Appendix F

10/17/17

SENATE COMMITTEE ON STUDENT LIFE

Endorsement of Deferred Rush for Fraternities and Sororities

(Advisory/Consultative)

Implementation: Upon Approval by the President

Introduction and Rationale

Catalyzed by the recent death of student Timothy Piazza and the continued problems with misconduct, hazing and alcohol abuse associated with fraternity and sorority life, on June 2, 2017, Penn State’s Board of Trustees supported a comprehensive set of new University initiatives. These new measures focus on reforming the current culture of Greek-letter community life at Penn State, with particular attention on the safety and well-being of students at the University.  In particular, the new measures focus on intensified social restrictions, accountability practices, and education.

In an effort to independently evaluate the reform proposals, The Student Life Committee asked the Office of Student Affairs for performance information concerning the policy of deferring recruitment of new fraternity and sorority members (rush) for one semester.  Previously, entering freshmen could be recruited in their first semester.

Data collected at University Park during the period from Fall 2007 to Fall 2014 demonstrates that “men who join a fraternity in their first year significantly underperform compared to their expected first-year GPA, whereas men who never join, or join after their first year, perform more closely to their expected first-year GPA.”

For women, the story is a bit different from men.  “Differences between expected and actual first-year GPA are essentially the same whether they never join a sorority or join in their first year.  On average, women who join after their first year, outperform their expected GPA compared to those that never join or join in their first year.”

As with any social scientific question, it is difficult to definitively prove that participating in early recruitment causes a decline in GPA, as the decision to defer rush is correlated with other factors. The preponderance of the evidence suggests that delaying rush will, in all probability, have a positive impact on student academic performance.

Accordingly, the preliminary evidence justifies the initiative to delay recruitment of new members.

Recommendation

The University administration should continue efforts to defer recruitment for fraternity and sorority membership, defining eligibility requirements as follows:

“Full-time enrolled students who have already earned 14 credit hours at Penn State and meet a minimum 2.5 GPA are eligible to participate. New Member Education lasts up to six weeks (was up to 12 weeks previously).”

This report was approved by a Student Life Committee vote of 10 to approve and one abstention.

SENATE COMMITTEE ON STUDENT LIFE

  • Hunter Debellis
  • Kevin Harwell, Chair
  • Katie Jordan
  • Matthew Kaag
  • Andrey Krasilnikov
  • Mathew Kurian
  • Martha Levine
  • Mary Miles
  • Sudarshan Nelatury
  • Brianne Pragg
  • Kevin Reuning
  • Ira Ropson, Vice Chair
  • Ling Rothrock
  • Damon Sims