Lehigh University
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A rush to success

Crediting a unified Greek system campaign, organized marketing efforts and consistent communications with potential new members, Lehigh fraternities saw an 11.8 percent increase this year in rush numbers. The rush numbers for sororities remained stable, while seeing an increase in the number of first-year women pledging.

“I think chapters understood the significance of a successful recruitment year for the health of their own chapter and the Greek system as a whole,” says Michael Dick, a senior finance major and outgoing Interfraternity Council (IFC) president. “Originally there was skepticism prior to spring rush but after exceeding last year’s numbers, I think chapters were pleased with the results.”

Adds Michael Carey, assistant dean, Fraternity and Sorority Affairs: “Chapters really understood the changes and tried to incorporate some of the old tactics with the new, achieving overall success. We also had a good plan of action.”

A four-week spring rush

Going from a 12-week fall rush to a four-week spring rush was a change for the fraternities, who eventually took things in stride.

“Fraternity chapters are accustomed to a 12-week fall rush,” Dick says. “With this year’s rush being moved to the spring semester, chapters still had plans on hosting the same frequency of rush events in the four weeks as they had in the 12 weeks last year. Thus, first-year males were continuously recruited through a number of events, which we felt kept them interested throughout the four-week process.”

For the Greek women, who continued their tradition of a four-week spring semester rush, a focused recruitment of athletes was added to their roster of rush events.

“Athletes are a group that typically doesn’t go Greek,” says Megan Hamilton, a senior marketing and business information systems major and outgoing Panhellenic (Panhel) president. “This year, we invited all first-year women athletes to attend information sessions where Greek women, who were also athletes, spoke about their experiences. It proved very successful.”

During the fall semester, the Greek system utilized a large number of tactics that raised awareness and publicized the Greek system as a whole, including having a large Greek presence during first-year move in day; creating “Why go Greek” brochures and including them in the first-year students’ welcome packet; collecting names of interested first-year students at a Club Fair booth; and hosting a number of social events such as barbeques and dinners.

“I think the fall promotion of the Greek system as a whole helped increase participation,” Hamilton says. “We got a lot of positive feedback.”

Once the spring semester rush kicked off, the Greek men and women kicked it into high gear and executed an organized and detailed campaign to attract more members. Tactics such as ads in The Brown and White, a structured men’s recruitment counselor program, open houses, partnering with gryphons to positively market the Greek system, personal e-mails and letters sent to new members contributed to the increase in Greek rush numbers.

“The marketing of recruitment was very effective during our rush,” Dick says. “I’m so pleased with the results and feel as if this year’s numbers have calmed the skepticism that the new recruitment system would not work. The efforts of IFC, Panhel, Student Affairs and all of our chapters have translated into successful results.”

Adds Carey: “Chapter and student leaders deserve great credit for this year’s rush success. They were willing to rethink and change the process and we were able to see the fruits of their labor.”

Building on this year’s success, Carey and others are already looking to next year’s rush. “For next year, we need to push for even more organization, more marketing and increased communications with parents about the benefits and everyday details of being Greek.”

Adds Dick: “Based on feedback, I think it would be beneficial to give first-year students more exposure to Greeks during the fall semester.”

--Sarah Cooke

Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005

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