Even though Delta Phi Alpha and Eta Prime are off-campus fraternities this year, leaders said the groups are up to the challenge of recruiting a pledge class-and they have the numbers to prove it.
Amidst University concerns, Delta Phi Alpha and Eta Prime-formerly Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Kappa Sigma fraternities, respectively-are conducting recruitment as they have done previously and are following a schedule similar to that of on-campus fraternities in the Interfraternity Council.
Members of the off-campus fraternities said the current number of potential new members is similar to the number that rushed their groups in the past.
"We're observing the shorter rush period.... We want to make things as comfortable and as easy as possible for the freshmen themselves," said Mark Boyd, president of Eta Prime. "It's not fair to be demanding bids back before the IFC gives them out. If we play fair ball with the IFC fraternities... both of us can be successful."
Delta Phi Alpha President Will Brown, a senior, agreed. "I would say it's been pretty on par with previous years.... Around 100 people," he said. "There's also a lot of guys who didn't really come to the formal sign-ups."
Despite promising rush numbers, administrators are strongly advising freshmen against rushing off-campus fraternities.
Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, called the fraternities' decision to move off-campus "romantic escapism" and cautioned students to think carefully before deciding to join an off-campus fraternity.
"Don't waste your time. Don't make a foolish decision based on superficial attributes," Moneta said. "They'll continue to be around for a while, but they can do damage."
Delta Phi Alpha Rush Chair Charlie Yardley said he believes Moneta is not qualified to discuss his off-campus fraternity.
"I find it interesting how Larry Moneta would comment about our organization and call it superficial given... the fact that he's not a member of our organization," said Yardley, a senior. "He's an administrator at this school."
Members of the off-campus fraternities said they are viable greek groups and believe they can even attract stronger classes by organizing off-campus.
"We're very pleased with the turnout we've gotten so far," said Boyd, a junior. "Overall I met more quality boys per capita this year than last year."
Sue Wasiolek, dean of students and assistant vice president for student affairs, said she believes off-campus fraternities will not be able to maintain their organizations and said potential new members could be disillusioned by joining an off-campus fraternity.
"The past 30 years suggest that this configuration will not be able to sustain itself," said Wasiolek, who has been at the University nearly continuously since the early 1970s. "I worry about those young men who are attracted to this and find down the road that it fizzles."
Yardley said the social life three decades ago at the University is not indicative of the current social climate and said off-campus fraternities are a new phenomena. "It's a whole new social environment right now," he said. "Now things are different, and the Duke social environment is now adapting to that change."
The off-campus fraternity brothers said they are adjusting to this altered social scene by hosting parties in their off-campus houses or in nearby bars, which provide larger, more open spaces that they say promote interaction better than crowded dormitory or commons rooms.
"Social life taking place off campus is an impetus that started from the administration. We're responding to that in a rational way," Boyd said. "We don't need a social life centered on campus when [the administration is] not allowing us to do it in a reasonable manner."
Brothers in Eta Prime and Delta Phi Alpha said they believe they can preserve their longevity and are cooperating to strengthen their organizations. They decided to follow similar rush schedules, though they will host their events separately.
"We're coordinating with [the former members of] SAE for the big nights. If they take Friday, we'll take Saturday for financial reasons and not wanting to get the kids burned out," Boyd said. "We consulted [the members of Delta Phi Alpha] pretty extensively before rush and established a schedule."
Delta Phi Alpha brings experience to creating a pledge class as an off-campus fraternity because its members decided to dissolve during rush last year. Under those circumstances, it attracted 21 freshmen to the group.
Brown said Delta Phi Alpha's main goal during recruitment is to show freshmen the benefits of an off-campus fraternity and to allow them to decide if they want to join.
"We are hoping [the potential members] will see for themselves and see that it's fun. They can do a lot more things off-campus. They're just a closer group of guys," Brown said. "We're not trying to convince them that off-campus fraternities are in some way superior. We hope that they see that for themselves."
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.