate of recruiting an entire pledge class in the hands of one to three people. The kind of stress associated with this level of work is unparalleled in nearly any other position a chapter can offer.

While there is a formal recruitment in the fall, the advertising for it on campus and among students has been, at best, atrocious. On most campuses it’s one of the biggest weeks in the fall semester other than Homecoming, yet at Iowa State most students don’t even know it’s going on. For this reason, most of the incoming students that wanted to wait until arriving on campus to look into the greek community never get contacted again by recruitment chairs or know that there is an event for them. This ensures that a large percentage of men that may have wanted to join remain untapped potential.

Statistics prove that, though we have made the informal system work the best we can, the formal recruitment process is much more efficient, as nearly all of the sororities on campus can tell you. Last year most chapters at the University of Iowa regularly recruited pledge classes of 30 to 50 men using the formal rush system even with a much smaller greek community, yet last year at Iowa State the average pledge class size after informal recruitment during the summer averaged about 15 members, the largest class amounting to a little over 30 men. This was even after acquiring the largest freshman class in recent ISU history. Not only does the formal system ensure equality, it is also much safer and better regulated. Everyone gets an equal chance to meet recruits and Greek Affairs can keep a good eye on everything to make sure no dirty rushing occurs.

The greek community desperately needs to make the switch to a formal recruitment process if it is to keep growing. Regardless of what you may think, most small houses want to make the switch to a large house desperately, yet are sabotaged from the start because of that designation, examples being not allowed approval for a block party unless it is with a large chapter (meaning the large chapter essentially gets first pick of the recruits), being limited on how many men can stay at their chapter for Greek Getaway (many get taken out of small chapters with capacity and put into larger chapters), and being listed on all recruitment materials as a chapter that does not recruit large pledge classes (the key factor should be whether they want to recruit large classes).

So, you’re probably asking, why haven’t we upgraded yet?