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Online registration, off-campus groups alter rush

Pi Kappa Alpha erupted its peak, Sigma Nu toasted in its new year and Delta Sigma Phi boogied the night away. With last weekend's annual theme parties, recruitment for Interfraternity Council fraternities is well underway - only a little different from previous years.

Recruitment was officially launched in early January when the fraternities hosted open houses. IFC officials said the number of potential members who signed up both online and in person is comparable to the past, but final statistics will not be available until the first week of February, after bids are distributed.

"It's right at 500 people, which is within plus or minus a dozen from last year," said IFC President Jeremy Morgan. "We had people sign up online, and a lot of people who went to open houses that didn't sign-up online. We had people sign-up online... [if they hadn't signed-up online previously]."

Some fraternity presidents said, however, that they have seen more students rush this year.

"Our numbers are up considerably," said Elliot Silver, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, which will have housing for the first time next year. "We tried really hard in the fall to do lot of programming to get our name out there in a constructive manner."

This was the first year students could sign up electronically, but many mistakenly believed signing-up online meant they did not have to attend the open houses.

"There are a few kinks that need to be ironed out. There was questions of once they had signed up online, they thought they did not need to come to open houses," said Theta Chi President Joel Yancey. "But you still needed to so the fraternity could know for more certain who they had."

Fraternity leaders agreed students would not be penalized if they missed the open houses.

"If a guy signed up online, we'd recognize that they still want to rush [even if they did] not go to section sign-ups," said Carlton Fleming, president of Kappa Alpha Order, adding that they had 230 students sign-up. "It's a result of being the first year."

Potential fraternity members this year are choosing between rushing distinctly on- and off-campus fraternities, and most fraternity leaders agreed many freshmen are interested in both types of fraternities.

"The people we are cross-rushing with has stayed the same. We always cross rush with other fraternities, [namely the former] SAE and Kappa Sig," said Joe Elliott, president of Delta Sig. "The off-campus phenomena hasn't changed anything."

Other fraternity leaders said the objective of IFC rush is not to show the strength of on-campus fraternities and the weakness off-campus fraternities but rather to show the merits of fraternity life and brotherhood.

As on-campus fraternities attempt to attract potential members, presidents said their fraternities boast residential living environments where brothers can interact with students from different academic years and can fulfill the newly-enforced three-year on-campus mandate for all undergraduates.

"One thing that our whole fraternity really prides itself on is having a section and common living space," said Dave Brisske, president of Sigma Nu. "We're not discouraging rushees from rushing off-campus fraternities, but we're stressing the on-campus aspect by having them spend time in section and seeing the benefits it has to offer."

Others said off-campus fraternity members lose an essence of being in a fraternity without official University housing.

"It doesn't matter how big your off-campus house is. You can't fit all your guys in it," said Fleming, a senior. "Most of the guys in KA put a lot of emphasis on being able to bring your lunch home from class and lounge around [in section] together.... You can always find a place to hang out."

Fraternity brothers also said the ability to have section parties distinguishes them in another way from off-campus fraternities. Although regulated and monitored, they said section parties offer many positive aspects.

"Anyone can show up, you don't have to worry about drinking and driving, or the real police coming," Fleming said. "While they say the administration is totally cracking down on us, it's better to deal with the Duke police than the Durham police. There are insurance policies that can protect us if things go wrong. Off-campus fraternities could be liable."

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