Deferred rush, which bans freshman males from rushing any fraternity until winter quarter of their first year, may soon change. Administration and several student groups are in discussions to come to a compromise on the policy’s future, which was first enacted in 2010.
The policy was a reaction to the 2008 hazing incident that left 18-year-old freshman Carson Starkey dead from alcohol poisoning, Fraternity and Sorority Life coordinator Diego Silva said. At that time, it was decided that a deferred rush for campus fraternities would help encourage safer greek life.
“I think Carson Starkey passing away definitely caused the university to rethink their role with fraternities and sororities on this campus,” Silva said, “and in the long run to create the best possible environment we can for our students.”
The deferment, which has been in effect for three rush cycles now, is an attempt by the administration to give freshmen more time to adjust to the college life while simultaneously protecting their health and safety, Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey said.
“Deferred rush provides the ability for someone to mature into their identity as a college student and be less likely to make high risk decisions to impress a group,” Humphrey said. “There are hundreds of other organizations that students can become affiliated with on campus.”
The policy has created some controversy among Cal Poly fraternities, however, because it can hinder matriculation for freshmen into fraternity life. In addition, freshmen who may seek leadership roles within their new house miss the chance to run for a position their first year because of deferred rush, business administration junior and Theta Chi fraternity member Cameron Randa said.
“Some fraternities are on a yearly schedule and some are on an academic schedule and this helps determine when fraternities decide to hold elections,” Randa said. “If it is between the end of fall or during winter, the freshmen miss out and are unable to run for a position.”
Randa also said he doesn’t think all fraternities should take the fall for one’s bad decision.
“The policy was put into place in response to (Starkey’s) death, but it doesn’t seem fair to me, just because one fraternity didn’t practice appropriate risk management,” Randa said.
The various opinions aside, student life and leadership, fraternity presidents and the Interfraternity Council (IFC) are working toward a solution acceptable to all involved parties, according to IFC President and ASI presidential candidate Jason Colombini.
“Now we are in the third year (of deferred rush), and we are hoping that with the way the IFC has been moving, and the direction and change in the atmosphere of greek life, (that this) is the direction the administration wants to see in order to come to that compromise,” said Colombini, an agribusiness junior.
The compromise will not only be between the administration and greek life, but also between the different fraternities, Humphrey said. While each of the fraternities and administration unanimously agree on abolishing the policy, they all have different ideas surrounding the best way to do this, Humphrey said.
Though the administration will come to a decision on deferred rush within the coming months, any new policy change will take two or three years to implement fully, Humphrey said.
To help out, some fraternities have volunteered to test out potential policies.
One possible compromise is a delayed recruitment, which would allow fraternities to begin recruiting in week four or five of fall quarter, an intermediary between the old policy of recruiting during week two of fall quarter and the current policy of deferred rush, Colombini said.
Though there is current uncertainty with where the policy reform is headed, Humphrey said it is important for students to get involved with organizations on campus, including greek life.