By Shelby Imes
Deep voices interwoven in small talk created a single buzz at the Inter Fraternity Council Open House on September 3rd. Lecture room ENGEO 230 was nearly filled to the brim as potential members filed in row-by-row until they reached the very top step of the lecture hall—a great turnout for the first official IFC Open House.
Inter Fraternity Council President Stephen Pease stepped forward as the chatter subsided, and began giving guidelines for how the open house was going to function. “I want you guys to have fun today,” said Pease. “You guys will get a chance to see every fraternity, organization. You guys are not with your friends today because you guys should be seeing it for yourselves.”
The purpose of the half day-long event was to give every potential member a chance to see all that fraternity life has to offer, but in previous years, fraternity rush wasn’t so organized.
“Before we did IFC Info Night, and that really was strictly volunteer. We were in festival, and each fraternity was able to set up their own table… We just planned an event and hoped it would go well,” admits Pease. “Now, we just wanted to switch it so everyone would have a chance to see every organization, and then start their rush week so they could rush where they see they feel best fit.”
After being oriented with the day’s schedule, potential members broke up into 16 groups and rotated through different rooms in ISAT, where representatives from each fraternity had 15 minutes to promote their organization. By nature, each fraternity had a different atmosphere and approach to their slot. Delta Tau Delta chose to have a casual meet-and-greet to get to know potential members and allow them to ask questions in a more informal setting. Other fraternities like Alpha Epsilon Pi and Delta Sigma Phi presented slideshows highlighting their mission, philanthropy, and popular events throughout the year.
Many fraternity brothers expressed excitement about the new open house format, saying that it “leveled the playing field” for every fraternity, especially smaller ones. “In the past it was kind of a pick-and-choose, word of mouth… it was very informal and it actually left a lot of fraternities out of the picture,” says Delta Tau Delta President Jae Kim. “Now this gives everyone a chance to have the same number of guys, and get Greek life up there.”
Fraternity rush at JMU is evolving from years passed in more ways than one. This semester, the Inter Fraternity Council introduced GreekLink, a website and app specifically designed to streamline the rush process for both fraternities and students who plan to rush. Before breaking into groups, potential members were asked to download the app.
“It just formalizes what we’re doing,” says IFC President-elect Keonhee Rho. “Rather than us handing out pieces of paper, it’s all online. It’s all on their phones.”
Users create a profile and connect to their university, where they can then sort through different fraternities’ accounts and learn more about their mission and current members. Potential members can also hop on GreekLink to gather information about rush events throughout the week.
While the app is a helpful tool for men rushing, GreekLink also benefits the fraternities through the analytics it can provide like potential members’ attendance and preferences; they can in turn use this information to report back to JMU.
“It gives us an opportunity to keep track of all of the numbers and show how our population is a growing community,” says Rho.
Above all, both the new application and the IFC Open House provide an opportunity for potential members to see and fraternities to present themselves in the best light possible.
“They were trying to cover all negative aspects, because they’re trying to cross off rumors…” says first-year student and attendee Matt Molthen. “It definitely gave me a better perspective of every fraternity that I’ve been to so far.”
Now, with the Open House crossed off the list and rush week on the horizon, Fraternity Life is ready to smoothly sail into a fun and functional fall semester.