USC’s fraternity recruitment orientation saw a packed house two nights in a row this week, marking a significant increase in interest in rush.
Fraternity Council announced in June that registration numbers were up about 54 percent over Fall 2011, which may owe to new regulations and changes to the system.
One of those changes is a new assistant director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, Jarod Holt, who is responsible for advising Fraternity Council and overseeing the rush process.
Holt filled a position in November left vacant by Keith Ellis, whose departure came a year after six fraternities were cited for alcohol violations and fraternity rush ended early.
This fall marks Holt’s first full rush at USC, which will last from Sept. 2 to Sept. 8, and he said he hopes to give the process more grounding in values and to make it more worthwhile. Retooling rush came down to a few key questions, he said.
“What would give the men the best experience? How can we help them find homes? What makes a positive experience?” Holt said. “Now recruitment will be more understandable and relational, with facilitated introductions to each chapter.”
Holt said he doesn’t expect a repeat of the booze-soaked rush that was halted two years ago, citing Fraternity Council’s student-led training sessions with each chapter’s leaders.
Potential new members are now required to attend a session on leadership or the Academic Centers for Excellence during rush, and fraternities are barred from serving them alcohol. Would-be members also have to go to at least one community service event before Sept. 7.
Blake Cordell, Fraternity Council’s vice president of Recruitment, said he thinks the new requirements help prospective members to learn what fraternities value and benefit the community.
“We have 800 men performing three hours of community service each,” Cordell said. “When you put that together, that’s 2,400 hours completed in just a few weeks.”
Cordell said that rush would be focused on scholarship, leadership, friendship and service.
“We wanted to guide the [potential new members] on what to expect, so we structured recruitment around our principles to make a safe environment for them to be introduced to each chapter,” Cordell said. “The bait you use is the fish you catch.”
Holt said he was working with Fraternity Council to chart fraternities’ future growth on campus.
“There’s more interest than ever,” Holt said, “so we need to accommodate that.”