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"Fraternity Rush change positive, negative"

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Brian Kimball | The Daily Wildcat Ashlee Salamon / Arizona Daily Wildcat Jeremy Laufer, Nutritional Sciences Junior talks with rushee Mike Brucia Undecided Freshman. Thursday Sept. 3rd at the Phi Kappa Phi house interested students meet active members.

Before spring 2009, potential fraternity men were given a map of fraternity chapters and left on their own to find a match.


This year the Interfraternity Council added a formal night, the first night of Rush, so that the 945 men signed up would be broken up into more manageable groups and introduced to a wider variety of chapters.  Though the men were introduced to more chapters, the numbers of returning men for the informal events has remained unchanged for many fraternities.


""We found that most rushees were gravitating to some chapters without even knowing what other options were available,"" said Zach Nicolazzo, coordinator for Fraternity & Sorority Programs. ""Hence, the process was set in place to make things a bit more equitable and to get rushees to see more of our fraternities on campus.""


The formal night has been met with mixed reactions this year though, according to some fraternities at the UA.


""When Rush was informal our recruitment strategy was very different,"" said Zach Schloss, president of Phi Kappa Tau one of the smaller chapters at the UA, which does not have a registered chapter house.


""We recruited men who really had no intention of being in a fraternity,"" he said of past Rushes. ""We wanted to get the guys who wanted to have a good time in school but realized that school came first in priorities.""


Now with 200 men attending their event during the formal night, Phi Kappa Tau finds themselves having to appeal to men who are looking for a larger fraternity with a house and a larger social agenda.


Even with the influx of potential rushees, Phi Kappa Tau isn't looking to expand their recruitment numbers to more than the 10 bids they usually offer.


""The IFC (interfraternity Council) promotes recruiting 365 days a year,"" Schloss said. ""It seems hypocritical, unfair and pointless to do formal Rush if you can give guys bids without going through formal Rush.""


Phi Delta Theta, a small chapter with a house on campus with 17 active members would prefer smaller groups during the formal night so they could have more face time with potential members.


""We had IFC Delegates walking groups around, we had 26 groups of men with about 30-50 guys in each group,"" Nicolazzo said. 


That number of men was overwhelming for the smaller chapters who weren't used to that many attendees, said Jeff Kiser, the president of Phi Delta Theta.


""At one point we had 60 guys show up at our house and with 17 actives it was a little difficult to handle,"" Kiser said. ""Another frustrating thing about that night was having to give a house tour, because there wasn't enough time to meet people or for them to get to know us.""


Large fraternities agreed that the formal night was detrimental to their Rush process.


""The groups were the right size, but there were two or three groups here at once one time,"" Chris Tommarello, president of Pi Kappa Phi a fraternity of roughly 150 active members with a house off campus. ""Then, there's 120 people and it's hard to meet everyone.""


The first night was beneficial to some houses though.


""Because we are a newer fraternity being recalled on campus it gave us some exposure to people who may not have known us,"" said Chance Burns, recruitment chair for Pi Kappa Alpha. ""The open house definitely helped us.""


Schloss agreed that meeting more than 200 men the first night could be beneficial to other small chapters because they don't usually see those kind of numbers, but didn't feel it was beneficial for Phi Kappa Tau because they weren't looking to expand.


For the future, Kiser recommended that the groups be broken up into smaller numbers so active members can get a chance to really get to know the rushees.


Despite the formal night, men are not required to go to every chapter, as that would take too long, Nicolazzo said.


""Perhaps at some point (all rushees will visit all houses),"" Nicolazzo said. ""But at this point, it's about getting the rushees to see some different options and then encouraging them to go to many open house events rather than just going to one or two.""


The Interfraternity Council was inspired by the formality of sorority Rush, Nicolazzo said, but decided to incorporate only one day, as opposed to a whole week.


""The allowing of Rushees to go where they want is specific to fraternity rush,"" Nicolazzo said.


Smaller chapters host events that allow for more group activities and see how members work with the chapter as a whole.


""I think we chose events that are easy to be social but fun to participate in,"" Kiser said. ""Rock climbing for example, you get to see the guys working together and hookah is really low key and easy to be social.""


""We played kickball and basketball because we get to know the guys and their names and see if they will work with our guys,"" Schloss said. ""Its a subtle way to see if they will work well with others without forcing them to work with others.""


Chapters who have large numbers host different events so they can accommodate more people.


""Tonight we rented out the Arcade-Game Room so that our 109 current members can meet the 130 rushees,"" Burns said.


Rushees may also attend two preferences night dinners this year, unlike last year where they could only attend one.


""Having two pref nights is not going to help,"" Tommarello said. ""Pref is when you really connect with people and you start to see the guys around you as your pledge class. If you have two, then you aren't seeing that connection yet.""


Having two fraternities pref them, gives the rushees more options and they can make a better decision, according to Schloss.


For someone going through Rush it can be a great system because they do see a lot of fraternities they might not other wise, but there may be more cons than pros, Schloss said.

""Nothing jumps out at me as something I like about the change,"" Tommarello said.


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