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Appalachian Delays Freshman Rush

By Jane Nicholson

BOONE–There will be no freshman rush at Appalachian State University this fall.

First-year students interested in joining a Greek fraternity or sorority must wait until their second semester to participate in the organizations’ recruitment activities.

“Students who wait at least one semester before joining a Greek organization do better academically,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Development Greg Blimling. “By giving students the fall semester to adjust to the demands of college, we hope that they will establish the positive study patterns that will help sustain them throughout their college career.”

Heretofore, students interested in joining a Greek organization usually began the pledge process within the first weeks of the first semester.

Student development personnel had been considering deferring freshmen rush for some time. Information from a study conducted by Tina Hogan, a researcher in the Office of Student Development, helped them finalize that decision.

The showed that male students who pledged to a fraternity in their first semester were more likely to have a lower grade point average than male students who did not join a fraternity during the first semester at school. Conversely, female students who joined a sorority in the first semester had a higher grade point average for that time period than women who did not pledge.

The study also found that male and female students pledging to a Greek organization also were less likely to participate in other student activities. The students had lower critical thinking and reading scores as sophomores than non-Greek students.

There are 22 Greek organizations on campus. Dino DiBernardi, director of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, estimates that approximately 250 freshmen join a fraternity or sorority each year–only a small percent of the total freshman population. “It’s not so much the numbers. It’s a question of what we think will be best for any new student’s transition to college,” DiBernardi said. “The deferred rush also gives students more time to make an informed decision about the Greek community.”

Some freshmen have a perception of Greek life based on television programs or movies, such as “Animal House,” and think Greek organizations are a place to find dates and drink, DiBernardi said. “Our organizations were struggling to overcome that image.

The deferred rush gives the organization ample time to promote what they are looking for in students, and gives students time to learn what kind of organization they want to be associated with. Students looking for a way to cut loose will see that joining a Greek organization isn’t the way to go.”

Art Quickenton, a professor in the Reich College of Education, has been a faculty advisor to Pi Kappa Phi fraternity since 1981. He tells members that academics come first. “You’re not here to have a good time,” he tells the members. Fraternity and sorority members are introduced to volunteerism through participation in service activities. They also are encouraged to become members of other organizations. “Fraternities, just like future employers, want a well-rounded individual,” he said.

Freshmen participating in the deferred rush must have completed 12 semester hours of coursework and have attainted a 2.25 minimum grade point average. A minimum 2.0 grade point average is required to maintain membership in the fraternity or sorority.

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Contacts:

Gregory S. Blimling, vice chancellor for student development, (828) 262-2060

Dino DiBernardi, Director of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, (828) 262-6252

Jane Nicholson, Director of University News, (828) 262-2345