On January 19, 2016 an email was sent out to students announcing the college’s decision to defer Panhellenic and IFC recruitment to the spring. In mere minutes, a myriad of emotions passed through the student body at the seemingly abrupt decision. The email cited the decision as one slowly and thoughtfully reached through a series of Common Table meetings.
Several people approached me during this time and the weeks to follow, suggesting that Her Campus Rhodes write an article about deferred rush. But I was torn about writing a piece. The writers, ranters, and commentators of Rhodes College were posting Facebook statuses, typing open letters, and spray-painting plywood—I wasn’t sure how my voice would be heard in this fervent chorus, or how I could compete with the plywood.
Additionally, I didn’t really know what to say about the situation. I guess the most accurate way I could say I felt was…blind-sided. I felt blind-sided. (Was that neutral enough? I feel like that wasn’t very neutral). Okay we’ll try that again. Okay—I guess the most politically correct, impartial, middle-of-the-road way I could put this—I felt straight up betrayed.
If I’m going to be transparent, I felt taken aback. I felt betrayed that an infrastructure embedded in my experience at Rhodes—in fact, a significant pillar in my Rhodes experience and integration—was being uprooted without any question or care. I felt that my sense of familiarity and trust had been fractured by what seemed like a cold, apathetic move out of left field.
Everyone has different opinions. This opinion above, or “reaction,” is mine and mine only—not representative of Her Campus Rhodes as a whole or any other staff writer. However, as vehement as my opinion was, it is an opinion I have left in the past. I honestly don’t care anymore. Months have passed. Summer has passed. I have had far more pressing things to worry about, such as the impending doom of graduate school applications, selling my soul to the government for student loans, and the discontinuation of Victoria’s Secret swimsuit line. This piece is simply a reflection on the decision—a retrospective analysis on what things are looking like today on the other side of the storm…or perhaps, just the eye of it.
There’s no need to rehash the events that unfolded. Everyone saw the plywood signs threatening to boycott block parties (I’m telling you, the plywood is the way to go). Everyone saw the ensuing Facebook status fights (I love eighth grade too). Just last week, a particular fraternity declared a “Bid Day 2016” and continued with the festivities regardless (“Be the change you wish to see in the world. Especially at Rhodes College. #BringBackFallRush” –Gandhi). But for the most part, is the displeased segment of the student population still unhappy about spring rush? Or have they just accepted it? Most importantly, how well is the concept actually playing out?
Now that we’re in the midst of recruitment literally being deferred, we probably should examine the points made in favor of the decision. Maybe this common experience is more important than people could have conceived. Maybe people will look back and understand the value in uniting first year students in this common experience. Maybe people will see a change in campus culture without “interference” from organized social ties.
I think a concern that was brought to light in regard to fall rush was the issue of non-Greeks and Greeks becoming polarized from one another so early in the year. My concern that somewhat counters this concern is the following: I feel like an entire class is polarized. They may feel more united as a grade, but do they feel united and integrated within Rhodes? I don’t feel like they’re integrated. I don’t feel like they feel connected. They have a limited number of channels for making Rhodes their second home other than simply barreling through this semester, feeling awkward, feeling shy, just pushing through typical, common freshman experience of feeling at the bottom of the totem pole. Greek life is by no means the only channel for adaption—but I feel as if it is a valuable conduit in meeting older members of the Rhodes community, and that it has been taken away in a sense.
Maybe this will change as we approach the second semester. Maybe I am analyzing an inherent part of any freshman experience, whether they are given the option to rush or not. But I think there’s only one way to find out—we’ll ask the freshmen come spring time.
We’ll see if this is the eye of the storm.