Guest Post by Wesley Cannon
It is human nature to want to a part of something larger than yourself. We reach for something greater with the expectation of fulfilling an unknown want. We crave interaction with others and we connect with those of similar beliefs. Greek Life, and the interactions of fraternities and sororities on college campuses, offer that opportunity to find men and women of character whose commitment to the upward march of humanity is found in their daily lives. Fraternity rush, or recruitment, is the first step to entering this social experience. Men seeking the benefits of the fraternal world should peruse the advice in this guide in hopes of receiving a bid to the next chapter of their lives.
Know the Chapter and Yourself
Review your university’s list of fraternity chapters. A simple Google search will provide the quick facts of each national fraternity. Their websites outline objective characteristics about the fraternity, their guiding principles and a historical sketch. Note, every chapter is different at every university. Some chapters are reminiscent of John Belushi’s Animal House where others are more the style of Revenge of the Nerds. Keep an open mind about each Chapter. Don’t rely on the stereotypes you hear from friends and classmates. Much like choosing your university, rush is more about finding a match rather than who has the coolest giveaways.
Identify some truths within yourself before you go out for Rush. This is a serious commitment you are about to embark on and should be treated as such. Be honest with yourself and identify what it is you are looking for from this experience and the types of people you think you want your college years to be spent with. The truth of the matter is that most young men going out for Rush don’t get bids and even fewer become brothers. For example, out of 50 pledges perhaps only 30 will be initiated either from de-pledging or blackballing. Make sure that this is the right commitment with the right organization for you.
Your introduction is an important one. Many potential new members (PNMs) are lost to the masses and are faint memories in a later voting session. Your presentation is crucial in the short time you have with the brothers.
Be confident in your presentation. Have a strong handshake and speak clearly when introducing yourself. Maintain eye contact during conversation, but don’t stare them down. Use the brothers’ names in the first moments of the conversation, it will help you remember them and impress those present.
Lastly, be active and involved in the conversation. Don’t rely on others to keep the conversation moving forward. Ask the brothers questions. They know the recruitment game and how it works, so, catch them off guard. People love to talk about themselves, know that you can ask them about their life too.
Alec Bladwin’s rule of a tuxedo after 5:00pm is not necessary here. Brothers are not looking for the most exquisitely dressed young man, nor are they looking for one who just rolled out of bed at four o’clock that afternoon. The staples of men’s style are always appropriate. A golf shirt (polo) or button-down, shorts or khaki pants, and loafers/boat shoes will impress anyone. If cargo shorts rest on your waist during rush week, I can predict a certain future: black ball. Dress for the bid you want, not the freshman that you are.
Keep in mind, much of the style will depend on the university culture or IFC’s dress code. The dress code for College of Charleston, I would imagine, is quite different from Northeastern. Identify the culture of your university and highlight it.
Asking the brothers about their chapter is the best way to identify if they live up to the expectations set by their founders. Do they live their values? Do they even know what their values are? If that knowledge faded away with their last pledge exam… your experience in that chapter will be less than fulfilling. At that point, it might as well be a drinking club whose members lack manners and civility where they abound in venereal diseases and beer guts.
Be an inquisitive PNM. If you find trophies or awards on the walls and mantles, ask about them. What is the history of the Chapter or what philanthropy events have been held in the past? You might already know the answers from your research but your questions show interest in their Chapter.
Handle Your Liquor
As first year students in college, you are enjoying the time out from under mother’s watchful eye and out of reach of father’s backhand. However, know that respectful moderation of alcohol will find you much higher in the good graces of the fraternity whose bid you seek.
You are young and will find your limit in good time so, err on the side of caution. A young freshman whose introduction to a brother is slurred and reeks of the cheap beer he just chugged is easily forgotten in a voting meeting (with the exception of jokes made at his expense). Moderation will keep you ready for the next day’s pick-up football game on the quad or a last minute lunch with brothers.
Know this, the decision to pledge a fraternity, and the brothers decision to initiate you, will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. These gentlemen will become your best friends and will support you during life’s hard times and celebrate during the joyous ones. Listen carefully when your chapter’s secrets are shared with you. When the cauls of secrecy are finally lifted, your understanding of this world becomes clearer and your purpose defined. Enjoy rush! Dine on the free food, drink the libations, and be yourself. Remember, fraternities are where boys become men and men become gentlemen. Good luck, and always press on.
Wesley Cannon is a chapter founder of a well-known national fraternity at the College of Charleston.
**To get a jump on the competition, check out SP’s Pledge Rites: Code of Gentlemanly Behavior for Fraternity Pledges.