Though fraternities had significantly fewer pledges this year ... more than 70 sophomore women rushed sororities, more than double the 2011 total.
When Phoebe Brown ’16 decided to attend Princeton, she had no intention of joining a sorority. When she got here, however, Brown quickly changed her mind, realizing that she was only meeting other freshmen. She wanted to meet students in other classes, too. “The sororities are the link between your student life and your social life,” Brown said.
Brown’s is the first class to experience the ban on freshman rush of Greek organizations, and she expressed her disappointment about the policy. “Every single one of my friends is planning on rushing, and we are all pretty frustrated by [the ban],” she said. “The Princeton social life is now confined to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.”
Caroline Slutsky ’14, president of the Panhellenic Council, said that all of the Greek organizations have respected the ban, which was recommended by the Working Group on Campus Social and Residential Life in May 2011 and approved by President Tilghman.
But the new policy has led to changes on the part of the Greek organizations. Fraternities are considering ways to shorten their pledge process so that it ends before bicker, and both fraternities and sororities are revamping their publicity campaigns to attract sophomores.
And though fraternities had significantly fewer pledges this year — most organizations took about five new members — more than 70 sophomore women rushed sororities, more than double the 2011 total, Slutsky said. Many interpret this as a sign that the organizations will be able to adapt successfully.
“Everyone is respecting the ban. Everyone will respect the ban next year,” said one sophomore fraternity member who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “But from what I’ve seen, people are pretty committed to staying alive. I really don’t think this has to be the end.”
Vice President for Campus Life Cynthia Cherrey, who co-chaired the working group, said the committee sought to promote a sense of community, connections between freshmen and upperclassmen, student-mentorship opportunities, and balance in students’ lives.
During the debate over the University’s policy toward fraternities and sororities, some students said that Greek organizations satisfy some of these goals, particularly that of providing mentorship relationships.
“I think the notion that the sororities provide a mentorship program is something that ought to have been given more attention,” said Lily Alberts ’13, a former U-Councillor who attended CPUC meetings at which sorority leaders made presentations. “If the University better developed its systems of mentorship, it could make fraternities and sororities obsolete in that sense.”
The University took a step in this direction when, expressing concern that early rush narrows a freshman’s social circles and encourages high-risk behavior, the working group recommended the ban of freshman rush and created four teams to address the group’s findings. Initiatives begun or planned include the return of the annual Orange and Black Ball, a “family system” in the residential colleges to encourage contact across classes, and a re-evaluation of freshman orientation.
Cherrey said that response to these projects has been positive, citing the growth of the Women’s Mentorship Program — which forms “pods” of four women, one from each undergraduate class — from 85 to 150 students.