With UMBC’s Interfraternity Council’s rush having just ended and Panhellenic Association’s in its early stages, it is clear that there exists a wide gap between the behavioral expectations of IFC and PHA members. This shows not just in the rules applied to fraternity and sorority members, but in the application of those rules.
Though the Greek community has rules to follow at all times, there are more rush-specific rules put in place early in the semester. The placement and enforcement of certain rules varies between PHA and IFC, with PHA’s rules usually being more strict.
While there is nothing wrong with being held to a standard, it is problematic to apply it to only the women in Greek life. It perpetuates the traditional idea that a woman must embody certain characteristics in order to be a “real woman,” while the men in UMBC’s Greek community have few equivalent responsibilities.
One of the main differences in rule enforcement during rush events regards the allowance of alcohol. PHA holds a “strictly dry recruitment: chapter members should not consume or be in the presence of alcohol for the duration of Recruitment,” according to the PHA Formal Recruitment, Spring 2016 Rules. This rule begins 24 hours before the first recruitment event and ends 24 hours following the last event.
While IFC and each chapter’s national headquarters may have a similar rules banning alcohol at rush events, it is common knowledge that fraternity members often drink before their rush events. Even if they are not drinking, their events usually involve drinking-related activities like water pong or flip cup.
Some fraternity members are unclear about whether or not IFC even had any rules regarding rush. One UMBC IFC fraternity member who wished not to be named said, “There are no rules put in place by IFC that I know of. If they are, they aren’t followed.”
A similar lack of knowledge regarding PHA rules is nearly impossible as members are reminded of the rules on almost a weekly basis and more frequently as recruitment gets closer.
Another difference lies in each organization’s ability to promote their organization over others. Fraternity rush promotions can be spotted all over campus in form of flyers, posters, T-shirts and snapchats, each telling students to rush a certain fraternity.
In the spring semester, PHA sororities are forbidden from promoting their specific organization. Instead, they must embrace a unifying message: “Rush PHA.” If a fraternity member, or anyone else on campus mistakenly says to rush a specific PHA sorority, it is up to a sorority member to correct them. However, if a sorority member promotes a specific fraternity during IFC’s rush week, it is not the responsibility of the fraternity to correct her. Instead, the woman is held responsible for her actions.
All of these are just a few of the double standards applied to UMBC’s Greek community. While the PHA woman is expected to be a beacon of class and propriety, the IFC man is held to almost no standard. IFC fraternities hold events like flip cup tournaments, cigar and steak nights, and poker nights, while such behavior would be unacceptable by a PHA organization.
There is nothing wrong with the expectations of PHA women. In fact, in a time when there is so much stigma surrounding the Greek community, it is good to be held to such high standards. Still, if these standards are to exist, they should be applied to everyone in Greek life.