Friday, August 14, 2015

UNO Greeks Get Ready for Fall Rush

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At the University of New Orleans, Greeks are getting ready for fall rush. Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council of sororities are now planning their recruitment "rush" weeks. Fraternity rush runs from Aug. 31 through Sept. 4. Sorority rush begins Aug. 27 and ends Aug. 30. The National Pan-Hellenic Council, which is made up solely of historically African-American sororities and fraternities, is now preparing for its yearlong intake process.

There are 14 Greek organizations on UNO's campus—seven sororities and eight fraternities.

"More than 300 students participated in Greek Life during the 2014-2015 academic year," said Dale O'Neill, director of student involvement and leadership. According to O'Neill, Greek Life at UNO has seen a 36 percent rise in participation over the past three years.

"Greek Life is expanding so much. It's getting bigger and bigger each and every year," said Dalton Sanford, recruitment chair for the UNO Interfraternity Council. "The good thing about Greek Life at UNO is that we're involved on campus. UNO Greeks are leaders in student government, orientation and service coalition."

In fact, Greek organizations at UNO require that members belong to at least one other organization. Each Greek organization also commits to raise awareness and provide philanthropic efforts for an organization of their choice. During the 2014-2015 academic year, Greek organizations at UNO collectively raised more than $29,000 for philanthropies and completed more than 1,000 hours of community service.

"This fall, fraternities and sororities are hoping to maintain and increase momentum," Sanford said. "Everyone who meets academic requirements is welcome to participate."

Academic requirements for joining Greek organizations include having a GPA of 2.5. Tutoring sessions and study halls are part of the Greek experience. For the last 15 years, the UNO Greek average GPA has consistently been higher than the campus average, according to O'Neill.

On the Fraternity Front

"Recruitment Week for fraternities encompasses four evenings of programming for individuals interested in fraternity life," said O'Neill, who attends all events. Potential new members complete a registration form through the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, the campus unit which serves as the official host for these activities. The first two evening events occur on campus in the University Center, where each fraternity chapter is given a private room to hold a 45-minute meet and greet session with potential new members.

"Typically, each chapter has a presentation and some mingling activities," said O'Neill.

The third night involves outdoor activities such as football or kickball on campus, and the final evening takes the fun off-campus, perhaps for miniature golf at New Orleans City Park. At the end of the week, potential new members visit the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, where O'Neill presents any "bids," or the process whereby a new member is invited to join a fraternity.

"If the potential new member accepts, he will go through an eight-week program designed for new members of his fraternity," O'Neill said. Typically, the new member period consists of weekly meetings and brotherhood events. During this period, new members learn about the fraternity's values, mission, leadership roles and traditions.

Sorority Sisters Prepare for Rush

"Rush is basically a four-day process," said Adrianna Lochner, Panhellenic Recruitment chair. On the first day, an open house event allows potential new members to visit with each sorority and get to know their values. One-on-one visits with current sorority members can be very informative for new recruits, according to Lochner.

The second day of sorority rush educates new recruits on each group's chosen philanthropy and the kind of community service they can expect to be engaged in as members, such as raising awareness for autism or breast cancer. The third day is known as the Preference Round.

"The Preference Round is very personal. You get to have a very intimate conversation with one of the sisters you have connected with during recruitment," said Lochner.

By the third day, students participating in rush typically receive cards from the top two sororities likely to give them bids, according to Lochner. Finally, on the fourth day, recruitment counselors from each sorority hand out bids at the University Center. New sorority members then join their respective sisters at the outdoor amphitheater on campus to celebrate.

"It's just a fun, exciting day," said Lochner.

Intake: A Yearlong Process

National Pan-Hellenic Council Intake is the process through which NPHC organizations recruit new members. Rather than attend a formalized rush week, prospective members research each organization and attend that organization's events throughout the year. Decisions about which fraternity or sorority to join are made during a student's sophomore year.

Generally, students must have completed at least 12 semester hours at UNO and be in good academic standing to be eligible for membership in an NPHC organization, according to the Office of Student Affairs. Each organization sets its own intake timetable.