Rush season has come and gone, and new pledges are deep into bonding activities. The rush process seemed pretty typical: for one hectic week rushees made lots of small talk (and of course meaningful connections), shook lots of hands, and ate lots of free food. However, the end of rush yielded some interesting results: fraternities found that there was a significant dip in rush numbers, whereas sororities saw an increase.
However, while rush numbers–the number of rushees registered to rush with each Greek organization–have changed, retention rates were high, according to Greek Council President Manjul Sharma ’16:
When we talked about the men, the number of people who actually signed up to rush–which basically means no commitment, it just means checking out Greek life…The numbers were low, but from that number the retention rate was high … considering from totally a recruitment point of view we are just as successful as in the past.
Ultimately, fraternities and sororities had high capitulation numbers for people who expressed interest–a preemptive step to possibly receiving a bid–thus negating lower rush numbers.
Sharma also pointed out that the retention rate post-bid period is far more important than the initial rush period, which is not totally accurate anyway.
The number of people signed up to rush [fraternities] was only slightly lower than in the past but … if someone shows up and has not registered, we still let them come to our event and eventually ask them to, like, sign up, so [rush] numbers really do not mean much.
Lower rush numbers with high retention rates might suggest that fraternities were less selective, and perhaps handed out more bids that usual. Sharma countered that the exclusiveness of a fraternity is ultimately irrelevant. He gave the example that perhaps one society rushes only five people, and accepts all five, yielding a 100% retention rate; perhaps another society rushes 100 people and also accepts five, boasting exclusivity.
The Archons Society, for example, has almost a 100% retention rate. According to co-President Abi Cooper ’16, Archons rushed 36 people, which is their average rush number, and is pledging 33 people. The only shift Archons saw was an increase in male rushees, which is usually about 1/10 the number of females in the group. Epsilon Delta Mu (EDM) President Elizabeth Trout ’15 said EDM’s have a sizable pledge class of 10 people this year–twice as many as they had last year. Trout, similarly to Sharma, did not think the trend in rush indicated future changes.
I think some classes there’s just more interest in Greek life. Each class is different that comes into Kenyon. It doesn’t mean that Greek life is gonna go downhill.
Emily Smul ’16, president of Theta Delta Phi said 70 women signed up to rush initially, but dwindled to between 30 and 45 women by the end of the process. Still, these numbers were slightly higher than last year’s.
Fraternities, on the other hand, saw a noticeable dip. Beta Theta Phi (Beta) President John O’Brien ’17 reported that 23 students rushed Beta this year, down from last year’s 31. Additionally, Beta offered 21 bids this year as opposed to last year’s 27. Sean Smith ’16, president of Phi Kappa Sigma (Phi Kapp) said he saw similar numbers for both years. Likewise, an anonymous member of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) said the organization saw similar rush numbers, about 20, for both years. Both fraternities have fewer pledges, with the Phi Kapps pledging five (as opposed to last year’s seven) and the DKE’s four (down from 10). Tim Barry ’16 of Delta Tau Delta (Delt) said that fewer men rushed Delt this year. They rushed about 20 men–down from 25 to 30 men last year–but they accepted 10 people both years.
Advertising for Greek life is one possible cause for the drop in numbers. Each Greek member described sending emails and putting up fliers as the main mode of getting word out, particularly during Rush Week. O’Brien said that the Betas might try to advertise a bit more next year to take pressure off active members who use word of mouth, but Barry said he “wouldn’t change a thing” for the Delts.
None of the fraternity members we contacted believed the change in rush numbers would significantly impact the future of Greek life at Kenyon.
Sharma concluded that these numbers do not matter when compared to the values and quality of Greek societies.
I think organizations should only try to achieve to make their organization and their activities more approachable to students so they can, like, come, enjoy, have a good time, try to get to know each other and whether or not they decide to join, I hope as a byproduct, they make good friends.
India Amos ’17 contributed reporting for this article.