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The Way It Should Be: By the numbers


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Dan McGuire
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By Dan McGuire
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 2, 2004
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Fraternity rush, the archetype of superficiality and bad taste that consumes nearly 15 percent of our student body, is upon us. Rush is also the treasured time in a man's life where he's judged strictly by the numbers - he can drink 12 beers, score 25 points and pick up three girls in a night, and could bench press 220 pounds in high school.

To the greek system, numbers mean something. Their manipulation makes up a scale on which to determine a student's proper placement among the campus elite.

This scale, which I affectionately refer to as the FRI (Fraternity Rush Index), measures a student's potential in each individual fraternity. Daringly mathematical and dangerously complicated, the FRI is not an easy calculation by any means, but I'd like to give you a glimpse of the method. Here's how the formula works:

  • A student can drink nine beers in a night (value = 9) and hook up with four girls at a party (value = 4), and was a star athlete and homecoming king at his high school (value = 3). You multiply those values to get his CPS, or the Coolness Potential Score. In this student's case, his CPS is 108.

  • In order to calculate the FRI, however, you must divide the CPS by the number of semesters the student might be able to earn a 3.0 or higher grade point average (max value = 8 semesters). Our example student, whose semester GPA potential is a 2, earns an FRI of 54. The higher the GPA, the lower the FRI.

    For most fraternities, the higher the FRI a student has the better. This gives beer, girls and high-school status more weight than academic or personal betterment.

    However, the beauty of the FRI is its versatility in a similar manner to that of the designated-hitter rule in the American League, certain fraternities can substitute their own chapter-specific categories into the equation. For instance, some houses may choose to remove the girl value and replace it with an "hours of computer games" value.

    The genius of the system is that it naturally herds fraternity men into their respective social groups. How else can we explain why certain houses are composed of has-been high school jocks, some of girl-abusers and still others of well-balanced, successful gentlemen?

    Every now and then, the FRI fails, accounting for the occasional nice guy in a house of jerks or non-drinker in the "wasted" fraternity, but for the most part, its success is undeniable.

    Sure, there are personal characteristics that aren't measured, such as personal morality, drive, ambition, accountability and willingness to help others, but the FRI needn't be worried by such inconsequential factors.

    Don't you want to join?

    Is that how fraternity rush is? No, of course not. However, most people would be surprised at the methods used to select future members of a fraternity.

    Some fraternities don't care who they invite. They do what is called "blanket bidding:" inviting high numbers of men to join with the intention of weeding them out through a semester of pressure, intimidation and hazing.

    Other, more superficial fraternities prioritize style over substance in their selection processes and lack brotherhood and true friendship. They center their relationships on status, rather than chemistry.

    Most people would agree that fraternities and sororities choose their members primarily on image and class, and for the most part, it's true. But, in defense of greek recruitment, ask yourself this: "How well can you really get to know anyone in just a few hours for just a few days?" That's why fraternities have pledge semesters.

    Aside from hazing, many students leave fraternities while pledging simply because they realize that they don't fit in with the guys. So, in a way, recruitment is a semester-long process, filled with tests, standards and experiences that allow chapters to determine the worthiness of an individual to join their organization.

    Fraternities are not simple clubs. Not everyone can join one. But when the time comes to choose those who will carry on your traditions, learn your values and quite frankly, be your friends for years to come, rush seems much more important.

    Rush is the time when every man is judged by the numbers. How many have come before you, how many will come after you and how many depend on you now?

    As a member of Beta Theta Pi, I know the importance of carrying on a tradition, of finding gentlemen that will aide the betterment of the chapter, the community, and all of our members. We choose on quality, rather than quantity.

    I guess numbers aren't such a bad thing.

    Dan McGuire is a political science and journalism senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.



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