Rush events are great. Free wings, steak dinners, raffles for a PS3, maybe even some laser tag.
There’s about a 99% chance that your chapter or someone else on your campus hosted one of the events above (or something very similar) in the last couple of months. Everyone is attempting to outdo one another (while exerting a ton of energy and spending quite a bit of money) in an attempt to outdraw every other chapter, for three to seven nights of the year.
And why do we do this? Partially, it’s because rush is an institution and a necessary evil, and we as chapters, need to participate in it to be competitive on campus and to get our name out there. The theory is, we get people there, they meet us, eat our food, play our games, and get to know us over a couple of days, then they’ll sign a bid card.
But if I’m a rushee who has been wooed into signing a bid card with the combination of cayenne pepper and deep-friend goodness, I’m looking for the blue cheese and celery immediately following Phikiea induction.
That’s an obvious exaggeration, but my point is what we are doing during rush isn’t an accurate representation of who we are- it’s false advertising- the ol’ bait and switch. The majority of rush events are not events that will happen as part of the actual Phi Delt experience once someone is a Phikeia or an initiated member. Because last time I checked, all you can eat boneless wings aren’t normally included in most chapter’s dues structure.
You always hear about focusing on year-round recruitment opposed to rush and the main reason for this is simply because of the numbers. There are a whole lot more students on campus than those who go through rush, so that’s a no brainer. But the other thing that you’re able to accomplish by recruiting year round is by having activities with potential new members that showcase who you are as a chapter and who you want to be while not spending much extra time of money doing it.
Define who you are and who you want to be and recruit members informally. If you’re an athletic chapter that loves intramurals, invite someone to an intramural practice, or if rules allow it, have them be on your team. Do you have an alumni event coming up? Why not invite someone from class to stop by the house and meet a successful alumnus. Just hanging out? That’s OK too, bring them by to play Madden or shoot pool, hang out- it’s what we do, but outside of the rush setting it doesn’t seem so fake. None of this stuff is over the top or even obvious that it’s a recruitment tactic, it’s just a chance for you to introduce your chapter and your members to someone that doesn’t include spicy BBQ.
There’s also a side of using year round recruitment to improve the quality and quantity of your membership. Are you having a hard time getting guys to show up for service events or speakers on campus? If you invite guys to participate in these types of events with your chapter prior to joining, they will see this as a part of who you are and not it will only help grow your chapter, but it will help you find Phikeia that are a lot more likely to be great brothers and not be fined for not showing up to this type of event.
If you already have elements of these concepts in your rush events , great, but make sure you’re pushing similar activities into other times of the year. Because while everyone is always looking for the next ground breaking, revolutionary rush idea, chances are, you already know it; it’s something that you did last week or already have on the calendar next month.
DISCLAIMER- This blog intended to make a point about recruitment and the opinions expressed here are not representative of my own feelings about Buffalo Wings or those of Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity.
Sean Wagner has been a member of the Fraternity’s GHQ staff for six years serving as a Leadership Consultant, Director of Expansion, Director of Alumni Services, and is currently the Associate Executive Vice President. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Mu Chapter and a graduate of Widener University and is pursuing his Masters in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from Northern Kentucky University and currently resides in Cincinnati.