The Rush on Rush: Greek Life at UNO

The academic year begins next week at the University of New Orleans and Greek life is already getting into full swing, said Dale O’Neill, coordinator of leadership and community service programs at UNO.

“They get a community, they make friends, they hear from fraternity and sorority members what classes to take and they get involved. They become leaders outside of their own fraternity or sorority on campus,” said O’Neill of student members who choose to join a Greek organization on campus.

“It’s great to automatically make friendships. It’s great there are scholarship opportunities with each chapter. Our average Greek GPA is always above the average GPA at UNO.”

The University’s Inter Fraternity Council of fraternities and Pan Hellenic Council of sororities are now planning their “rush” weeks for early September. The National Pan Hellenic Council, which is made up solely of historically African American sororities and fraternities, is now preparing for “Intake.”

During rush, prospective members attend parties and events and apply for membership. By the end of the period, fraternities and sororities offer “bids” to new members. This year, IFC rush runs Sept. 10-14 and PHC rush runs Sept. 6-9, said Corbin Becnel, Inter-Fraternity Council President, and Maggie Roussell, Pan Hellenic recruitment chair.

NHPC Membership Intake is the process through which NPHC organizations bring in new members. Rather than attend a formalized rush week, prospective members research prospective organizations and throughout the year attend that organization’s events, called informationals. During sophomore year, they decide which fraternity or sorority to join.

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 timetable for Intake according to national and local policies.

UNO has 14 Greek organizations on campus -- six sororities and eight fraternities, said O’Neill. About 125 students are now involved and she expects that number to rise after bid week. Approximately 150 to 200 students are typically members of Greek Life on campus, O’Neill said. The largest chapter at UNO has 30 members.

“Most of our Greek life on campus is open to all students,” said O’Neill. “It’s a lot less intimidating for the incoming students. Our Greek system is a lot smaller than LSU’s, so typically when they go through rush, they will land something. What I tell our students about Greek life is that it’s large enough that you will make friends and expand your network, but it’s small enough that the recruitment or intake process is not as intimidating as the surrounding state schools and institutions.”

Greek organizations at UNO each have a minimum 2.5 GPA requirement and hold tutoring sessions and study halls to ensure that members are upholding high academics, O’Neill said. For the last 14 years, the UNO Greek average GPA has been higher than that of the campus average.

Greek organizations at UNO require that members belong to at least one other organization. They also each raise awareness and provide philanthropic efforts for an organization of their choice.

One sorority supports Autism Speaks, a national nonprofit and the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization, O’Neill said. The UNO chapter last year raised more than $10,000 for autism awareness through active participation in Walk Now for Autism Speaks.