DID YOU ever hear the one about the guy with the hook for a hand who murdered all those people? It's a true story; I heard it from my uncle.
I heard another one too. It's about a wonderful time when fraternities at the University were allowed to do whatever they wanted and the big bad administration didn't bother them. Then one day, a group of nosey professors and some wolves from the big bad administration pulled a fast one and took away the fraternities' freedom to recruit people whenever they wanted and to do whatever they chose. Poor frats.
You guessed it, both of these stories are just tall tales. According to Dean of Students Penny Rue, the administration always has been involved in establishing when rush could occur -- not just in the last few years.
Rue said in a personal interview, "When rush occurs has always been a University decision. It was not a decision that was taken away from students." Rue also said that, although rush traditionally has been held in the fall, there have been instances when it has occurred at other times.
The debate over whether to move rush back to the fall has been the focus of much, if not all, of the Inter-Fraternity Council's energy this year. But the issue at hand is not whether to reinstate aspects of student self-governance that were stripped away from students. Instead we must examine whether the IFC should be allowed to expand its authority to include powers it did not formerly possess.
The Greek system would be better served if it stopped demonizing administrators for their role in maintaining current rush dates. Instead, it needs to start looking for ways to demonstrate to the administration that it is capable of responsibly and ethically governing itself. This behavior then would lend credence to the claim that the IFC should hold responsibility for setting rush dates.
"Student self-governance is a partnership; we work collaboratively together ... " said Rue, " ... but they have been adversarial."
Rather than brow beating administrators and evoking fiery rhetoric about student rights, the IFC should involve themselves actively in building bridges with the administration through open and frank communication, rather than burning them through its current campaign of antagonism.
The bottom line is that rush isn't going back to the fall anytime soon. No matter who the IFC appeals to, chances are things will remain exactly as they are now. There are more pressing concerns that deserve to become the organization's top priority.
The first of these is that the IFC needs to help each house develop a plan for achieving financial stability under the new system. Spring rush has caused many houses to experience loss of a semester's revenue and a lowered number of house occupants, but neither of these should come as a death blow to any house. Those fraternities facing financial turmoil are just going to have to reevaluate their financial situations and restructure. IFC can play an invaluable role in this process.
Also, any decrease in interest due to delayed rush should serve as cause for a reevaluation of the rushing and pledging process as a whole. Collectively, the IFC and individual fraternities should ask themselves what attracts men to their organizations, what deters them from joining, and what they can do to sustain their appeal for two semesters.
While some naysayers characterize delayed rush as an intolerable hindrance to the fraternity system, it can serve the purpose of providing a moment of pause in which the system can look upon itself in a critical light. Just as a rushee should make a thorough evaluation of a fraternity before pledging, so the fraternities themselves should use the fall semester as a time for improvement and self-critique.
The IFC has an opportunity to reassert itself as an important and dynamic organization on Grounds during this transitional period and to set a strong precedent for self-reliance for the future. If these things can happen, does the date of rush really matter at all?
(Rob Walker's column appears Thursdays in The Cavalier Daily .)