Recruitment Rules, They Rule! (What do you think?)

by Matt Mattson (Content within by Blake Bradley, Illinois Wesleyan University)

annoyed-woman-wagging-fingerToward the end of this post, you’ll find the contents of a Facebook Note written by our friend, Blake Bradley.  He writes about recruitment rules regarding Facebook usage, and his opinion on them.  Reading this got me thinking about recruitment rules implemented by fraternity and sorority councils on campuses all around the country.

I remember an experience I had this summer when I visited a northwest university with a sizeable fraternity/sorority community.  I happened to be there for the two days before formal sorority recruitment started.  As I was walking around the Greek side of campus, I noticed sorority women in two separate houses behaving strangely.

At one house, they were all standing outside their house, facing the street, chanting, singing, and screaming to… nobody.  At the other house they were walking out of their front door, in single file lines, with their hands behind their back (and perfect posture), to line up along their front walk to apparently welcome… nobody.  Weird, I thought.

So, I asked the second group what they were doing.  Their initial response was… nothing (they weren’t allowed to talk to boys that day).  After I apologized for breaching their sacred silence, and explained what I do for a living, they quickly, politely, and dismissively explained that they were practicing for formal recruitment week.  When I asked why they had their hands behind their back, they explained that they made their members keep their hands behind their back during recruitment because they weren’t allowed to touch potential new members.  Had their been some incident of inappropriate touching, I asked?  She didn’t answer, and walked away. Hmmm…

I did a fun experiment.  I Googled “fraternity recruitment rules,” and “sorority recruitment rules” to see what I would find. I didn’t actually open a single page, I just copied/pasted the most interesting excerpts that showed up on the Google search page.  I realize all of these are out of context and without explanation, but let me share them and then pose some questions for consideration.

Quotes I found when I Googled “fraternity recruitment rules.” [121,000+ Entries]

“Rules for Silence: 1) No PNM is aloud to go to a Fraternity house during Formal Recruitment. STRICT SILENCE”

“Theta Chi broke recruitment rules for a second time this semester by passing out fliers at the Welcome Back Picnic”

“And there is also the general expectation that no fraternity will use women as a recruitment tool”

“Each fraternity may host a maximum of two summer recruitment events”

“This rule stipulates that each IFC chapter can offer membership bids to a maximum of …”

“Recruitment: A series of parties given by fraternities or sororities by which new members … “

Quotes I found when I Googled, “sorority recruitment rules, contact.” [58,000+ Entries]

“Sorority women may not drive potential new members to recruitment parties or any other recruitment affiliated activities in personal vehicles due to …”

“Sororities who violate of the rules set forth for all slideshows shown throughout Formal Recruitment shall be subject to a fine of fifty dollars for the …”

“Please stick to normal friendly everyday contact but without talking about sororities and sorority recruitment.”

“Potential new members may not under any circumstances be present in any of the sorority houses, with the exception of recruitment parties”

“Rules governing silence during Formal recruitment. 1. SILENCE is defined as being no conversation or contact between potential members and sorority members …”

“No sorority member may buy anything for or contact a Potential New Member”

“Strict and absolute silence (no conversation or contact) will be observed by all”

“No fraternity member may buy anything for a potential member (meal, soft drink, etc.). “

Recruitment rules are interesting to me.  I am always curious 1) Where did those rules come from? 2) Do those rules help attract a higher quantity of higher quality members?  3) Who has the power to change those rules?  4) Are college students intelligent enough to operate during recruitment successfully/honorably without strict, detailed rules?  5) What would happen if you didn’t have those rules?  Are you sure?  6) How do you feel knowing that these rules are meant to limit your behavior?  Are you insulted at all? 7) Are rules empowering? Shouldn’t our fraternity/sorority communities be empowering?  8 ) Do the other HUNDREDS of organizations on your campus have similar rules about recruiting members, or is it just Greeks?  Why?  9) Which is more important, fairness or high performance?  Which of those two things do your rules promote?  10) Do your rules meet the tests of the NIC/NPC/NPHC/NALFO, etc., the U.S. Constitution, and/or common sense?

Check out Blake’s thoughts below about Facebook and recruitment rules… What do you think?

OMG, my life is over! You banned my Facebook.

by Blake Bradley

It seems like every year, the topic of having a presence on social media networking sites such as Facebook during membership recruitment periods come to the forefront. Everyone seems to have an opinion as to why a governing council such as IFC or Panhellenic should have some sort of policy over what types of interaction members have with new students. I think these types of rules are complete BS and completely counterproductive to any type of recruitment style regardless of the council.

Let’s face it, today’s college students…scratch that a vast MAJORITY of society today are so connected to social networking sites that many people actually form a small addition to them. When is the last time you went more than a few hours without checking your Facebook? If you still don’t think people today have a web-based social networking problem, and then explain why just about every new smart phone has a Facebook application standard? Add this with the movement of society to utilize more texting as opposed to actually calling people and hopefully you can see that there has been a shift in society to communicate with each other in means other than in person or speaking.

Furthermore, think about the last time you made a big decision as a consumer. Chances are you utilized the internet to research the potential products, see what the options were, looked at a few pictures, read some customer comments, etc. Just like you, today’s college students typically utilize the internet to help them make important decisions. Chances are they decided to attend (or at least visit) your college or university in some part through visiting the website. Many admissions offices establish a strong presence on social networking sites as well as make them available through instant messengers and such. Utilizing the information out there on the web lets people get the facts they need to support their decisions.

Fraternities and so rorities need to start realizing that this trend to handle more and more interpersonal communication via things such as Facebook isn’t going away anytime soon. If we want to really maximize our recruitment potential we should instead be embracing these sites as “new recruitment” and utilizing them as great initial contacts with prospective members. Don’t get me wrong; I am not suggesting that we completely replace “old recruitment” with some web-based app for our iPhones. What I am suggesting is that people stop trying to create limitations on how someone interacts with others and embrace today’s technologies to make recruitment better.

Imagine how easy it would be to create a names list from your Facebook friend’s list. Tip: Just list all of the non-affiliate students on your list. Trust me; you will probably have more than you think. Then imagine how easy it would be to pre-qualify those individuals on your names list based on your chapter’s established Membership Selection Criteria. Tip: Look at their profiles to determine if they would be someone you want to represent your values-based organization. If you think a profile looks questionable, mark them as more follow up needed. If the profile seems like quality, move them to the top of your in person follow-up list. Don’t just stop there. Use the communication options to outreach to them. Sure it might seem a little stalker-ish, but really which seems more realistic: Sending someone a message about something you may have in common after having looked at their profile or being able to recite their whole history after memorizing it from a recruitment application. The answer is the first one. Most people investigate new people via Facebook profiles. Not many people memorize facts about someone they have met one or two times. I could go on and on but frankly the benefits of how utilizing social networking sites can assist in meeting new people are far more than any negatives. I mean seriously, doesn’t the title “social networking site” imply that these are a place to communicate with people as a way to be more social?

One final comment that is related that really irritates me. As citizens of the US, we have this right to freely associate with others and freedom of speech. Why is it that some fraternity and sorority members feel it is ok to try to take these rights away from each other? If we really want to find great quality members for our organizations, shouldn’t we encourage our members to utilize these rights as opposed to trying to control the who, what, when, where, why and how we meet new people. I am pretty sure that normal people don’t sit around and wait for people to tell them when they can make new friends. Fraternities and sororities go wrong when they start making policies regarding interactions with people that impede on the rights that their members have as individuals. The problem is not being able to communicate; the problem is not working with each other to establish a greater community that respects each other enough to not utilize this communication as an opportunity to disrespect others.