Recruitment, retention rates increase for USI fraternities

Jessie Hellmann

The percentage of USI first time freshmen men who are joining fraternities has tripled from three percent to 9 percent from fall 2010 to fall 2011, according to data released by the university in the fall. Fraternity member retention has increased as well an estimated six percent, said David Stetter, greek life and leadership program adviser.

“This past year we had very intentional marketing,” Stetter said. “I think that really attributes to our success. We sent postcards to every incoming freshman.”

He said the recruitment has risen because the Inter Fraternity Council voted to move formal recruitment from the fourth week of school to the second week, when students are more excited about college.

In fall 2010, 68 men joined fraternities, and in fall 2011, 90 men joined fraternities.

When the men join fraternities, they have to go through a “new member period” which ranges from eight to 10 weeks. After this period, the men become full members. Not all men make it, though.

For fall 2011, new member retention was 76 percent, meaning 76 percent of the men who joined fraternities didn’t leave the fraternity.

Retention in fall 2010 was about 70 percent.

To increase retention rates, Stetter said he encouraged the fraternities to be more transparent with new members and let them know what is expected from them, with paying dues and the time commitment.

“Sometimes students don’t know how much it will cost if they join,” Stetter said. “So they have to drop out.”

Tau Kappa Epsilon has the most expensive chapter dues at $395 per semester for new members and $450 a semester for active members, according to the USI website.

Time management is another reason men leave fraternities, Stetter said.

“If you want to look at it in an academic perspective, basically joining a fraternity is adding another course onto your course load,” Stetter said.

Sometimes when a new member has low grades, they will be asked to leave the chapter and return once he improves his grades.

“I know that some chapters, if they get the sense that their new member is a great threat to the cumulative GPA, they will ask them to leave the chapter and encourage them to return once they have their grades figure out,” Stetter said.

Mark Furman, the new member chair for Lambda Chi Alpha, one of the fraternities with the most successful recruitments in the fall, said he looks for men who share the same values as the fraternity when looking for new members.

Furman said the members participated in training before fall recruitment, which is why more men joined the fraternity.

“Recruiting for us, we don’t just come out and say, ‘hey do you want to join our fraternity?’ We want to be their friend first because, no matter what, we can get new friends out of it,” Furman said.

Furman said Lambda Chi Alpha men met a lot of the new members from going to Welcome Week events.

“We went out as a group of brothers and played sand volleyball,” Furman said. “Freshman are always looking for something to do. So they’re just wondering around, and we invite them to play with us.”

Freshman Lambda Chi Alpha member Brenden Davidson said he did not come to USI with the intentions of joining a fraternity, but meeting a few of the brothers and learning about the fraternity’s values sealed the deal.

“It has definitely given me more fulfillment than anything else on campus,” Davidson said.

He said the fraternity combines academics, philanthropies and leadership while other student organizations focus on maybe one or two of those qualities.

“I probably would not have met most of my fraternity brothers had I not joined, and I cannot imagine my life, let alone my college career, without them,” Davidson said.