Deferred Madness

Clearly, some colleges/universities just get it, and others don’t. The enlightened institutions among us have realized that the choice to join a fraternity is so profound, so complicated (and possibly so hazardous), that young and impressionable freshmen students should not be rushed into that decision. In fact, the smartest colleges/universities also realize that freshmen students are incapable of critical thinking and decision making, and thus need to be told when they can join a fraternity or sorority. I’m sure these institutions have conducted studies that confirm that a young man or woman’s decision-making skills are only effective and useful starting in the second semester. However, there must be some debate to this question – since some institutions do not allow this decision to be made until the sophomore year. The students they enroll must struggle to even know what kind of cereal to have in the morning!

The smartest of the enlightened institutions of higher education often realize that not only should freshmen wait to join a fraternity or sorority, they should be prevented from even having contact with a fraternity or sorority member until told otherwise. This is obviously because their students have the thinking skills of a gnat who allows itself to be drawn into the scorching death of a bug zapper.

It is most noble of these colleges/universities to look after their young neophytes with care and compassion. They’ve obviously discovered a truth that has been elusive for so many of us – first-semester college freshmen are pretty dumb. They need to be protected from their own stupidity. They cannot make a wise decision, especially when allowed to move at their own pace. So instead, let’s help them by adding structure. Yes – help them – that sounds nice! Let’s give them two weeks of quick meetings, funny slide shows, and fancy brochures. That will clearly allow for more controlled - er - I mean better decision-making.

By the way, this doesn’t apply to other student organizations. Students are free to join them at any time, since they are the kinds of decisions students can make quickly and without any thought.

I’m sure that there is research that proves that deferred recruitment results in greater recruitment numbers, fewer incidents of alcohol and hazing, greater alumni engagement, better academics for the members, and a greater commitment to founding values and principles. Just because I couldn’t find this research anywhere doesn’t mean it’s not there.

I want to thank these enlightened institutions for challenging all of our intuitive ideas and notions of common sense by proving that deferred recruitment is the way to go. Because of the inspiration of their example, I want to challenge them in kind. Since these colleges and universities have the best interests of students in mind, I’m sure they wouldn’t care if we prevented them from making contact with or actively recruiting high school students until the second semester of their senior years. In fact, we’ll just give them two weeks in August to make their case. After all, it’s such a big decision.