Last week, Gustavus Greek Life organizations gained dozens of new members as Rush Week came to a close. Greek organizations have a long history on campus. Rush Week is an annual event where potential new members are asked to pledge to a particular group.
“Rush Week is the week where students interested in joining either a fraternity or sorority go through the process of meeting the different chapters, learning more about the members, philanthropies, values of each organization, and deciding which organization to join,” Senior and director of Fraternity recruitment Christiana Nelson said.
“Similar to other people, I rushed because I wanted to find a place I belong on campus. I was extremely hesitant to rush at first but then I went to open house night. I saw how happy all the current members were and this made me positive I wanted to join,” Sophomore Laurell Reuvers said.
The recruitment process is meant to be as inviting as possible in order to attract as many new members as possible, even those who are reserved at first. Rush Week was the official start to recruitment season for the Greek chapters, but before participants could attend events this year, they were required to register online.
“There’s a registration process – one for fraternities and one for sororities. Those interested in Greek Life needed to register online by September 18th in order to be considered for a Greek chapter,” Greek Life Director Julianna Watterson said.
Online registration took place through the Gustavus Greek Life office. Those that registered were not required to attend Rush Week events. By registering, individuals were just stating their interest in Greek Life. Another reason for online registration is to make sure applicants met the requirements set by Greek Life.
“We ask applicants to register online so we can verify their grades and to make sure that there is no past record of misconduct on campus,” Watterson said.
Those interested in joining a Greek chapter must have at least a 2.5 grade point average and a clean record. The latter of these requirements has become an even more prominent issue since 2016 when four Greek chapters on campus were suspended.
“It was mostly hazing. The hazing we have seen in our recent history was psychologically based. The creation of a power dynamic within Greek chapters was concerning behavior. The new member period just started last Monday, and I haven’t gotten any hazing reports. It seems like the community is in a better place now than it was a few years ago,” Watterson said.
Gustavus Greek Life takes issues such as hazing very seriously. The four Greek chapters that were suspended were each given a minimum of one year forced inactivity. Hazing reports have historically come in during the time that follows Rush Week; the new member period. This stage began this last week when Greek chapters extended invitations or “bids” to applicants they wanted to join their organization.
“Once bids were extended, the new member period began. This was the period of time before the individuals that were extended bids become initiated members. During this time, active members of a chapter could learn more about the new members and new members could learn more about the chapter that they will be joining. Once the new member period is over, the initiated member becomes an active member,” Nelson said.
The Greek organizations are all about welcoming their new members into Greek life culture. At the core of Gustavus’ Greek chapters are the benefits they provide for their members and for the community around them. Every chapter has the goal of providing leadership, scholarship and service opportunities.
“I believe Greek life benefits its members by providing opportunities that would not ordinarily be possible. Greek life on the Gustavus campus represents a community where students support and care for one another and provide members with a positive experience that helps individuals grow and become more confident in themselves. I have benefitted from joining a sorority because I have developed leadership qualities that I will take with me into my professional career, and I have made life-long friends that I know will support and care for me long after my time at Gustavus,” Nelson said.
The goal of Greek Life is to serve its members by providing a sense of brother or sisterhood. On top of this, the members band together to benefit their community through philanthropy events. Many chapters have events they plan every year to raise awareness for issues they believe are important.
Rush Week was a busy time on campus for Greek organizations as always, but it was only the beginning. The chapters wasted no time initiating new members. Now the work begins for the Greek members as they push each other to reach their goals of leadership, scholarship and service.