IFC recruitment undergoes changes, addresses scrutiny

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Groups of men moved in and out of fraternity houses and wound their way around campus Sunday as fraternity recruitment began.
The first round of recruitment, during which potential new members visit all of the ten fraternity chapters for 35 minutes each, spanned nine hours Sunday. In years past, potential new members attended five chapters on Saturday evening and five chapters Sunday afternoon prior to beginning second semester.
The decision to shift from two days to one, according to Interfraternity Council President and junior Jim Perry, was enacted by IFC to reduce communication between potential new members and chapter members between first and second round, a five-day span known as "Silence Week."
Several days still remain between first round (Sunday) and second round (the following Friday) that Perry said he hopes to eliminate in years to come. After seeing that ten houses can be done in one day, Perry said the next step will be to attempt moving the three rounds of recruitment to one weekend, similar to the Panhellenic Council's recruitment model.
"At the end of the day, a lot of the guys were like, 'This is not something I would want to do again.'" Perry said. "So it might be a chance to see how fast we can do five rounds now that we know how fast we can do 10."
Each chapter gave a 35-minute presentation to potential new members. This time is down from 40 minutes for each presentation last year. There were also 10-minute breaks to move from one chapter to the next and a break in the rotation to decompress.
First-year student Shane Warning said the long day quickly wore him down.
"It was exhausting, definitely a lot to take in in one day," Warning said. "After about four or five houses I just wanted to end it."
Perry said the loss of five minutes had little impact on chapter presentations. He suggested reducing future presentations by 10 additional minutes to 25 minutes each.
"I think you had guys hit on their points and not drag out skits or videos as long just to kill time," he said. "Guys aren't that creative so we could cut even more and still get the main points."
PJ Mitchell, DePauw's assistant director of campus life and coordinator of fraternity life, said he saw tangible changes in the content of first round presentations on Sunday as compared to those last year.
"Coming out of last year there were some definite issues that concerned us in terms of content, inappropriate jokes, crude behavior, hyper-masculinity," Mitchell said. "IFC had a lot of the conversations with chapter coordinators asking, 'How are we going to clean this up? How are we going to get this under control to have more productive first rounds?'"
In an opinion column written by sophomore Connor Gordon printed in The DePauw on Friday, Feb. 29, 2013 titled "Misogyny alive and well on DePauw's campus," Gordon illustrates a scene in one of the Greek chapters as he went through recruitment last spring. Such topics mentioned by Mitchell appeared before Gordon as he visited some of DePauw's fraternities.
"Throughout the speech, women were referred to not as individuals, but as disposable sex objects provided for the enjoyment of the fraternity men. Such attitudes received no rebuke, but instead praise from many of the men," Gordon said.
The opinion column prompted many in the Greek community to reexamine their actions and for IFC to encourage a change.
"I think that [the column] resonated with a lot of fraternity men in terms of a, 'Whoa, this isn't okay, this is impactful and hurtful.'" Mitchell said.
In order to better construct an understanding of how chapters were presenting themselves and how they helped build the identity of the campus as a whole, Dorian Shager, dean of campus life, began conversations with recruitment chairs about communication during recruitment.
"After first round of recruitment last year and after the column came out in The DePauw, we felt something had to change," Shager said. "We started asking, 'Why is it necessary to send those hurtful messages?'"
Perry said the presentations he saw Sunday seemed more appropriate than those given in years past.
"They're still kind of funny, they're still kind of stupid in the sense of what they did, but what they said actually all had a real meaning," Perry said.
Shager agreed that the presentations improved from those he saw last year.
"There really was a difference," Shager said. "The number of chapter messages that were not hurtful or derogatory was much higher."
Warning said most of what he saw was appropriate and did not bother him.
"It's a bunch of guys getting together. I mean it's everything you expect would happen, nothing out of the ordinary," Warning said.
Chapters also learned prior to recruitment that social privileges including flower-in ceremonies, tailgates in the fall and ability to host open events would be denied them if they exceeded the quota for new members. A soft quota stands at 27 members. If a chapter takes one to 27 members there will be no repercussions. If a house takes between 27 members and the hard quota of 30 members, there will be a small fine for each additional member above 27. Should a chapter exceed 30 members, social privileges will be revoked as a consequence.
"So this year, the idea was that these infractions could hurt you financially, and there are other ways it could hurt you, too," Perry said.
The final change in recruitment participation requires potential new members to have a grade point average of 2.5 or above in order to pledge this spring.
IFC recruitment will continue with second round this evening and continue through the weekend.