Unfortunately, some chapters choose not to participate in summer recruitment, and many more do not participate in it to the fullest degree. They feel that the recruits that they want will come to them once the fall semester comes around, or that the summer time is meant purely for relaxation and trips to the beach. The truth, though, is that the summer season is prime time for prospecting and recruiting new members. Just because classes may not be in session does not mean that your recruitment committee should not be building your chapter’s future.
So why is summer recruitment such a good idea? First and foremost, you have an opportunity to make friends with potential rushees before they ever even set foot in a classroom or register for formal recruitment. If you don’t think that incoming students, particularly freshmen, aren’t chomping at the bit to dive into their college experience, you’re sadly mistaken. There’s no reason that you can’t gain full commitment from a recruit to join Pi Kappa Alpha before the first day of classes. Regardless of restrictions on rush events, giving out bids, or school schedule, there is no reason you can’t bring a significant number of recruits into your inner circle of friends during the summer months.
Most students (though not all) do not have classes, homework assignments, or projects to work on during the summer. There are no football games, basketball games, or study hours. The schedule is wide open for your chapter members to network with other students and make new friends.
If your campus has a formal recruitment system, where all fraternities can count on a significant amount of rushees to come to them during the rush week, then this is only more of a reason to utilize a summer rush program, especially if the other fraternities are used to letting the recruits come to them. Imagine how good you would feel, if on the first day of formal recruitment, you could look into the crowd and spot 20 or more men that you already know will absolutely sign with PIKE. Beyond that, think of how this would affect the other rushees. Don’t you think that they would be more likely to rush PIKE if they saw a large group of their compatriots already gung ho about joining before rush even began? You can bet they would.
To put it plainly one more time, summer recruitment is an incredible opportunity for your chapter, and can determine whether you spend the rest of your year in the winner’s circle, or in the pits wondering what could have been.
Types of Summer Recruitment
The message is clear: we need to be participating in summer recruitment. Yet this term can mean many things on different campuses. Let’s explore what types of summer recruitment exist, and what this terminology can mean.
Just about every school in North America has at least a couple sessions during the summer where new students become acquainted with their campus. No matter what the format is, PIKE needs to have a strong presence at these orientations. Who better to help new students familiarize themselves with their new surroundings than some of the campus’ most well-rounded student leaders? You can set up tables in strategic spots around campus, hand out campus maps, or just hang out and throw a football or frisbee in a high-profile area. Even if you just have a few members walking around campus, showing students how to find certain buildings, this is a great opportunity to make contacts and meet recruits.
For those universities that have abundant campus housing, there are often organized dorm move-in dates. By signing up through the appropriate campus office (or possibly just showing up at the appropriate time), you can help new students transport their belongings and move into their dorm. Not only is a good service to your campus, but it is another fantastic way to meet potential members. Perhaps you can even encourage all members to show up in a PIKE t-shirt in order to create positive public relations at the same time.
Summer Rush Events
Rush events should not be restricted to the beginning of the fall or spring semester. In subscribing to the year-round recruitment philosophy, we can all agree that summer is a highly appropriate time to host events. While following the same guidelines set forth in the Rush Event Captain section of this handbook, it may be wise to center these events on preexisting school events. For example, since you know that many new students will be on campus during a summer orientation, this would be a wise time to host a rush event. A less obvious example may be to host a rush event when athletic recruiters are bringing high school athletes to campus. Not only are you doing your part to help recruit athletes to come to your university, but you are firmly placing Pi Kappa Alpha in their minds as a positive environment for them to take part in.
A more in-depth and somewhat sophisticated form of summer recruitment is commonly known as regional recruitment. This is the most advanced level of summer recruitment.
Regional recruitment focuses on strategic geographic areas where higher concentrations of potential recruits exist. The summer recruitment captain appoints an area director for each of these locations who will be directly responsible for the recruitment of men in their area. On commuter or metropolitan campuses, area chairmen can be appointed for various high schools from which students are drawn, while on the large state campuses, chairmen can be selected for the key cities in the different parts of the state. Private schools present a somewhat more difficult situation, but inevitably there are a few new students enrolling from some of the brothers' hometowns. The function of the area chairmen becomes a microcosm of the chapter chairman. It is their responsibility to motivate the brothers in their area to determine who are the outstanding recruits and then become friends with these recruits. Each area chairman should make an effort, along with other brothers, to personally visit all the incoming students in his area.
If your situation permits, obtain a list of incoming freshmen. This list is then broken down geographically and distributed to the area directors. They are then instructed to write or call all freshmen in their area and follow up with a personal visit. Remember: a personal visit is infinitely more effective than a mailing or phone call. Gear the visit toward answering questions about the college first, and then drift into talk of fraternities and Pi Kappa Alpha. Have rush materials and facts and figures on hand to leave with the student. If possible, it is a good idea to include parents in the discussion; they usually ask more questions. Visits may be followed up with personal letters from the Chapter President to both the student and parents.
After a majority of the incoming students have been personally contacted, a couple of recruitment functions should be scheduled by the area chairmen with whom the brothers and outstanding rushees in the vicinity can become better acquainted. These recruitment functions are most successful when they are informal, and may include things such as cookouts, raft trips, water skiing, tennis, golf, picnics, or skeet shooting. Functions of this variety offer the recruit a chance to get to know several members of the chapter well enough that he begins feeling comfortable about the chapter.
The summer recruitment captain should also arrange one or two all-chapter functions at the campus or house during the summer, where most of the brothers can attend and bring top recruits from their respective areas. A function of this type makes it convenient for the recruit to meet most of the brothers; while at the same time, it allows the members to get a good preview of many potential members. At some campuses with open recruitment, some of the recruits can be approved for membership at a large summer rush function. A major summer recruitment function may be a pig roast, softball game, golf tournament, shrimp boil party or trip to the beach.
Some chapters use what is called the "50-man concept” (the number may vary according to the chapter's plans). The summer recruitment captain compiles a list during the course of the summer (or during the fall if the chapter is on deferred recruitment) of the top 50 recruitment prospects – also known as blue chip recruits. These names are accumulated from the area directors and brothers and represent the best candidates for membership in Pi Kappa Alpha. The entire chapter makes a concerted effort to get these 50 men to all fraternity events, so that the recruit is familiar with the chapter and has resolved any hesitancy about joining. An organized chapter that concentrates on 50 men during the summer should have at least 30 of those men wearing PIKE new member pins in the fall.
Area Director Responsibilities
- Organize and carry out an area recruitment program and social functions.
- Maintain database on area recruits.
- Make personal visits to top recruits and their parents.
- Coordinate other brothers in the area to assist you.
- Provide recruits with rides to summer and fall functions.
- Report progress to the summer recruitment captain weekly.
For a sample summer recruitment schedule, check out page 79 of the recruitment handbook.
Jarrett M. WayDirector of Educational Content & Strategy