"There is a concern that because of the immediacy of the rush experience, students get placed in an organization that may or may not be consistent with their values," director of Student Life and Leadership Stephan Lamb said.
“There is a concern that because of the immediacy of the rush experience, students get placed in an organization that may or may not be consistent with their values,” director of Student Life and Leadership Stephan Lamb said.
“There is a concern that because of the immediacy of the rush experience, students get placed in an organization that may or may not be consistent with their values,” director of Student Life and Leadership Stephan Lamb said.
Laura Pezzini
Restrictions on fraternity recruitment — brought about following the death of Cal Poly freshman Carson Starkey from alcohol poisoning — may be rescinded next year after concerns were raised about unequal treatment of fraternities and sororities.
Since Fall 2010, fraternities have operated under the policy of deferred recruitment, in which students may not join fraternities during the first quarter of their freshman year at Cal Poly. The same restrictions, however, were not placed on sororities.

Director of Student Life and Leadership Stephan Lamb confirmed there are currently conversations occurring about plans to change this system, whether that means removing the deferred recruitment policy for fraternities or changing sorority recruitment to match the policy.

“It doesn’t make sense to have a difference in policy,” Lamb said. “Regardless of what we do, I want to engage students in the dialogue.”

Since the enactment of deferred recruitment for fraternities, the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) has pressured the university to roll back the restrictions. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) supports this position, arguing that deferred recruitment is detrimental to the greek system, according to Lamb.

“(The NIC) believes that open membership is one of the cornerstones of the American experience, and that should not be denied,” Lamb said.

The NIC took a hands-off approach at first to Cal Poly implementing deferred recruitment, but later began asking for the policy to be dropped. Last year, according to IFC president Jason Colombini, the NIC requested the university change the deferred recruitment policy, but no formal proposal was submitted, so no action was taken.

This year, Colombini plans to turn these requests into a reality.

“It’s one of my priorities this year as IFC president and I think it’s really hindering the potential of the greek system,” he said.

Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong was actually one of the first to discuss changing the deferred recruitment policy, Lamb said. He recently expressed to Lamb his wishes to make sorority and fraternity recruitments consistent with each other, though Armstrong did not specify whether he would prefer the abolishment of deferred recruitment or its implementation for sororities.

“He would like to see consistency at Cal Poly and not have it differentiated by gender,” Lamb said.

According to Lamb, the solution must be found this winter to allow enough time for fraternities and sororities to prepare, because the new rules would go into effect for next year’s fall recruitment.

Colombini said he plans on putting together a task force comprised of himself and four other fraternity presidents to help take action on the matter. He has been in contact in the past weeks with the NIC in order to establish a formal proposal to give to the university.

The policy of deferred recruitment was implemented in the wake of the tragedy of Carson Starkey’s death, in the hopes that prohibiting students from rushing during the fall of their freshman year would allow them time to adjust to the college lifestyle.

“There is a concern that because of the immediacy of the rush experience, students get placed in an organization that may or may not be consistent with their values,” Lamb said.

The reasons behind this disparity between fraternity and sorority recruitments are many, but center around the fact that sorority recruitment as a whole has historically been more organized and prescripted by the National Panhellenic Council, according to Lamb.

“Fraternities have a very different culture that surrounds them and they really function as independent organizations without the benefit of this overarching structure,” Lamb said.

Additionally, deferred recruitment is meant to allow freshmen to grow accustomed to college academics before taking on the responsibilities of pledgeship. Colombini argued there is no basis for the claims that fraternity membership leads to lower grades.
“A lot of times you hear about how grades suffer dramatically, that you practically go on academic probation by joining your first quarter, and there’s really no evidence to support that,” he said. “Growth in a fraternity is a path — the longer you’re in it, the better you’ll grow as a person.”
Though freshmen in their first quarter may go to recruitment events, they are not allowed to receive a bid to join any fraternity. Colombini said this fall for rush they have seen some freshmen come out, but most don’t know they are allowed to do so.

“There’s more freshmen not showing up because they don’t realize that you can still go meet people in the fraternities and build that base for winter,” he said.

Cal Poly actually has a history of implementing deferred recruitment and then removing the policy — the policy was applied and then removed in the 1990s, according to Colombini. In that case, Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) issued a statement in support of regular recruitment in 1999. Because no changes have since been made to this statement, it is technically still the official stance of ASI. However, there are no current plans for ASI to become involved.
Students within the greek system have a unique perspective on the matter, since some joined before the deferred enrollment was applied and others had to comply with the restrictions.
“I think a pro of deferred recruitment would be that it gives you the option to make friends outside of fraternity life, but I would definitely like to see it removed,” agribusiness sophomore Ryan Burgunder said. “I think it’d be cool to have freshmen be able to rush fall quarter.”

Join the Conversation


  1. As a member of the Greek community I am not surprised how this article and many others in regards to Greek Life at Cal Poly seem to ignore the third council, united Sorority & Fraternity Council. This council does not have deferred recruitment for first time freshman and actually has 5 fraternities that Freshman can rush and pledge in the Fall. By ignoring this council that is comprised of Cultural based and interest fraternities and sororities it gives a sense that we are not considered “real Greeks.” By creating these articles it sends an idea that freshman men can not join a fraternity fall quarter, hurting our recruitment efforts. The reason that our council is different is that we have a dry pledge process. If a pledge of my fraternity is found to use alcohol or drugs they are dismissed from the process as we find academic achievement, cultural awareness, and true brotherhood above all. This is the main reason that our council was not hurt by the deferred recruitment. I would make sure future articles include who we are and what our small council represents. I do hope Cal Poly can remove this rule sanction on IFC council as a member who belongs to NIC but is in USFC we should all be given the same opportunity. In brotherhood.

    Victor Ramos
    Nu Alpha Kappa Fraternity, Inc.
    Founding Chapter
    Cal Poly State University

  2. “Growth in a fraternity is a path-the longer your in it, the more you’ll grow as a person”

    That’s laughable!!

    How grown up were those upper classmen who encouraged Carson Starkey to drink enough to to die?

    Fraternities and sororities love to sugarcoat their purpose. According to them, they exist to help young men and women transition into adulthood and leadership roles in society!! Last time i checked, The real world is nothing like what goes on in the greek world. The greek world mostly consists of drunken debauchery, judging people for superficial reasons, and trying to fit in so badly that you pay a bunch of money so that you can feel accepted.

    There are a lot of good people in cal polys greek society, but they didnt become good people because of their involvement in greek life. I would love to see drug testing as a requirement for any fraternity or sorority that wishes to be school sanctioned. It’d be interesting to see the results! Haha

    1. To Sam:

      I love how you generalize all Greeks with one picture. No two organizations are the same and no two individuals are the same. What happened to Starkey was a tragedy but I do not expect your narrow minded reflection of the Greek system to understand who we are and what we believe in. There are drug and alcohol requirements for some Fraternities and Sororities, but you obviously failed to read my first response. Before you make any future post I would fact check. Something so little people like yourself fail to do.

      You make it seem like the only people who party and drink are Greeks when in reality the majority of College students do that on their own or with clubs and other organizations. The only difference is that we have letters across our chest and society seem to love to picture us in bad nature. It is sad that one wrong action by a few individuals overshadow all the good the Greek system does for the community. But then again I wouldn’t expect you to understand that either.

      Fact check, Don’t generalize, and open your mind.

  3. Victor-

    it is not my obligation to read your response, as i was responding to the article, not you. So you can’t fault me for not reading your first response.

    I agree with you that not all fraternities and sororities are bad, and it’s my fault for not stating that in my first response. There are good greek organizations, but i believe that for every good one, there is at least one bad one.

    Some of the most obnoxious behavior that happens in the college environment is the result of these bad greek organizations. They are the ones who give you all the stigma of being jackasses.

    Your right, those letters across your chest are the reason that you guys are pictured in a different way, because you represent an organization, an organization which claims to build leaders and help the community. So when members of said organizations act in foolish ways, it reflects negatively on the whole group. If i go out and drink myself stupid, and get arrested, that is me making a fool of myself because of my own bad decisions, but when a greek organization promotes behaviors which are equally bad, it reflects poorly on the whole organization. I mean if a group claims to be helping students grow, it would seem hypocritic if they also promote destructive activities?

    As for my statement on drug testing as a requirement, there are currently no school drug testing policies for greek involvement, so i didnt make any false statement. My statement was that i think that it should be a school mandate for every member of the cal poly sactioned greek society to be drug tested. Assuming that our future leaders aren’t doing any drugs, this shouldnt bother you right? Except you and i both know that a decent percentage of the involved students would have trouble passing.

    I guess to sum it up, the main point i am trying to present is that students will grow into productive members of society with or without greek involvement, being involved in the greek society doesnt make you better than anybody else! You may feel better about yourself because you are part of a group, but in reality, growing into a leader is something that you do individually as a person, not because you are part of a club!

    1. Sounds like Sir is just a fraternity brother who is upset that somebody pointed out the legitimate flaws in their system.

      I have never even attempted to join any sort of Greek organization. I think it’s funny that just because we have different opinions, you jump to the conclusion that I must have been rejected from a fraternity. Some people are going to like you, and some people aren’t, that’s just the way life goes!

  4. There are many logical fallacies in this article. First I’d like to point out that the Carson Starkey alcohol poisoning tragedy is a polarization and extreme example of fraternities. Not all fraternities force their new recruitment to drink. This is merely pointing out an extreme case, which was very unfortunate, that was a rare occasion. It is also a hasty generalization to say that all fraternities are bad because of this, it is a small sample size and so it’d be unfair to rush to such a harsh conclusion. However, that support fraternities have fallacies as well. “A lot of times you hear about how grades suffer dramatically, that you practically go on academic probation by joining your first quarter, there’s really no evidence to support that.” In response to this quote, I know many people whose grade have dropped because they’ve joined, is that not evidence? “Growth in a fraternity is a path—the longer you’re in it, the better you’ll grow as a person.” This is a non sequitar, there is no evidence that fraternities make you a better person, I’m sure there’s evidence for and against this.

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