The Wabash College Class of 2026 will be arriving on campus August 20th for ringing in and with that means fraternity rush will be taking place from August 20 to 24. New students will have the opportunity to visit each fraternity on campus every night of freshman orientation to meet with brothers, engage in events and learn about each house on campus. If a student receives a bid, he has the option to decline, accept, or hold that bid. If a student elects to accept a bid, then he will be moved into the fraternity immediately. Most fraternities at Wabash experienced smaller pledge classes last year in what many consider to be a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, national trends indicate that the recent decline in Wabash College fraternity life is similar to that of fraternity life across the country. “In my opinion, the main challenge we face is the negative perception of Greek life in general,” said Tau Kappa Epsilon Rush Chair Jacob Lawson ’24. “I think this really stems from two different parts that hit on the same note. The first is guys just not knowing what a fraternity/Greek life is coming into Wabash, but also that for a lot of guys what they know about fraternities, or what they think they know, is based on social media, movies, and other campuses. Wabash is a completely different place and culture than anywhere else in America, and our fraternities reflect that. Unlike many other campuses, fraternities at Wabash are not just an excuse to drink on a Tuesday night. At Wabash, the Greek system is built to support and grow the Wabash community and its students. There are many valuable resources that fraternities have to offer, and I don’t think many guys realize that before they begin talking to houses.”
Hazing incidents that have ended in severe injury and sometimes death have led the media to portray fraternities in a negative light, leading potential new members to question why they should join. In 2020, the “Abolish Greek Life” movement became popular across the country and published instances of hazing, discrimination, and sexual assault in fraternities and sororities. While Greek life is seeing national declines, fraternities at Wabash College.
As of May 2022, rush numbers for every fraternity were higher than they were in May 2021. This indicates that incoming students are more open to Greek life than they have been in recent years. “As we head into the fall semester, we’re very optimistic that this will be an up year for our fraternities,” said Inter Fraternal Council President Mason Allen ’23. “ We’re seeing the largest pledge classes within the past four years at Wabash with some houses while others continue to prospect for potential brothers. While we had to adapt to a world with COVID, I believe most of the houses have done a great job at implementing new strategies to make recruitment successful for them.” Fraternities believe that they offer brotherhood, academic excellence, and resources that independent life is unable to replicate.
Historically, Wabash fraternities have had higher GPAs as a whole than independent men.This year, the Wabash College chapter of Phi Gamma Delta won the Jordan Bowl award for best chapter academically in the country. Fraternities also host brotherhood events such as white water rafting, cook outs, and tailgates that boost student morale and develop community, but are exclusive to their brothers.“We look for guys who put themselves out there and are willing to try something different and make new friends,” said Camden Cooper ’24, rush chair at Phi Gamma Delta. “You’ve got to be open and willing to make new friends when you’ll be living with them for four years. If you can find someone who gets along with a variety of the brothers in your house, that’s a great start. We also love it when prospective members come ready to learn, not only about the college experience itself but in the classroom as well.”Starting August 20, fraternities will begin hosting their own rush events.
Tau Kappa Epsilon will be hosting a BBQ day on August 20 for all brothers and prospective students. Phi Gamma Delta will host a similar event called Smoked Meat Mayhem on August 21 that will include brisket, ribs, and pork butt. Sigma Chi and Delta Tau Delta will be hosting casual grill nights to meet the brothers throughout the week. Kappa Sigma is hosting Video Game Night on the August 23 and S’mores Outdoors on August 24. “ The IFC plans to announce the rush events at each house every night for rush week to inform the incoming freshmen class,” said Allen. “We also will be promoting rush during the Fall Club Fair on the 27th with fraternities having tables to talk to potential brothers if they desire to do so. We’re also pushing for all students to explore Wabash’s fraternities, even if they think it might not be for them. Even if members of the class of 2026 decide not to rush, they still get to meet guys they’ll be with for the next four years at Wabash, which is just another asset for them.”
The rush process can be an intimidating venture for new students because of the sudden influx of new people that a prospective member meets. However, most houses recognize this and try to make rush attendees feel comfortable by having casual events for both parties to meet. “I think a normal rush event for us looks like this,” said Cooper. “Every brother at the house down on our main floor and on our front porch hanging out and talking to one another as prospective members come by and join in on a conversation so we can get to know them. We also tend to have some activities like cornhole, a fire pit going, a sports game on our TV, a casual pick-up game of basketball, and tours of the house. Our goal is to talk to and get to know as many prospective students as we can so that their transition into Wabash is as easy and fun for them as possible.”