Learn more about the 2009 fall fraternity rush at coloradoifc.com .
For more on fall 2009 sorority recruitment, visit colorado.edu/greeks/recruitment .
Fraternities and sororities at the University of Colorado appear poised to have a banner year.
On the eve of fall rush, it appears that the number of CU students interested in joining a Greek organization is on the rise. Leaders attribute the trend to the improving reputation of the community, which suffered a hit following the 2004 alcohol-poisoning death of a freshman fraternity pledge.
“Fraternities in Boulder have a better reputation now than they did six years ago,” said Marc Stine, a Greek advocate who works for the off-campus fraternities. While fraternities still party, he said, they’re becoming increasingly focused on activities such as community service and philanthropy.
“We just have a better product than we did five, 10 years ago — hell, even last year,” said Patrick Shortall, a CU junior and president of Sigma Phi Epsilon. “Our focus now is on developing members from the time they walk in the door to the time when they graduate with diplomas.
“I think freshmen see that.”
Rush begins Thursday for the 14 fraternities of the Interfraternity Council, which is no longer affiliated with the university after refusing to sign on to a series of reforms — including a delayed spring-semester rush — in 2005. CU’s nine sororities, which agreed to the reforms and retained their affiliation, will begin recruiting new members on Friday. Both rushes will span several days.
This is the second time since signing on to the reforms that sororities have been allowed to recruit in the fall, said Courtney Krebs, a CU senior and the Panhellenic membership recruitment coordinator for the college’s sororities. After seeing their numbers fall off in years when they recruited in the spring, the sororities were given permission to move their rush back to the fall, she said.
Fall recruitment was a huge success last year, she said, with more than 850 women showing up to check out the various sorority houses. And this year looks like it will be even bigger. With two and a half more days to register, there were already 850 women signed up yesterday, Krebs said.
“I’ve been racking my head and trying to figure out what would make recruitment so popular this year,” Krebs said. She partly credits coordination with the fraternities. “You see better numbers when guys and girls are going through it together because it creates a buzz in the dorms.”
Fraternities have seen a similar spike in interest. As of noon Tuesday, 541 men were registered to rush, Stine said, which is more than last year. Furthermore, 104 men have already joined a fraternity this fall under the fraternities’ open-bidding process, he said. Last year, 82 went that route.
Membership in Greek organizations has been climbing over the past several years, despite the fraternities’ schism with the university. Four years later, that relationship appears to be warming, as evidenced by CU’s decision to allow fraternities to recruit at an on-campus fair earlier this month.
The Interfraternity Council “has proven that we can be responsible and we can have good behavior and the Greek community is a good place for CU students to be,” said Matt Anderson, a CU senior and president of Theta Xi. As for this fall’s rush, Anderson said his fraternity is picky.
“We’re not looking for guys who are just looking for a place to party on the weekend and talk to girls,” he said. “We’re looking for guys who are going to contribute to the success of our chapter.”
Following the fraternities’ rush, which ends Oct. 10, another organization will be looking for recruits: Phi Gamma Delta, a fraternity that closed its CU chapter in 2005 due to alcohol-related violations. Now the fraternity, affectionately known as “Fiji,” wants to reestablish its Boulder branch.
“It seemed like a good time for our fraternity to be back on campus because all the recruitment numbers have been up,” said Jesse Hitt, director of expansion for the national Phi Gamma Delta.
Phi Gamma Delta representatives will be on campus for six weeks, looking to recruit between 30 and 40 “founding fathers,” Hitt said. He said they’re looking for academically strong team players who may not have considered joining a fraternity before to start “something new, something fresh.”
Phi Gamma Delta was one of several fraternities to close down in the year following the drinking death of freshman pledge Lynn Gordon “Gordie” Bailey Jr. Bailey’s own Chi Psi house closed, as did Tau Kappa Epsilon and Phi Kappa Tau. None of the others have returned.