2018 IFC recruitment participation declines slightly from last year

Office of the Dean of Students, HRL, IFC work together to create safe recruitment process

life-FraternityBidDay2018-ChCollins 6

598 bids were extended and 541 were accepted throughout the 2018 IFC recruitment process.

Chandler Collins | Cavalier Daily

905 male students participated in the 2018 recruitment process for the University Inter-Fraternity Council, compared to 1061 last year. While participation dropped by close to 15 percent, the acceptance rate of bids — invitations to join a fraternity — was slightly higher than in 2017.

The IFC held its annual Bid Day Saturday, which served as the culmination of a two-week-long recruitment process for 31 active University fraternities. 

598 bids were extended and 541 were accepted, amounting to about a 90 percent acceptance rate per bid. About 58 percent of all male students registered for the recruitment process accepted bids.

This year’s IFC recruitment process and Bid Day follows a year of controversiality surrounding fraternities across the country. Incidents involving excessive amounts of alcohol led to the death of one pledge at Penn State University in February 2017 and another at Florida State University in November, leading to an intensified national scrutinization of fraternities and the culture surrounding the recruitment process. Florida State, among other universities — including Texas State University, Ohio State University and the University of Michigan — indefinitely or temporarily suspended fraternity activities after chapters at the schools came under investigation for unsafe hazing rituals. 

In an email to The Cavalier Daily, Ashwanth Samuel, a third-year College student and IFC President, discussed the number of students who participated in this year’s recruitment process compared to previous years. 

“We had 905 registered potential new members,” Samuel said. “This is lower than last year. However, it is still above the average number of registrants we have recorded since 2008 which is roughly 885.”

Samuel acknowledged the tragic events that occurred in fraternities at other institutions, but did not attribute the drop in the number of participating University students to the events that happened on other campuses. 

“While one may point towards the national climate surrounding Greek Life as the reason for this drop in registration numbers, it's important to note that after Rolling Stone published A Rape on Campus, registrants actually increased in the subsequent recruitment season,” Samuel said.  “Given the relatively small decline in registration numbers, we are not interpreting this change as a causal indication of a larger trend.”

The slight drop in the number of students who went through the recruitment process this year did not change the IFC’s mission. Andrew Bell, a third-year Commerce student and IFC Vice President of Membership, said in an email that the recent events at other institutions have increased the importance of the IFC’s mission to cultivate a reputable, safe and inclusive fraternity culture at the University. 

“The IFC has continually worked to improve the character, reputation, and perception of each 

of its 31 currently active chapters, as well as of the Greek community at UVa as a whole,” Bell said. “In light of recent tragic events at other universities, our mission has not changed but has only grown more important.”

According to Bell, the IFC l implemented new measures to accomplish their goals, ranging from continual communication with chapters to a new need-based dues scholarship program. 

“Through regular messaging to the chapters, a newly implemented need-based dues scholarship, and regular initiatives to improve safety and risk management, the IFC has worked extremely hard over the last year [under former IFC President Henry Crochiere] to further our mission and goals,” Bell said.

Hal Turner, an assistant dean and director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said in an email to The Cavalier Daily that one of the ways University ensured a smooth and safe recruitment process was by maintaining frequent and clear communication between the IFC and the Office of the Dean of Students.

According to Turner, ODOS met with all outgoing and incoming IFC chapter presidents, recruitment chairs and new member educators before recruitment began to discuss University and IFC policies concerning the recruitment process, new member education, social functions and general safety.

“In this meeting, the Office of the Dean of Students discussed the national climate surrounding Greek safety and the importance of promoting positive, educational and safe experiences for all members of the Greek community at the University of Virginia,” Turner said.

Turner also stated that IFC recruitment at the University must follow a strict no-alcohol rule, and that violations are handled at different levels depending on the severity of the case.

“The Inter-Fraternity Council Bylaws state that alcohol is strictly prohibited throughout the IFC recruitment process,” Turner said. “Reported violations are investigated, tried, and sanctioned through the Inter-Fraternity Council Judiciary Committee, University Judiciary Committee, or the University on a case-by-case basis.”

On Bid Day, members of the Housing and Residence Life resident staff were on coverage and University police were present to maintain a safe and non-threatening environment for both pledges and other residents. Tyler Ambrose, a fourth-year College student and Housing and Residence Life co-chair, discussed the security presence during the presentation of bids to rushees in first-year dorm areas.

“The coverage that occurred in the dorms spanned … the times that IFC kind of walked through old dorms and new dorms area to come get residents,” Ambrose said. “There was, this year, increased police presence, but that was coordinated independent of the resident staff coverage.”

The IFC worked closely with Housing and Residence Life in order to establish a clear set of precedents and expectations for how Bid Day would operate. Ambrose said the day turned out to be a smooth experience with no major incidents.

“It was definitely a positive operation and experience on our end,” Ambrose said. “We’re really grateful for the IFC for working so well with us this year and looking forward to next year and the years to come.”

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