Inboxes overflow with event announcements, students show off their Greek letters at every turn, and multiple grills are taken over by sororities and fraternities: rush week has begun again at Ursinus College.
This year’s rush week is different than typical rush weeks at Ursinus. In the past rush would last one week, beginning on Sunday evening with an ice cream social for all Greek life and ending on Friday with the beginning of New Member Education. This year rush week has been extended, stretching from Wednesday, Sept. 6, all the way to Friday, Sept. 15, allowing Greek organizations more time to hold rush events.
Samantha Caringi, President of Sororities and member of Tau Sigma Gamma, said, “There were a couple organizations that were pushing to make rush two weeks in Inter-Greek Council (IGC) last year, so we voted on it in the IGC and we compromised on a week and a half.”
The IGC is comprised of students within Greek organizations who help regulate the various aspects of Greek life. The dynamics of IGC have changed this year due to missing positions.
“The difficult thing is that we are missing [Assistant Director of Student Activies], Angie Cuva. She retired last year and took [a] position at another institution . . . We’re also missing a President of Fraternities right now . . . So we’re missing . . . [some] guidance,” said Nate Fritzinger, vice president of IGC and member of the Alpha Delta Phi Society.
Despite some missing leadership, there was still a large turnout for the ice cream social held to kick off rush week: up to 140 people were in attendance. During the rest of rush week, those 140 people will be scattered around the campus’ 13 Greek organizations, attending events that will feature barbecuing, crafting, and meals with current Greek members.
Many of the Greek organizations noted positive and negative effects from the changes in rush week.
On the decision to extend rush week, Morgan Kentsbeer, an IGC delegate for Kappa Delta Kappa, said, “I feel like it’s an opportunity for people to actually figure out which organization they like. I know personally, I only rushed Kappa Delta Kappa, and that was a last-minute decision, but I know people were looking at Kappa Delta Kappa, Omega Chi, and Tau Sigma Gamma all at once and couldn’t go to all the events.”
Caringi said that “it gives potential new members more time to meet with the organizations before they make such an important decision.”
In past years, rush was normally a week or two later in the semester, giving organizations more time to plan their events after readjusting to campus life. This new schedule seems to be taking a toll on Mya Flood, president of Delta Pi Sigma.
Said Flood, “I’ve already worn myself out the first week because [I’m] part of a bunch of other things, so I already feel myself shutting down and rush didn’t even start yet . I find that kind of frustrating … I know that [Delta Pi Sigma] cut down our rush events, just for the sake of ourselves, like we’re stretching ourselves pretty thin.”
The timing of the rush schedule not only affects the planning process for the organizations, but also their relationship with the alumni, as rush now ends during Homecoming weekend.
“Homecoming is actually what affected everything: Homecoming being pushed up. It made us squeeze rush into the beginning of the year,” Fritzinger said.
Homecoming, which in past years has taken place towards the end of October, typically serves as the culmination of the New Member Education (NME) process for Greek life, when new members would be introduced to alumni members. Homecoming is now on Sept. 16—
before the NME process even begins.
This change in the Homecoming date is due to sports scheduling, according to Dean Pamela Panarella, executive director of Alumni and Parent Relations.
Said Panarella, “Our goal is to align homecoming [with] a time during the fall semester when there are football and women’s lacrosse home games,” she said.
Ending rush with homecoming has positive and negative ramifications for Greek organizations.
Henry Gustafson, member of Phi Kappa Sigma, said, “It’s really nice that we have Homecoming as the end of rush because we get to use it as a point of showing the potential new members: Here are all the guys who have been in the fraternity in the past and who are actually out in the real world, who you can meet if you become a part of the fraternity.”
Fritzinger also praised the change. “People will get to interact with alumni and people from those organizations that have previously graduated, and I think that’s going to be a different experience and something to really look forward to.”
Brandon Carey, the campus’ last remaining member of Pi Omega Delta, had a different perspective. Said Carey, “The dynamic of a Greek organization is this NME that ends with Homecoming where the new brothers and sisters, members of this organization, meet their alumni and [alumni] meet their line. By essentially flipping it so that we have rush week [ending] with Homecoming, that eliminates that important aspect of Greek life. That, I think, is a bad decision; [it] necessitates a cultural decision that I think is going to be really hard to work through.”
Whatever comes of this change in the schedule, Greek organizations can be assured that their voices will be heard by appropriate Ursinus staff.
Debbie Nolan, vice president of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said, “There was never an intent to create difficulty for Greeks. I sure hope we can make this year work well for Greeks and that we can meet with IGC to evaluate after this NME season so that we can inform future calendar decisions. I am very interested in working to make sure student groups are supported, and feel that the college calendar compliments their own rhythms.”