Interfraternity Council implements new recruitment strategies beginning Fall 2022

Changes included more transparent event communication, internal scholarship programs and expanded sexual assault trainings for potential new members.

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Ophelia Lu

Greek Row, captured on Sept. 30, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia / Ophelia Lu)

Rhea Patney, Staff Writer

The Interfraternity Council changed some of its recruitment strategies beginning this semester. IFC plans to implement more transparent communication about events, expanded financial aid options and expanded mandatory sexual assault training. 

IFC recruits twice a year. The first cycle begins at the beginning of the fall semester and ends in mid-September; this cycle is only open to upperclassmen. The second cycle, which is open to all students, begins in late September and continues through the beginning of the spring semester. During the fall semester, interested students have the opportunity to attend one-on-one meals with brothers and chapter-wide events to learn about each fraternity before the second recruitment cycle.

IFC President Ben Powdermaker, a senior, said the pandemic made it difficult to enact recruitment changes in earlier years. Recruitment was only partially in person during the 2021-22 year and virtual in 2020-21. It will be fully in-person this year, as mask-wearing and social distancing are no longer required.

“It’s good to kind of see everyone out and about on campus and feeling like things are starting to go back to normal,” Powdermaker said. 

According to Powdermaker, IFC fraternities are now placing emphasis on clear communication about events. IFC now sends weekly emails to every student registered for recruitment with a breakdown of the recruitment events happening that week. It is also requiring each chapter to register all of their events on AnchorLink to eliminate confusion about event details. In addition, Powdermaker said IFC’s revamped social media presence hopes to increase accessibility and awareness of the events.

“This way, they [potential new members] can have a breadth of opportunities to go to as many houses as they want to check out different things,” Powdermaker said.

Powdermaker added that IFC has previously faced issues with multiple chapters scheduling events on the same days due to a lack of communication. He said the IFC is now working to coordinate between chapters and to schedule events on different days to give students more chances to explore more IFC chapters. According to Powdermaker, one of the main goals of IFC recruitment events is to maximize networking opportunities for potential new members (PNMs). He explained that this goal cannot be realized if students are forced to pick between which fraternities’ events to attend due to them occurring simultaneously. 

First-year Soham Saraf said he has enjoyed the recruitment experience this semester and has benefitted from the networking opportunities with upperclassmen. 

“I’ve really enjoyed the social and networking aspect of rushing,” Saraf said. “I’ve found that the majority of the brothers I’ve spoken with have been really inclusive and personable individuals. Most of the conversations I’ve had with them have been far from surface-level and have felt genuine.”

Powdermaker added that IFC is making it clear to PNMs which fraternities are registered, on-campus organizations. In Fall 2021, the Office of Greek Life and the Delta Kappa Epsilon national fraternity denounced “fraternity-like” operations by former brothers of Vanderbilt’s now-closed Gamma chapter of DKE.    

“We’ve tried to be as transparent as possible with some of the unregistered organizations that are trying to act like they are part of Greek Life still, and just letting students know that if they decide to join those organizations, then they’re not going to have the same protections and the same policies in place and the benefits of joining an on campus organization,” Powdermaker said.

He added that IFC is also working to advertise and grow re-established chapters such as Beta Theta Pi, Phi Delta Theta and Phi Kappa Psi.

“Over the past year and a half, the IFC has also expanded to include more chapters, which provides more opportunities for prospective members to find a chapter that aligns with their values,” director of the office of Greek Life Kristin Torrey said in an email to The Hustler.

Torrey said a major part of IFC recruitment changes are expansions in financial inclusivity. Powdermaker added that IFC is advertising these increases in financial resources to open up recruitment to more diverse students. According to Powdermaker, scholarships are being put toward supporting students with chapter dues through a need-based process. 

“Nearly 50% of IFC’s annual budget is earmarked for scholarships for community members who receive need-based aid,” Torrey said. “Greek Life works with each chapter directly to create robust internal scholarship opportunities.” 

Additionally, IFC has worked with the Project Safe Center for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Respnse to facilitate extended, required sexual assault trainings for every student that registers for recruitment.  

“We’re letting recruits know throughout the recruitment process that there will be a continued [sexual assault] prevention education as they join their chapter,” Powdermaker said. “This is something that they should be interested in and wanting to be involved in if they’re thinking about joining Greek life.”

Saraf said IFC’s “approachability” made him stick with the recruitment process. He stated that his conversations with brothers about his involvement in other student organizations and classes have felt productive and engaging. 

“I’ve had great conversations about a variety of topics such as my involvement with the BhangraDores, the Premier League and being a premed student at Vanderbilt,” Saraf said. “I came into Vanderbilt not knowing if I would want to rush, but I think one can quickly realize that the Vandy Greek Life culture is pretty unique and more approachable than that of other private schools and larger state schools.”

As recruitment continues into the spring semester, Powdermaker said he is looking forward to getting as many people involved as possible by promoting IFC’s new recruitment strategies. 

“I think that the way recruitment works, it keeps you involved as you get older and  continuing to meet new people and meet freshmen on campus, which I think is a really awesome thing to be doing,” Powdermaker said. “Also, a lot of the initiatives that we’ve pushed and worked on for the last couple of years are kind of finally coming into fruition, which is awesome.”