As it stands at St. John’s University, first semester freshmen can join any organization they see fit, including Greek organizations. Every organization has a level of commitment that is expected, but being in a fraternity or sorority comes with a level of commitment that supersedes involvement in other organizations. Just going through RUSH to be in a sorority is a two-week process and then three to six weeks of an education process followed by a lifetime of commitment to the sorority and the girls involved in your chapter.
Entering freshmen are essentially glorified high school seniors. They do not know that the trials and tribulations of college are not the same as those of high school. Freshmen generally want to find out about everything on campus and be involved with whatever they can. When trying to find friends on such a large campus, it only seems natural that both guys and girls would lean toward Greek life. It almost guarantees new friends, a community and a place to be.
Many colleges around the country have eliminated first semester freshmen involvement in the new member education process in order to give freshmen an opportunity to make an educated decision about being in a Greek organization. This is how it should be at St. John’s.
There would be many advantages to moving formal RUSH to the spring. It would give freshmen time to settle in and the organizations more time to organize and regroup. Right now, the RUSH process starts two weeks into the school year.
Freshmen have barely unpacked before they are being asked to decide whether or not they want to be in a Greek organization. It is a big commitment so early in the year.
There are some people who come to college knowing that Greek life is for them but those people should wait one semester to join precisely because they want Greek letters and fraternity more than anything else.
Waiting one semester will allow freshmen to form stronger bonds with their suitemates and classmates. It will give them time to adjust to the college workload and the freedom that comes with college life. It will give freshmen the opportunity to find a place in the wider community before they become a selected member of a Greek organization.
Second-semester freshmen will already know about the Greek life on campus, they will know their way around campus, and they will know how to manage their time properly.
The larger, new member education classes will be held in the spring and they will be full of people who have more of an idea of what they are getting into and if they can handle such a commitment. They will know if Greek Life is something they are really interested in. Changing the formal process to the spring will only make the Greek community stronger.