Hello! My name is Terence Burke and I am a junior in Cornell’s Arts and Sciences College studying Economics and Classics and I am the IFC's Vice President of Recruitment.
When I first considered joining a fraternity, my parents were very unfamiliar with Greek life, and naturally had a ton of questions about what the Greek Community at Cornell is like. They didn’t have much exposure to the community, its benefits, or the processes by which students get involved. Whether you’re unfamiliar like my parents or more knowledgeable about Cornell’s fraternity system, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate the ins and outs of the process and what they could mean for your child.
As the Vice President of Recruitment for the Interfraternity Council, I work closely with students and staff to make the fraternity recruitment process as simple, inclusive, and safe as possible. Much of this requires me to speak with first-year students and their parents about the concerns they may have, so I’ve decided to make available the information that is often helpful in these conversations. Though I’m sure additional questions might arise in the future (and for those you can shoot me an email at email@example.com), I hope this page can be useful to you.
How does recruitment work?
Here in the Cornell IFC, we like to refer to our fraternity recruitment week as a “mutual selection process.” This means that students have the freedom to determine the fraternities with which they interact and the fraternities have the freedom to determine the students they ask to join their membership. Such a system will enable your student to focus his time with groups whose values and characteristics are most attractive to him/her.
That being said, you may be wondering how exactly the process works. Essentially, your student will come to recruitment week, a week before classes start in the Spring Semester, and attend various events that allow him/her to mingle with members of the fraternity community. The main events are:
Meet the Greeks, during which a few representatives from each fraternity fill the Klarman Atrium to meet potential new members and answer questions about their brotherhoods.
Open Houses, during which fraternities open their doors and speak with, provide tours for, and spend time getting to know potential new members
Contacts, during which representatives from the chapters your student decides to visit during open houses drop by your student’s residence to discuss further steps in the recruitment process
Throughout recruitment week, students are encouraged to dress casually and be themselves. At Cornell, there is no dress code or expectations for how students should dress or act!
If your student does not receive a bid from the fraternity of his/her choice, then he/she is encouraged to participate in an abbreviated, relaxed secondary recruitment referred to as "Continuous Open Bidding" in which all the chapters that would like to accept new members after the end of the recruitment period will contact your student and express interest in their membership.
There is no fee for fraternity recruitment, and all members of the Big Red family are encouraged to participate. Involvement is by all means voluntary and your student can choose to end the recruitment process at any time. Your son or daughter can also begin the recruitment process at any time, although it is encouraged that they participate in the entire week.
Cornell is a dry recruitment campus—fraternity members and potential new members are not to consume alcohol at any time, as per IFC policy.
What’s so great about the Cornell fraternity experience?
If you’re here, it’s likely that your student is already interested in joining a fraternity. Before you call them home and ask what’s gotten into them, let me assure you: the Cornell fraternity community is unique, thriving, and admirable.
Because of Cornell’s diversity, fraternities enable students from a myriad of different backgrounds, countries, and cultures to become not only friends, but brothers. Since my decision to join, I’ve made friends from all over the world and visited people in places I never thought I’d go. These sorts of extensive and expansive networks are incredibly difficult to forge outside a system like Greek life at Cornell, so I am more than grateful for the opportunity.
But this isn’t the only reason to go Greek.
As a Cornell student, your son or daughter probably cares a great deal about his/her education. If my firsthand experience has taught me anything, it’s that joining a fraternity can help many students in their pursuit of their academic goals. In fact, the average GPA of students in Cornell fraternities is higher than the average GPA of students outside the Greek community. This might be the case because a number of chapters have formal systems of in-house academic support, from fraternity-wide tutoring programs to textbook libraries.
For me, joining a fraternity came with academic benefits because I suddenly had access to peers and upperclassmen who had previously taken the classes on my schedule. I was able to reach out to them prior to pre-enroll for advice regarding certain classes and professor or even study with them at the dinner table before a Statistics test. No matter what your student’s major, they’re likely to take some number of classes with which at least one member of a given fraternity is familiar.
Whether your student wants to participate in impactful philanthropy events, gain access to academic and cultural resources, or make a set of new lifelong friends, I highly recommend the fraternity community and assure you that your student will benefit significantly should he/she decide to join.
As mentioned earlier, feel free to contact me with any questions you might have at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go Big Red!
Terence Burke, IFC Vice President for Recruitment