As you may have noticed, William Jewell College is an outlier when it comes to Greek rush and recruitment. At most colleges recruitment begins the first week of the fall semester, right as the first-years enter their college careers. This is different at Jewell, as it waits until the beginning of the spring semester to start this process. Both options have valuable benefits, and in most cases, I’m an advocate for changing the norm, but I wonder if in this case, it might just be easier to go with the status quo.
First, why should recruitment be held in spring? Well, I feel the main reason is that this gives opportunities for new students to make friends without boundaries. When students come into this new environment and are immediately thrust into recruitment, it may be hard to stray from their respective sorority or fraternity circles afterward. Having their first semester free to make any connections they want can be a great way to broaden horizons and make connections that may have been lost to recruitment.
Spring rush also gives first-years time to adjust to the newness of college before having to adjust to Greek life. Stepping into college can be a scary time for a lot of people, and adding recruitment on top of that may just be too much for some. Looking at the other side of the process, waiting until spring can help the sororities and fraternities looking for new members as well. Recruitment is a lot of work for these organizations, and being able to wait until after they’ve settled in the new year as well can help keep the process stress-free for both sides.
This may sound like a solid argument to rush in spring, but I think there are honestly more reasons fall is the better option, especially at William Jewell. Since our college community is such a small environment, I feel that no matter what you’re involved in it is easy to meet and make friends with anyone and everyone on campus. Unlike other schools, there is less of a divide and competition between each Greek organization and between Greek members and independent students.
I was independent in my first two years of school and had friends in every Greek organization and never felt pushed away or excluded by them on campus. While this is my own personal experience and may not be reflected by everyone, I do find that most people on this campus are involved in many different circles and groups. This is to say that while it may seem like starting college life in a sorority or fraternity would create a boundary between students, on this small of campus it is very unlikely.
Also, Greek life is just like any other group of likeminded people on campus, so why is it treated differently? When you enter college, there are immediately opportunities to join clubs and activities that interest you. We tend to naturally congregate with people who have similar interests to us. People in the same major, sport and interests become close faster than people who don’t have as much in common. So it makes sense that people who hold the same values that are amplified in Greek life would be the same. Starting College with recruitment would just connect those people faster because they will find each other anyway. It would also help with scheduling and time management for new students. As it is, first-years who finally find a rhythm between class, work, sports and clubs by the end of the fall semester have to rearrange everything if they want to participate in Greek life, which wouldn’t be a problem with fall recruitment.
Another factor is the connections made before recruitment getting in the way of truly finding a home within a Greek organization. Going through recruitment, students should be making decisions based on their own personal feelings and figuring out which organization’s values and philanthropies really mean the most to them. This can get clouded with the friendships made during the first semester.
I have seen and heard time and time again of situations where potential new members feel obligated to choose one sorority or fraternity because it’s where their friends or teammates are, even if it isn’t where they feel at home. Relationships can cloud our judgment of what is truly best for ourselves, and since going Greek is a lifelong commitment, it is important that students focus on what is the best choice for their own life.
I have also seen these relationships formed during the first semester fizzle out after recruitment. Greek obligations take up more schedule space, and friends feel forgotten after getting used to spending so much time together. If the year started with recruitment then that shock of losing your hang out time to chapter meetings and philanthropic work would be avoided.
Overall, there are pros and cons to rushing the fall or spring semester, which is why a lot of schools do both. I understand at a small school like Jewell that it isn’t really necessary, but it could be helpful to students to have either as an option. For some, fall recruitment can be too much and they need more time to adjust in the short-term, but for others, it could be a lot easier to just start school in the Greek home of their choosing and avoid all the long-term conflict. For now, I would advise new students coming to Jewell who are interested in recruitment to keep in mind that those first semester schedules and relationships may change after recruitment in the spring, and to be prepared for that.