Students at Princeton University may soon be barred from rushing a fraternity or sorority until sophomore year, The Daily Princetonian reported recently. A university committee on social life has recommended restricting freshmen from going Greek. The proposal is aimed at encouraging students to sample a wider array of activities and social circles before settling into a single organization with such a strong influence on their identities and subsequent college experiences.
As university administrator Bob Durkee told the ‘Prince’: “Why do you bring to Princeton people from very different backgrounds from all over the world? You don’t bring them so that the first thing they do is find a comfortable social setting and become encompassed in that, even if while doing that they’re doing other things. What you really want freshman year to be is a time when students are trying out different things, getting to know different people, not settling into a social circle right away.”
Princeton currently does not recognize student frats and sororities, leaving the groups unable to officially use school “resources and facilities.” Yet, they still have a presence on campus, in certain cases acting as membership pipelines for the university’s famed eating clubs. Durkee refers to the set-up as a “faux Greek” system.
Students involved in Greek life at the school strongly disapprove of the recommendation. Since it became public, they have been emailing university administrators, circulating petitions, and collecting data on Greek students’ extracurriculars to counter the committee’s claim of lower involvement.
They argue Greek organizations promote an interaction between upperclassmen and underclassmen that is missing from many parts of campus life. They say Greek chapters are being unfairly targeted as socially isolating, since students similarly limit their social circles by joining athletic teams and performance groups during freshman year. And they assert that the organizations provide an important sense of community for students looking for friendship at the Ivy League school. As one student sorority member said, “Princeton is a very intimidating place for freshman girls. The sororities provide a support system that will be conspicuously absent if the ban is implemented.”
The bottom-line counterargument to the freshmen rush restriction appears to be: The proposed Greek limitation, while well-intentioned, is part of a larger “diversity fantasy” that will never come true. “The university, as much as they would like to, will never be able to force widely differing groups to associate,” one commenter on a Princetonian piece contended. “People make friends with people like them, because people make friends with people who understand them.”
What do you think? What is the proper year and semester for a student to undergo Greek recruitment and rushing? What are the rules on your campus? What do administrators, Greek leaders, and rising freshmen at your college or university think of first-year rush restrictions?
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