Fresno State delays Greek recruitment until late September
As a result of review, member recruitment, commonly known as “Rush Week,” has been delayed to the end of September rather than occurring during the first few weeks of the semester for all Fresno State Greek organizations.
Fresno State administrators, staff and students reviewed the campus’ Greek system last spring in response to the alcohol-caused death of 18-year-old Philip Dhanens, a new member to Theta Chi at the time.
“When we had the tragic death of Philip Dhanens at the beginning of last year as the result of a hazing incident of a fraternity, we felt this was the time to bring that review committee together to take a look at what we could do better to serve this campus, as well as the students who are part of the Greek community,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Paul Oliaro.
Delaying member recruitment week gives students, especially freshmen, a chance to make an academic transition into college, Oliaro said.
He said many students who joined a Greek organization at the beginning of the semester had a lower GPA and more difficulty adjusting to college life.
Oliaro and the review committee made the recommendation because they believed first-time students needed a longer time to make the decision to take on a big commitment such as a fraternity or sorority, he said.
“To me, it was not healthy or helpful to have students be asked to make a life-long decision to join a fraternity or sorority, and to pick a particular fraternity or sorority, before they had even taken a test or really had to take a class or write a term paper – before they really understood the academic demands of the courses they were taking,” Oliaro said.
The idea is to have academic success in classes come first, and everything else be second, Oliaro said.
For fraternities on campus, member recruitment begins Sept. 23 and for sororities it begins on Sept. 27.
Every college’s recruitment week for Greek organizations differs, and each fraternity and sorority chooses how long their pledge period lasts.
Levy Randolph, the president of Fresno State’s chapter of Kappa Sigma, said the delay makes Fresno State’s recruitment period for his fraternity the latest of neighboring chapters. California State University, Bakersfield and California State University, Stanislaus chapters of Kappa Sigma hold their member recruitment weeks at the beginning of their semesters.
Victor Green, Interfraternity Council (IFC) executive board recruitment officer, said the IFC stood behind the decision. He said the change is good and gives returning Greek members ample time to plan.
“Chapters can be more organized,” Green said. “It’s summertime, and once everyone gets back, we’ll have a couple meetings, talk with each other and get a good recruitment plan.”
Randolph said Kappa Sigma would take advantage of the delay to spend time as brothers and understand what the fraternity is about.
“It allows us to develop good study habits before beginning a life-long decision of entering a brotherhood,” Randolph said.
Green said because of the delay, “Greek Week,” which begins Sept. 10, will be before member recruitment week. He said this is a chance for potential members to learn more about Greek organizations, what it means to be in a Greek organization and to learn about each particular fraternity.
Neither Oliaro nor Green could predict how the delay will affect recruitment numbers, but the Panhellenic Association president, Jacqueline Balletto, said the decision would be beneficial.
Balletto joined her sorority during her second year at Fresno State because she didn’t feel acclimated to college during the recruitment period in her first year.
Before the member recruitment week this semester for sororities, there are three informational workshops potential new members can attend that focus on leadership, service and values, Balletto said.
Balletto said sororities at Fresno State are revamping their new member education program in response to Dhanens’ death. She said the presidents of the sororities met with the health center and Associated Students Inc. to create awareness of alcohol overdose and other alcohol-related issues. This falls in line with the Wellness Center’s “Protect Your Dogs” campaign.
Balletto said alcohol is not allowed in the sorority houses whatsoever.
Oliaro praised the Greek community for the way it responded to Dhanens’ death and said the incident gave Fresno State’s fraternities and sororities a bad reputation.
“If there’s ever any negative incidents, like the one that occurred at the beginning of [last year], people paint the fraternity-sorority system with a broad negative brush,” he said.
Oliaro said the review board addressed other subjects in the Greek community, and that for the most part the Greek system had a very successful year. Among the items listed for improvement were risk management, online information and documenting community service hours.
“The whole year was really a very positive one from that point on for fraternities and sororities,” Oliaro said. “It was one of our best years in terms of good citizenship, few problems or incidents and good community service and fundraising contributions as a result of the collective efforts of all fraternities and sororities.”