Tilghman approves proposed rush ban policy
President Shirley Tilghman has endorsed the recommendations made by the Committee on Freshmen Rush Policy, the University announced Tuesday morning. Accordingly, the recommendations by the committee — the suspension of any freshman who affiliates with a fraternity or sorority or of any sophomore, junior or senior who conducts a form of freshman rush — will be implemented effective Sept. 1.
In the report outlining its recommendations released on March 25, the committee said it decided on the punishment of suspension in order to create an effective deterrent to students considering violating the policy.
"In my view, the committee's recommendations are clear, thoughtful, fair and comprehensive in identifying prohibited activities and in describing the consequences that students would face for any violation of the policy,” Tilghman said in Tuesday’s announcement.
Tilghman made two modifications to the committee’s proposed wording of the policy in Rights, Rules and Responsibilities. She added a statement clarifying that sophomores, juniors and seniors are prohibited from all forms of solicitation of freshmen to join fraternities or sororities, including solicitation by electronic means.
She also added a clause clarifying that this policy applies only to organizations to which any Princeton student is able to join, and does not apply to any organization at another institution whose membership is not open to Princeton students.
Last month’s report defined fraternities and sororities for the purposes of the policy as exclusive organizations with a primarily social function. This description accounts for the possibility that some Greek organizations — which are not recognized by the University administration and do not have houses on campus — may drop their national affiliations in an attempt to evade the policy.
This definition excluded all organizations recognized by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, since all registered student groups with a primarily social purpose are non-exclusive and the groups that are exclusive — such as a cappella groups — have a main focus other than socializing and select students based on talent or merit, the report said.
In addition to banning freshmen rush, pledging and affiliation, the policy will also prohibit freshmen attendance at any fraternity- or sorority-sponsored event. In particular, sophomores, juniors and seniors will not be permitted to bring freshmen of any gender to formal and semiformal events as dates.
But beyond formal events, the definition of a Greek-sponsored event remains relatively ambiguous. Though the committee focused most of its efforts on events that fall “in the middle of the spectrum” between casual conversations — which, the report emphasized, are permitted — and affiliation — which is not — many fraternity and sorority members expressed concern about the perceived lack of clarity in terms of what exactly constitutes a Greek-sponsored event.
The report stated that while social interactions between fraternity or sorority members and freshmen would not inherently be considered a violation of the policy, indications of sponsorship by a Greek organization included “an invitation to participants on behalf of a fraternity or sorority; the use of fraternity or sorority funds to support the activity; or an announcement or other explicit identification of fraternity or sorority sponsorship.”
Nevertheless, many students expressed concern about the perceived ambiguity during an open forum held on April 2 where students gave the committee feedback on the policy. Some students expressed fear that the University was looking to exploit the unclear line between casual social interactions and Greek-sponsored events in order to create rush ban violations.
Others said the policy was ripe with potential for discrimination against affiliated students and overreach into students’ personal lives.
At the meeting, Dean of Undergraduate Students and Committee Chair Kathleen Deignan sought to assuage these concerns by noting that she will not be looking to bring cases against Greek-affiliated students and hopes not to go before the disciplinary committee due to a violation of this policy.
Former Alpha Epsilon Pi president and committee member Jake Nebel ’13 said at the meeting that students affiliated with Greek life expressing fear of casually interacting with freshmen were acting “paranoid.”
Hanging over the entire discussion was the implication in the report that if there is not widespread compliance with the policy next year, the University will consider banning fraternities and sororities altogether. Students concerned with the potential for overreach in this policy worried that the University would seek to find violations next year in order to justify a future further prohibition on sophomore, junior and senior affiliation.
Tilghman said in the announcement that she was pleased with the feedback students had provided on the policy in the four weeks since the report’s initial release.
"I am deeply appreciative of the excellent work of the committee, and of the comments on the report that have been provided over the past four weeks in meetings and through the campus life website," Tilghman said.
Deignan’s office will create an Frequently Asked Questions section on its website to address common concerns about the policy and will also provide contact information for administrators whom students can contact if they have questions about the policy.