The Daily Gamecock

Fraternity Council updates recruitment policies

Fraternities hope to create a new image based off service and leadership

While USC's fraternity rush suspension may have made the national news just one year ago, Fraternity Council members believe the alcohol and drug scandal acted as a much-needed wake-up call.

 "Drinking and partying was a part of our community for years, but it wasn't who we were and it's not the image we want to portray," said Jordan Cox, Fraternity Council president. "All the drinking wasn't new and the bad publicity has given us the opportunity to confront our problems. We're changing."

Cox and Fraternity Council Vice President of Recruitment Zack King are striving to change USC's fraternity image from out-of-control partiers to educated, responsible young men who do great things for the community.

"We now require service events for all the guys going through recruitment," King said. "We increased the GPA requirement from 2.5 to 2.75 and we've done a lot of programming these first two weeks that are more value- and community-based."

Fraternity Council has also clarified rules and policies that have been in place for years. This year's recruitment is to remain completely alcohol-free, according to King, and the punishments for any members caught in violation will affect their whole chapters.

"Our recruitment policy states pretty clearly that at any recruitment event — any event where there are potential new members present — there should be no alcohol or drugs," King said. "This means that the men shouldn't be drinking and the men coming to your recruitment shouldn't be drinking."

The policy applies whether or not the group is on or off campus, and any member caught — whether he's 18 years old or 22 — using alcohol as a recruitment incentive will find their chapter in front of the conduct board within 24 hours. If even one member is found guilty, the chapter will be fined $2,500 for a first-time offense and lose the right to pledge new members that semester.

"There's no reason that our chapters should be using alcohol to recruit new men," Cox said. "We've had a lot of conversations about it since last year and we've also come to a consensus with our chapter and fraternity leadership in conjunction with the university."

Greek leadership wants to start breaking down the stereotypes surrounding fraternities this year, and are using formal recruitment beginning Sept. 3 to teach young men the importance of brotherhood, leadership and service, King explained. Since move-in day on Aug. 18, 70 men have dedicated over 180 hours of volunteer work through recruitment.

While the new changes and requirements may seem like an official move the university would make, that's not actually the case. While university officials have been supportive, council members said, all of the changes have been completely student-led.

The bad press of 2011 didn't dissuade freshmen and sophomores from rushing, though, as both sorority and fraternity recruitment numbers increased. The number of young women participating went up from 1350 last year to 1375, while the number of men registered for formal fraternity recruitment has passed the 700 mark.

Katie Spell, assistant director of fraternity and sorority life, expects some sororities to surpass 300 members this year and hopes that the addition of Alpha Gamma Delta and new sororities in the future will help reduce the strain on big chapters.

Jerry Brewer, vice president of student affairs, encouraged students to continue to rush despite the bad rep fraternities were given last year, and has high expectations for Greek Life.

"I encourage all non-affiliated University of South Carolina men to consider participating in fraternity recruitment," Brewer said. "Our fraternities truly enhance an individual's college experience and provide a lifetime of brotherhood."