Greek life has been an integral part of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute community since 1853. Their continued academic, philanthropic, and social contributions make the Greek community a vital component of campus. Many famous RPI alumni are Greek, including the 14th President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute George Low ’48, John Erik Jonsson ’22, Samuel Heffner ’56, and Palmer C. Ricketts, Class of 1875.
On Friday, August 29, Greek rush for the Fall 2014 semester officially began. Rush is a period of more than two weeks in which Greek organizations host events for students who are interested in joining a fraternity or sorority. Typical events include playing sports, barbecues, and gaming nights. During these events, both non-affiliated students and Greek organizations have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the other and decide whether they are compatible.
As organized societies of people associated together upon friendship and common beliefs, Greek organizations require new members every year to ensure their continued existence. Many rules and regulations are in place by the Institute and each of RPI’s Greek associations in order to keep rush both safe and fair for everyone involved. Violations of these rules and regulations may lead to some Greek organizations receiving an unfair advantage in the rush process and may create an unsafe environment for anyone who attends those organizations’ events.
This past week, The Polytechnic received information that during this semester’s rush season, there have been a number of fraternities who violated the rush guidelines, specifically Article IV, Section 1, Part 3 of the Interfraternity Council Recruitment Policy. The document clearly states, “Formal Recruitment is, at all times, dry. No alcohol, alcohol containers or controlled substances should be in use or be visible on the premises of any fraternity or in the living area of any fraternity during any time potential members are present.” The slang for the violation of this rule is known as “dirty rushing” or “wet rushing”.
A member of the sophomore class, who wishes to stay anonymous, told The Poly that he or she knowingly attended a fraternity party where alcohol was present. This information is in line with other reports to The Poly that some fraternities are hosting events in apartments where alcohol is present. Although some of the events in question did not take place at the fraternity house, those who hold them are in direct violation of the previously mentioned IFC Recruitment Policies, which state that at no time during the rush process may any Greek member make alcohol accessible to a potential member.
The Poly reached out to the organizations implicated by RPI students for statements. Some organizations denied these allegations, and some did not respond. A representative of one contacted house stated, “Any allegations [against this house] using ‘rush parties’ for recruitment are false.” The house in question is among those for which we received contradicting reports.
Additionally, The Poly contacted several non-implicated fraternities for their statements. A statement from a non-implicated fraternity provided the following perspective:
“A prospective recruit for a Greek organization should not be drawn to the organization due to the involvement of alcohol. No organization should be interested in initiating any person whose motive for joining is alcohol use. These people will bring harm to not only their own organizations, but also damage the Greek community as a whole. Recruits should instead be attracted to an organization for its brotherhood, philanthropy, network, or other socially redeeming qualities. This is conceptually why the IFC recruitment policy regarding alcohol during rush is in place.”
The Polytechnic contacted Associate Dean of the Greek Life Commons Matthew Hunt about the topic of Greek rush in order to receive more information regarding the allegations and about “wet rushing” in general. In response, the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council, the Alumni Inter-Greek Council, and Hunt, held an emergency meeting on Monday, September 8. As a result of this meeting, the heads of these organizations, Hunt, President of the Panhellenic Council Erica Hutchins ’15, Interfraternity Council President Tyler Gumina ’15, and President of the Alumni Inter-Greek Council Roger Grice released a joint statement to the Greek community, which can be found on The Poly’s website at http://poly.rpi.edu/91063. Within their statement, the group took a firm standpoint that rush regulations must be equally upheld by all Greek organizations.
“Recruitment is the lifeblood of our brotherhoods and sisterhoods, and the decision to join our families is one of the most important decisions a new member can make. Therefore, it is vitally important that we restore our recruitment culture to one where men and women interested in Greek life can attend our events, both formal and informal, without the presence of alcohol. The integrity of our community depends on this.”
Furthermore, in response to the allegations, Hunt has informed Dean of Students Mark Smith that the violations of the IFC Recruitment Policy have occurred. A student from within IFC stated that certain Greek organizations have been put on high alert as a result of the recent allegations made against them, and that administrative action has the potential to be taken against those same fraternities. When The Poly reached out to Gumina about the current situation, he met with the IFC Executive Board and together, they released the following statement: “The IFC does not condone any violations of the IFC Recruitment Bylaws and takes all suspected allegations seriously. All action by the IFC will be in accordance with Article VI of the IFC Recruitment Bylaws.” Article VI of the IFC Recruitment Bylaws addresses penalties for recruitment infractions, defining that “violation of any dry recruitment policy will carry a minimum of a minor infraction.”
The Poly also contacted Student Government officials, including Grand Marshal Kyle Keraga ’15 and President of the Union Erin Amarello ’15. Keraga stated, “Any such allegations are definitely concerning. I support the Interfraternity Council and Greek judicial process and decisions they make.” Additionally, Amarello noted, “I have full faith that the Interfraternity Council will handle matters appropriately; I will support any decision they make.”
The latest version of the IFC Recruitment Policy can be found here: http://poly.rpi.edu/19012. Additionally, The Poly will release further information on the current state if and when it becomes available.
Contributors to this article are: Chris Leong, Joseph Shen, Nathan Greene, Ethan Spitz, Andrew Sudano, Geoffrey Rosenthal, Joseph Saulsbery, Evan Barr, Kelsey McNeely, Elizabeth Anderson
A reporter must have permission for anonymity, from the supervising editor. Confidentiality is only given when there is danger of physical, emotional or financial harm to the source, if named.
Anonymous sources should not be used unless another named source with a degree of credibility can verify the information. If two independent, unnamed sources verify the information, the supervising editor will consider the need and value of the information before publishing it.
In case of anonymous and confidential sources, the reporter should make every attempt to verify the information by a willingly named source.