In a newly revamped Rush, 455 bids offered

IFC pilots ‘express’ Clearinghouse, Rush smartphone app

Gordon W. Wintrob ’12, Interfraternity Council (IFC) president, can sleep very well at night. The IFC had “a very safe, hassle-free Rush,” in which 455 bids were offered to 369 men, he said — about 1.23 bids for each freshman who rushed. Of the men that were offered bids, 321 (about 87 percent) have pledged as of Monday night.

Bid numbers are comparable to previous years, though the freshman class size is larger this year. Last year, 470 bids were extended to 367 men, or about 1.28 bids per person. In 2009, 437 bids were extended to 338 men.

Alpha Delta Phi took the most pledges this year, followed by Lambda Chi Alpha. The closing of Beta Theta Pi over the summer did not affect Rush, said Wintrob.

A digital Rush

The IFC took several steps to technologically soup-up Rush this year.

A new form of the Clearinghouse system — software which tracks the location of rushing freshmen — was piloted with nine chapters. Tim J. Stumbaugh ’12, IFC vice president, said that the new “Clearinghouse Express” lets fraternities check in freshmen by scanning their MIT ID cards.

“My chapter [Phi Delta Theta] was … one of the pilot members, and I can say that it definitely helped with the check-in/check-out process during Saturday and Sunday, when there was a constant flux of people in and out of the door. Toward the later part of the week, it was easier to identify rushees by name, so there was a bit of a falling off of the system’s use,” wrote Stumbaugh in an email to The Tech.

Phi Sigma Kappa President Jason R. Hoch ’13 had similar observations. “Clearinghouse Express was convenient early in Rush. Freshmen liked it. It also allowed you to override the case when another fraternity forgot to check a freshman back in. Later in Rush, when we knew the names of the freshmen, it was easier to type in their names than to scan their IDs,” he wrote in an email.

“There were no privacy concerns as far as I could tell,” Hoch added.

For the first time, the IFC also offered a Rush-centered smartphone application. The app, which is available for iPhone and Android users, displays the locations of each fraternity, the scheduled events at each house, and the entire Rush schedule among all the fraternities.

This year, the IFC will distribute a survey to gather data about people who went through Rush. The IFC wants to learn more about their experiences and opinions, and gather suggestions for improvement, said Wintrob. This is a departure from previous years, when the IFC only polled rush chairmen.

Wintrob said that rush was “safe and effective” this year, although there were a few minor violations of rush rules. “The IFC coordinates alcohol inspections among the different houses to ensure that the recruitment period is dry. There is considerable buy-in from the fraternity community and we did not encounter any serious problems,” he said.

This year, “there were only minor updates to the recruitment rules,” he added.

Rush changed minds

International student and Sigma Nu pledge Rafael P. Gazzin ’15 said that he liked IFC rush more than REX. “The frat rush was better because you spent time with the guys everyday to get know the people better. … Most of the fraternities have really nice houses. They took us to more sophisticated events like shows, dinners, and baseball.”

Before pledging, Gazzin had not thought about joining a fraternity. “I thought that I would be so happy in my dorm; it’s so close to campus. I don’t know why I would join a fraternity. It’s all about the ‘brotherhood’ [and] jobs. And then I decided that I would give [rush] a chance. It’s free food and free events.”

His mind soon changed. “Ever since I talked with people, joining a fraternity can be really, really good — better than having friends and parties. You have a support system. Really good friends and brothers that can help you when you’re sick … help you with your p-set. I changed my mind completely.”

Matthew J. Hunter ’15, a Zeta Psi pledge, also seemed to enjoy Rush. “The events were really interesting, and it was a good way to show that MIT fraternities aren’t a lot like the stereotypes that you have about fraternities in general. As opposed to just drinking all the time and taking advantage of women, I think that these guys are good people to live with and that I’ll have fun in the coming years.”

But there was a downside. “There’s 26 fraternities, and I had only enough time to visit three of them for an ample amount of time.”