Author: Melina Devoney
Occidental’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) will no longer participate in formal recruitment week, according to Assistant Director of Student Life Diego Silva.
SAE President Briggs Hupper (junior) said that the chapter will remain part of Greek Council but is expanding to a year-round recruitment strategy this semester following a mandate announced March 2014 by the SAE national organization eliminating pledging for all chapters.
The national organization outlined that “a holistic education” called the True Gentleman Experience should replace the pledge process, which states that, in order to address the concern expressed by many chapters that the traditional process does not allow adequate time for chapters to genuinely get to know potential new members (PNMs), the traditional week-long time frame in which the recruitment and bidding was constrained should instead serve as the conclusion to a year-long process.
“The three day rush week really limits us because we’re forced to get to know people so well that we’re able to give them a bid in three days,” Hupper said. “We have to have events all year long so that, when rush week comes around, we can use that week to solidify any connections we might have made, and not necessarily use that to just start to get to know people.”
According to Hupper, SAE hosted events earlier this year such as weekly recruitment lunches, house tours and trips to a driving range and horse race.
Silva said that other SAE chapters have implemented this new recruitment model, and he predicts it will work at Occidental.
“I don’t think it will negatively impact any other Greek organization’s recruitment process,” Silva said.
The traditional new member process entails a three day window to initiate bidding followed by a six-week pledge period to evaluate the candidates. Traditional rush week occurs during the third full week of the spring semester. On day one, PNMs meet all the Greek organizations participating in formal recruitment — fraternities participating are SAE, Phi Kappa Psi (Phi Psi) and Zeta Tau Zeta — and the following days are dedicated to philanthropy and preference dinners with the organizations, after which bids are distributed.
Cultural fraternities and sororities do not participate in formal recruitment. According to Kappa Alpha Psi Vice-President Jesse Wong (senior), the changes in SAE’s recruitment policy will not have an impact because his fraternity will continue to recruit outside of the formal system.
SAE will continue to give out bids on the traditional Thursday of rush week — but that is not when SAE recruitment stops, Hupper said.
SAE still cannot recruit first-year students fall semester, according to former Phi Psi President Andy Eichar (senior), who held office when SAE began these changes. Occidental does not want first years to be purely defined by which Greek organization they join, Eichar said.
Other campus fraternities participating in formal recruitment still use the three-day new member process. Now that SAE begins recruitment before formal rush, PNMs can rush SAE before rush week, when other organizations cannot rush new members.
“Recruitment used to be more or less an equitable agreement between the organizations,” Eichar said. “Every organization would have the chance to present themselves, so that people could decide which one really matters to them.”
Eichar said that straying from Greek Council protocols is inequitable.
“If you’re not playing by the rules, you’re not held accountable to the same standard as everyone else,” Eichar said. “It gives you an advantage of operating however you want.”
According to Hupper, SAE is not breaking Greek Council rules because a provision in the by-laws allows Greek organizations to opt out of formal recruitment. He said that SAE national policy overrides Greek Council, whose by-laws are structured to ensure national organizations’ guidelines are met.
Hupper said that the by-laws need to be remodeled because they are outdated to the point that they do not recognize all fraternities on campus, and holes exist in various measures — such as the protocol for when an organization opts out of recruitment.
SAE will recruit independently once the by-laws are rewritten, Hupper said. In the meantime, Greek Council set interim measures in November to uphold recruitment equality among the fraternities when SAE attempted to opt out of formal recruitment.
Greek Council members decided that SAE could proceed with year-round recruitment as long as it did not give out bids before the official bid day and maintained the 24-hour no-contact period between fraternity members and candidates before granting them bids, according to Eichar and Hupper.
Hupper said that year-round recruitment presents both advantages and disadvantages. While SAE can host more recruiting events, it can no longer concentrate all of its energy into the traditional rush period because their energy will be divided by their year-long efforts.
“Where it may seem that we have a competitive advantage by having more events, we have a whole different process, so it’s not really competition,” Hupper said.
Hupper also said that recruitment is not all about beating other fraternities.
“[SAE is] definitely my most valuable Occidental experience,” Hupper said. “We all love it and it’s obvious to us, but we want to communicate that to the biggest pool of people possible.”
Phi Psi Vice President Matt Schorr (junior) said that Phi Psi will continue to follow the traditional recruiting protocol outlined by the Greek Council.
“I’m not concerned with Greek recruitment policy because we have no problem working within the rules,” Schorr said.
Eichar said that Greek Council provides legitimacy among the fraternities and prevents a recruitment arms race, but SAE’s new recruitment strategy turns it into a free-market model.
“The beautiful thing about Greek life at Oxy is that it’s not your life — this is making it lives,” Eichar said.
Despite the changes SAE brought to rush week, Silva said that he has not observed any backlash from other fraternities.
“The relationship between all Greek organizations, including Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Phi Kappa Psi, is one that is interdependent and cordial,” Silva said.
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