Theme #4 Report
Theme #4: We will enhance the reputation of our community
With Theme 4, the decision was made to prioritize initiatives 4.1 and 4.2 and focus on 1) an evaluation of current FSILG recruitment programs and 2) the impact of recruitment on the “big picture” of MIT’s first year experience. The reason for this prioritization is the annual criticism that recruitment–especially fraternity Rush–receives from faculty, administration, and even students. We fear that this criticism will get loud enough that rapid change will be forced upon the communities that does not solve any fundamental problems and may create new ones. Thus, Theme 4 emphasized 4.1 and 4.2 so we can appropriately improve our own practices lest a decision is made externally.
Theme #4 Initiatives:
- Initiative #4.1: Make the recruitment program more effective and efficient, especially with regard to its cost, timing, and stress on participants, and dissemination of information about member groups to potential members
- Initiative #4.2: Engage with MIT on ways to better integrate the recruitment program and FSILG membership with MIT’s First-Year Experience program
- Initiative #4.3: Develop tools to better inform the community of the positive aspects of FSILG membership
- Initiative #4.4: Develop tools to assist our member groups to perform more outreach to parent
What has been accomplished: Those working on Theme 4 realized that in order to perform the best analysis of recruitment efficiency and its effect on the freshman year, data collection absolutely has to come first. Without this step there is no factual basis for any changes, and to make an impulsive decision without evidence could significantly damage our chapters. Thus, the theme’s goal is to collect and analyze data and have that speak for itself. To kick off this study a white paper was drafted to lay out a) recruitment-related information available at the current time, and b) information needed to complete any analysis. Information presently available includes the number of new members at the end of fall recruitment and retention rate (measured by how many new members move into their FSILGs the following year, when applicable). Information required is generally more difficult to obtain, such as recruitment practices at peer schools, change in perception from new member to initiate, Rush budgets, and perceptions of the faculty.
The first organized attempt at collecting this data occurred in Fall 2013, when both the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils administered post-recruitment surveys to the undergraduates covering the aforementioned topics and more. Then, in January 2014, a SWOT exercise was performed at the Strategic Plan review. The goal was to get feedback from various members of the FSILG community on recruitment and how it can mature.
Panhel has already made an effort to address one of Sorority’s Recruitment’s largest points of contention: namely, that it distracts women from visiting their advisors on Registration Day. In Fall 2014, Recruitment will begin on Saturday–as opposed to Sunday–and end the day before Reg Day begins.
What was dropped: Although the Theme 4 statement is very general in referring to “[enhancing] the reputation” of our community, those working on the theme identified initiatives 4.1–making recruitment more effective and efficient–and 4.2–better integrating recruitment and its aftermath with MIT’s first year experience–as the most pressing to address for the reasons previously mentioned. As such, 4.3 and 4.4, both concerned with marketing the FSILG community, were pushed out of focus. That being said, it is highly likely that that ultimate result of the data collection and study that follows will still address how the community can better present itself to the Institute, nearby municipalities, and families of our members.
What work is continuing: The white paper outlining the data required is in its final stages with an expected completion by the middle of April. It will be distributed to the FSILG community and relevant persons at MIT. Then the final study can begin, which will start with processing the results from the IFC and Panhel surveys.
To diversity the nature of the feedback, the Theme 4 organizers will work with the undergraduate councils to hold focus groups with freshmen members; if successful the exercise will be repeated with upperclassmen and alumni.
Panhel and IFC will also jointly reach out to the faculty. The common knowledge is that the faculty has reservations towards recruitment every year, but we know very little about what and why. The councils plan on surveying this group to better understand their opinions and hopefully dispel any misconceptions.
It goes without saying that completing this study adequately will take a significant amount of effort. The hope is that the release of the white paper will energize the community and help bring forth volunteers.
What emerging needs were identified: The continuing Theme 4 team requests that it is, at a minimum, included in any DSL-sponsored recruitment task force should one be created in the future.