Daily Collegian Story - Fraternities focus on positives

By Adena Schwartz - Collegian Staff Writer as Printed in the Daily Collegian on January 28, 2005

Fraternities focus on positives

According to leaders of Sigma Nu, Theta Delta Chi and Theta Chi, the recruitment process typically known as "rush" is outdated.

This semester, the three fraternities are changing their old standards to join a national trend. For spring 2005 recruitment, the three fraternities will participate in Values-Based Recruitment, a method that is being embraced by different fraternity chapters throughout the nation.

Interfraternity Council (IFC) President Brian Bertges said Values-Based Recruitment is a way to refocus on the morals and values on which an individual fraternity or sorority was founded.

The new recruitment method emphasizes the internal qualities of its members and potential members, he said. "It's basically representing fraternity values on a day-to-day basis, like talking about positive things that the fraternity has done, and not focusing on the external benefits, but what a person represents, as well as encouraging people to get involved for the right reason," Bertges said. "How you recruit determines how you will evolve in the future. If you recruit people based upon leadership qualities, then you will have a leadership fraternity."

Values-Based Recruitment is new to Penn State, although it is not a new concept nationally, Jared Brown, assistant director of fraternity and sorority life, said. "It's about having prominent alumni talk about their commitment, a night where the history of the organization and its prominent members are looked at, or community service at a State College soup kitchen."

Matt Schwartz (junior-public relations), a member of Theta Delta Chi fraternity, 305 E. Prospect Ave., said some fraternities are centered around partying and alcohol. "While we are social and enjoy hanging out, we realize that there is a higher purpose, like brotherhood, philanthropy and service," he said. "We look for future brothers that embody the same goals and principles that we do -- young men that want to reach out to the community and be good role models."

Values-Based Recruitment also differs from traditional recruitment because it does not have a set time period; it is an ongoing experience.

"Recruitment is every day," said Andy Hackett, former IFC president and member of Sigma Nu fraternity, 340 N. Burrowes Road. "You get to know people you like that have good characteristics and values, 365 days a year. It allows you to get acquainted and [allows] for more meaningful conversations, instead of the crutches of how big a party is, who your girlfriend is, etc."

He also dispelled the popular misconception that rush is in fact, "a rush."

"The term originated in the '40s and '50s when fraternities would open their doors, and people would literally 'rush' in, wanting to join. The term has come to be misconstrued, that you must get in as quickly as possible," Hackett said. "We are trying to change that ideology by getting to know members and getting to know what they are joining for."

Sigma Nu President Jonathan Kamide said the new recruitment process could help to change negative opinions of fraternities.

"We want to get away from the bad things associated with fraternities, and I think we're well on our way," he said.

Brown said the greek system should continue to strive for improvement.

"I believe that we get caught up in the 'Penn State bubble' across the board --whether it be football or striving to be the biggest and the best," he said. "We are products of our environment, and change is good. If you want to better your organization, you have to change the future."