Anna Onderdonk, Staff Writer
The first week back at Oneonta was an exciting time for everyone, but it was particularly important for Greek life. Fraternities and sororities on campus used this week to grab the attention of potential pledges. Since the first day of classes, Wednesday August 24, the Greeks have been wearing their letters with pride. Events such as “Meet the Greeks” and the Club Fair have given the fraternities and sororities a chance to get their names out to the student body and seek out interested recruits. While those two events were only open to officially recognized fraternities and sororities, many unrecognized Greek organizations also thrive in Oneonta. Both recognized and unrecognized groups agree that Rush Week is all about advertising themselves and meeting new people.
Tyler Grable, the head Rush Chair for a newly recognized Oneonta frat called Alpha Phi Delta (AΦΔ), said that becoming recognized is a challenging process that requires “gaining national recognition and a bunch of Community Service.” As the head Rush Chair, Grable has been partially responsible for putting on social events for his fraternity and their potential pledges. The Alpha Phi Delta members and their pledges have met up throughout the week for barbeques, Can Jam, softball and parties. The fraternity has also been obliged to participate in the official Inter Greek Council (IGC) events, which bring all the recognized sororities and fraternities together to socialize in the first week. Rush Week is just the beginning of Greek life for these guys and pledging will closely follow. As far as pledging goes, Grable confirmed a zero hazing policy for recognized fraternities, referring to the fact that he himself was never hazed. When asked if potentials pick the frat or if the frat picks the potentials, Grable stated that “interested people come and give their info…but a lot of it is about who you know and where you are–on or off campus.” Grable became a part of Alpha Phi Delta last year through friends. The fraternity has about six potentials as of the close of this week, most of them sophomores. When asked “Why have rush week?” Grable’s first response was “Well, it’s a heck of a lot of fun.”
Unrecognized fraternities go about Rush Week in a similar way, even though they are not allowed to participate in on-campus promotional events, nor are they invited to official IGC mixers. Frank Howard, president of Iota Tau Kappa (ITK), and member Jack Acquino, a junior, have a lot of pride in their fraternity despite its being unrecognized. They say it is the oldest Oneonta fraternity, dating back to 1967. ITK had previously been recognized and is rich with history; they were one of the fraternities that refused to give up the names of their black members in the 1993 “black list incident.” The fraternity walked off campus afterward in protest. Frank Howard said “we stay unrecognized to stay under the radar. We support ourselves.” They are unaffiliated with any national branch and therefore have no chapter responsibilities and are focused on local involvement. Iota Tau Kappa participates in community service, doing toy drives and school scholarships to honor some of their fallen brothers that served in Vietnam.
Rush Week for Iota Tau Kappa means a lot of social gatherings and parties. Acquino and Howard say that their fraternity picks out their potentials and tells the most promising contributors to come back and pledge. Rush Week is the busiest week for them and this year the frat has seven to ten potentials that they will offer bids. However, the number of potentials and pledges varies greatly from semester to semester. Acquino pledged by himself when he was new. Rush Week and the process of pledging for ITK is a somewhat less structured process than for a recognized fraternity and Howard says this “gives them more freedom to pick their potentials.” Being unrecognized also gives ITK more leeway for Rush activities. However, at the end of the day, rushing ITK seems rather similar to rushing Alpha Phi Delta.
“Rush Week is to try to find girls right away to pledge for our sorority… and we do it right away the first week because freshmen and transfers come in looking to join something new” says a member of an unrecognized sorority who chose to remain anonymous. Potentials, says the source, are found through Facebook networking during the summer as well as during open parties once classes begin. Potluck dinners and barbecues also help the sorority meet their possible future sisters. The Rush Chair of the sorority finds girls to pledge and during parties and gatherings makes sure they are having fun and feeling included. Rush Week for fraternities and sororities is similar and in fact many have mixers together. This unrecognized sorority, like most, has a brother frat to co-host certain events. At the end of Rush Week, the girls that came out to rush receive a bid, which is basically an invitation to pledge the sorority. Those that accept the bid usually come to a celebration before official pledging begins. This sorority might offer anywhere from 10 to 20 bids yet have no idea how many girls will actually show up to join at the end of the week. The sorority sister interviewed also said, “I’m not really supposed to talk about Greek life.” So, what’s the first rule of unrecognized Greek life? Don’t talk about unrecognized Greek life.
Truly though, Rush Week is supposed to show potentials that joining a sorority or fraternity brings with it a sense of belonging and solidarity. Rush Week promotes fun and new friendships. It offers a chance to become part of something, and whether or not the pressure to join is great or small, new connections are made. And that is what Rush Week is all about: connecting with people and finding new opportunities.