“Hey Ben, do you think you could write a post about fraternity rush/pledging similar to the way Jen and Jennifer did posts about sorority rush? Cool, thanks.” – John

John, no problem.

Ahem, hm, fraternity rush and pledging. Two very different, yet intriguing subjects and totally unlike sorority rush which Jen and Jennifer alluded to. To start with, as you might have gained from their posts, sorority rush is incredibly strict, regulated, confidential and to be utterly honest – boring. While fraternity rush is still well regulated, I think any sorority girl will tell you that fraternity rush is, well, “totally awesome.” (Sorry for the stereotype, cut me a break – it’s funny.)

Rush week starts the week before classes begin for the second semester. Rush is open to anyone, although it is predominately freshmen, transfer students, and a few sophomores who either decided against rushing the previous year or did not find the right fit.

Fraternity rush starts with “smokers.” A smoker is simply an open house. The smokers are split into North campus and West campus which is a general cross section that divides the ~40 fraternities. Smokers last around three hours so “rushies” have the opportunity to visit as many houses as they wish. A smoker is a time for brothers to interact with and meet rushies while enjoying food that each fraternity usually provides. Sometimes the conversations that take place can be a bit cookie cutter and forced but it is typically an efficient means of getting to know one another.

Each night the houses have events, which are typically themed parties; however I have seen fraternities take rushies: skiing, paintballing, to a casino, etc. The evening parties are just another way the brothers can get to know rushies in a more social setting.

If there is interest on both the part of the rushie and the house, the rushie is “contacted.” This is an official period when fraternity members can come to the rushies’ dorms and get to speak with them on either a casual or more serious basis. We typically do one casual contact where we just shoot the breeze and one serious contact where we ask things like, “What can you contribute to the brotherhood if given a bid?” You get the idea.

As the week drags on, the pool gets smaller and smaller and our meetings to discuss candidates get longer and longer. Our final meeting in which we decided on our bid extensions lasted from 9 pm to 7 am. It is a tiring week for brothers yet an exciting one – deciding on the future of your house is an interesting task. The parties are always entertaining, having no classes to attend is nice, and overall it is just a great experience. From the perspective of a rushie, it is also a fun week since fraternities are all doing their best to make each and every rushie like their house more than other houses.

Fraternity pledging usually starts within a few weeks of bids being given out. It lasts, at the longest, until a set date that Cornell mandates (about a month before classes end.) Cornell has strict anti-hazing policies, which are actually adhered to. Obviously there are exceptions, yet those houses are caught and punished nearly without fail. Pledging is a large time commitment and at many houses requires pledges to spend a good deal of time at their respective house doing things like learning about the history of their house. It is a similar time commitment to taking an additional class at Cornell and people considering the process should keep that in mind.

With all of that said, I had an incredible rush week and I think we are going to have a impressive group of pledges. I am looking forward to getting to know all of our new guys this semester more than I have ever looked forward to a semester in the past. It is sad to have to be moving on, but it is comforting to know that we did such a great job.