Skip to content ↓
MIT student blogger Snively '11

The Other Side of Fraternities by Snively '11

What if. . .

I know that the instant I saved this entry as a draft and it showed up as a pencil on the Entries page it was probably red-flagged by half a dozen people. Their brains probably went “NOOOO! Snively’s going to bring the wrath of higher-ups raining down on the admissions office again! He doesn’t possess the self-control to write honestly about a sensitive subject without stepping half the Institvte’s toes!”

Here’s the deal. I’m going to be honest. BUT, I’m also going to try really hard to not make everybody mad at me. If, while reading this, you find yourself

a) Upset
b) Scared about repercussions
c) A member of the MIT faculty
d) Tempted to e-mail Matt McGann and complain

I urge you instead to just e-mail me at snively [at] mit [dot] edu and we’ll discuss content and I’ll go ahead and make changes as needed.

Ok, so, now onto content. For the last week, fraternities have been actively recruiting new pledges during “Rush,” a chance for new freshmen guys to get a chance to meet as many fraternity members as possible and decide whether or not they’d like to live in a fraternity. It’s also a wonderful excuse to go paintballing, F1 racing, eat the obligatory steak and lobster, and throw golf balls attached to some string at a horizontal piece of PVC.

At the end of Rush the fraternities make bids and invite freshmen to join their fraternities. The statistics say that 50% of freshmen guys are members of fraternities. The statistics don’t say that nearly every freshmen male participates in Rush. This is totally expected. In fact, if you don’t do any Rush as a freshman then YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! But, when all of the guys Rush and only approximately 50% get bids (maybe a bit more, accounting for multiple bids to the same person and people refusing bids), you’re left with maybe a little less than 50% who don’t get bids. These are the ones you don’t often hear about. What happens to them?

Paul’s actually not the one to talk about this, because Paul did get a bid and consequently did join a fraternity.

@mom’13, who asked

Hi Snively, unrelated question, but wanted to know a bit about fraternities…how many boys choose not to join one and what do they miss out on. How many get rejected by fraternities and what happens then?

There are couple of things I want to touch on when answering your question. The first is that it’s really frustrating when people tell you to “visit as many fraternities as possible in order to really figure out which one is for you.” Here’s the deal, every time you walk into a fraternity you sign a piece of paper. I can only guess what happens to those lists of names, but I’m pretty sure that you’re a bit more likely to get a bid if you appear on one list 20 times as opposed to 20 lists one time. The amount of time you have to spend with a single fraternity in order to get a bid is almost prohibitive, eliminating time you could be spending with other fraternities. In my experience I found that people found a fraternity on the first day or two of Rush and then just stuck with them the whole time, the people who got bids at least. There are exceptions, of course, but people who “Did Rush right” and visited a bunch of fraternities didn’t get nearly as many bids as those who practically lived at a particular fraternity. A flawed system, but unfortunately, one that doesn’t really have a good solution.

I spent all of my time at a particular fraternity in hopes of securing a bid. Paintball, six flags, food, I was there. One day a bunch of my friends all got calls inviting them to a steak and lobster dinner. I realized that this fraternity didn’t have my number. Since I had been there just as often as many of the people who had received calls, I figured they just couldn’t get a hold of me so I showed up to the dinner anyway. To this fraternity’s credit, they did a very good job not caring that I was there, even though I was probably the only one who didn’t end up getting a bid.

That’s right, I spent 2 weeks with this fraternity, doing most everything with them, and then bid day came and nothing happened. Well, not nothing. My friend received a call and an invite to the fraternity. We were both pretty certain this was a bid, so I tagged along since they STILL didn’t have my phone number, I figured at the very least I’d just sit there while he did whatever and got his bid and one of two things would happen:

1) I would get a bid as well
2) I’d sit there, he’d come out, and we’d leave, me sans-bid

Neither of these happened. Instead, I was taken into a room and specifically told that I would not be receiving a bid. The subtlety was over now. There was no more miscommunication or confusion. I had placed all of my fraternity eggs in one big basket which had been crushed as I sat in a dark and air-conditioned room with a brother from the fraternity.

That was it, Rush was over. I would not be moving into a fraternity. I wouldn’t be one of those people who “met their true family” or “all of a sudden felt included.” This bugged me, a lot. Another friend who had visited about three times DID get a bid and I just couldn’t figure it out. I’ve heard things now about why I didn’t receive a bid, which make a fair amount of sense, but are also the result of a flawed Rush system.

So, what happened? I Rush, am rejected, and am no longer welcomed with open arms by the Greek community because, to be honest, after Rush they really don’t beg for you to come in and visit them.


I live on Conner 2, English House, and love my floor more than any fraternity I could have pledged. Jared is standing here dual-wielding lightsabers, Sara is threatening him with a Nerf gun, Jordan’s teaching nun-chuck technique, a large inflatable penguin is wearing a race for the cure shirt, a life-sized paper zombie graces the wall across from me, and soon I’ll go to bed in my awesomely painted room. Looking back I realize that I would have regretted joining any fraternity. There’s just so much I would have missed out on Conner 2. Many people wouldn’t trade fraternity life for anything. I wouldn’t take it for a million dollars.

You will always hear people say how much they love their fraternities. You will always hear people say that the companionship is all they ever wanted. You will always hear about people losing their pledge pins and using its deep-rooted tradition as an excuse to spam all the dorm e-mail lists in hopes of getting it back. You will always see Rush shirts, rooftop parties, and Rush girls. You will always hear people boast proudly about their brothers.

I don’t have brothers. I don’t have a house. I don’t have rush girls. I don’t have Greek letters on my shirts. I don’t do house chores.

I have friends. I have my floor. I build water war weapons. I have sporks on my shirts. I chip in to buy our cleaning lady, Rosa, chocolate every couple of months.

Rejected from a fraternity and stuck in a dorm? More like protected from fraternities, embraced by 30 individuals who make my college life something I wouldn’t trade for the most lucrative of offerings.

E-mail concerns directly to snively [at] mit [dot] edu, not the admissions office.

72 responses to “The Other Side of Fraternities”

  1. Jess says:


  2. anonymous says:

    HILLBILLY GOLF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That’s what it’s called when you “throw golf balls attached to some string at a horizontal piece of PVC.”

    You would only know that if you grew up in a midwest HICK TOWN like me! The other popular midwest HICK TOWN game is called CORN HOLE. I’m not even making this up, it’s similar to playing a game of bean bag toss.

    Maybe I will start an MIT Hillbilly Golf Team or an MIT Corn Hole team. Any takers?

  3. '11 says:

    This is one of your best posts (out of the ones that actually have to do with MIT), Snively. I say that because it shows your strengths as well as your vulnerabilities. Thanks for sharing when you didn’t have to, and I think it’s important for the “other side” of the Greek life story to be told.

  4. 2011 says:

    so you tagged along to the fraternity even after your friend got a bid and he didn’t? And then you complain when they try and be upfront about it? Really now?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Dear Sombody,

    In answer to your question about the cost of living in a fraternity, I’ve found that the cost is generally comparable to (or less than) that of living in a dorm. I went Greek freshman year, and one of the many things that appealed to me about joining a fraternity was that I’d actually save several hundred dollars a year compared to living on campus. Oh, and it’s not a dumb question by any means.

  6. current '11 says:

    do you have any idea the amount of time and effort that goes into the fraternity bidding profess? did you really think you’d receive a bid by tagging along with a friend?


  7. Snively says:

    Never did I complain about them being upfront. Read the entry again.

    Thinking that simply tagging along would get me a bid is foolish, and not what I typed.

    I spent time making sure I worded things properly, I’d appreciate it if you spent time reading exactly what I wrote.

  8. Steph says:

    You didn’t do anything wrong by writing this blog. I think that this offers a different view of rushing and fraternities. If freshman want to rush a fraternity or sorority, then they should read this first. That way, if they’re rejected, they will know that is happens all the time (even to Master Snively).
    It’s your job as an admissions blogger to give incite on many topics and issues, even if they are a bit controversial. Also, I didn’t think you came off as offending.

    Wow, I think this has to be the longest comment I’ve typed in my two years of stalking these blogs. :p

  9. another12 says:

    Time to think. Then to sleep. Then to decide later. There is time.

  10. Cody Daniel says:

    Tasteful. Nice post.

  11. Ester says:

    Great post Snively!!

    It’s finding value in the negative, which is a pretty hard thing for some people to accept. I don’t think anyone should complain. It’s just a different angle.

  12. Anonymous says:

    As a parent of a ’12 student going through Rush right now, I’m ambivalent about the process. I understand that joining a fraternity makes the school “smaller”, but so does befriending others in the dorm, ESG, study groups, etc. It seems that Greek life is a bigger part of MIT than I realized. The fact that most houses are on the other side of the Charles seems to be a detriment, especially in winter. Since my son expects at least two bids and plans to accept one (I think), could some of you talk about the practicalities of the pledging process, getting to the houses, etc.?

  13. MIT Parent says:

    My daughter lives in your dorm, and she’s not interested in sororities. She was a “rush girl” recently for a fraternity, just because she has friends there, but she was also a “rush girl” for Burton-Connor as well, in the sense that she and her friends did everything they could to invite/entice people to want to live on her floor. So let’s face it, Snively, you have lost nothing by not joining a fraternity. You even have “rush girls” and “rush guys” right there at Burton-Connor. Personally, I think it’s a bit unfortunate that half of the men join a fraternity their freshman year and then move out of the dorms afterward (not so much the case with the sororities at MIT); it skews the gender balance.

  14. las1 says:

    I think it’s great you shared your story and that you are happy. Fraternities and sororities are not for everyone! However, there is a perfect place for everyone…whether it’s greek, a dorm, apartment, living at home etc… It’s part of college and the entire experience of making choices! No matter where you live…you have to make the most of it…join in the fun and get involved! Bravo on the blog!

  15. lulu says:

    I’m glad you posted this snively, I have to point out something though.

    almost all guys participate in frat rush events
    50% of guys end up in frats

    ==> 50% acceptance rate into frats?

    I think only if we assume that A) almost all male MIT students want to be in a frat (as evidenced by the fact that they ate some free food there…?) I don’t know about that… and B) everyone who gets a bid joins a frat.

    Now this is where the east vs. west thing may play a part. I don’t know, I’ve never lived anywhere but EC and Bexley and I’ve never noticed a frat presence. Less than 20% maybe are even interested. And those that are interested generally get to go somewhere. I think maybe you just got unlucky. Also, I know a fair amount of people who love their dorm and their dormmates as well as their frat brothers, it doesn’t have to be either/or, you don’t have to give up one thing to have the other. Many frats allow you to stay in your dorm and just participate in their events.

  16. lulu says:

    also, MIT parent-

    50% of males are in frats doesn’t mean 50% move into the frats. I don’t think it’s nearly that much, but I don’t have the numbers.

    anyhow sorry to be so serious, I just think this entry makes fraternities out to be this really central part of every male experience at MIT, and it’s not at all the case. Or it doesn’t have to be. You shouldn’t feel left out if you’re not interested, plenty aren’t. And if you are interested, your chances are pretty good, so you shouldn’t be nervous about the rush process.

  17. Snively says:

    Yeah, that may have been misleading. I assume that 50% of freshmen pledging frats =~ to the number receiving bids but that’s probably not accurate.

    50% joining though, doesn’t that mean that 50% of the males are in frats? I’m pretty sure it does.

  18. lulu says:

    yeah you’re definitely right i think it’s just about 50% are affiliated with frats, now this includes a lot of people who are in frats but live in dorms, I think for certain frats there are more of these pseudo-frat-boys than others, but it’s definitely significant enough that far fewer than 50% of the MIT male population actually move into their fraternities.

    I don’t know, in my experience fraternities aren’t SOO miles away omg so detached from dorm life that you’re taking a huge plunge and you’ll never go back. Of course you can mak eit that way if you like, but just as an example my boyfriend is off doing fratty things with his frat right now, but he lives in a dorm year round and mostly associate with his dorm visits the frat maybe once every week or so.

  19. lulu says:

    in general, I agree w/ your message. You don’t have to be in a frat to feel a sense of community. That’s actually the strength of the MIT housing system as opposed to that at other colleges. I feel like paul kinda goes the other extreme with his frat (nothing wrong with that paul- esp since you don’t try to speak for other people, just yourself) and is way more attached to it than most people are to their frats, and it’s nice to hear the other side.

  20. “But, when all of the guys Rush and only 50% get bids, you’re left with 50% who don’t get bids.”

    This is factually incorrect. Although you are right that 50% of males in a given incoming class will join a fraternity, this is not to say that only 50% of males who Rush get bids. That’s assuming a 100% acceptance rate which is very much not the case. I don’t have specific numbers on me, but I can assure you that many more than half of the guys who rush end up getting bids.

    It’s unfortunate that your Rush experience did not go as well as you had hoped, but please refrain from expressing that frustration in your writing. Many of the statements and generalizations in your post above are terribly misleading and far off the mark.

    To parent of a ’12: I suggest you send an email to the Interfraternity Council Executive Board ([email protected]) if you want detailed and accurate answers to your questions.

  21. Paul says:

    @Anonymous Parent: Transportation across the river is not terribly difficult, even in the winter. MIT has two SafeRide shuttles that travel through Boston on a regular basis every evening, helping students get across the Charles in both directions. Many students also own bikes, which makes transportation even easier. I personally have a bus pass (which MIT subsidizes, so it costs a mere $15 a month) and take the No. 1 bus across the river regularly.

    As for the “detriment” of houses in Boston, I actually find the situation to be quite the opposite. I love living in Boston, I love having an actual house to call my own, I love the community and brotherhood I’ve found in my fraternity. I unequivocally agree with Snively’s overall message that you don’t need to live in a fraternity to find community – but as has been said, there is a place for everyone at MIT; and I feel at home in my fraternity.

    As for the pledging process, the process of being initiated into my fraternity was undoubtedly one of the most exciting, rewarding, and enjoyable aspects of my first semester at MIT. Every fraternity takes care not to ensure that the pledge process doesn’t unduly interfere with a new member’s academics and other extra-curriculars. This is MIT, after all: we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t prioritize our academics.

    If you have more questions about your son and the pledging process, please feel free to email me. I would be happy to talk to you.

    @Everyone: Naturally, I have a lot of feelings about this issue…I like this entry, I like that I am not the only person talking about the fraternity system on the blogs.

    But I do also feel that some of the sentiments expressed in this entry are somewhat misleading or incorrect. Since I do not feel that these comments are the right place to talk about my concerns, I have opened a discussion with Snively via email, and I am optimistic we will come to a better understanding. And of course, I will continue to mention Greek life and share my personal stories in my own entries, as well as talk a little more about Rush, the pledging process, and other related issues.

    Finally, as I already mentioned, if anyone – parents, prospective students, current students – has any questions or concerns about any aspect of Greek life, I would be happy to answer them via email.

  22. photon says:

    There’s also the option of rushing ILGs. With longer rush periods, less-structured bid processes, and housebills that run about $1,800 a term, they are interesting alternatives to the dormitories versus fraternities/sororities bimodal paradigm. I’d recommend checking a few out and seeing what they have to offer.

  23. '08 grad says:

    this was a really good post… thanks for posting about something that most people don’t talk about.

  24. Snively says:

    @All 50% concerns
    I changed the wording a bit.

    It’s unfortunate that your Rush experience did not go as well as you had hoped, but please refrain from expressing that frustration in your writing.

    I’m sorry if my writing expressed emotion. I’ll try to be more stagnant next time.

  25. Bob '08 says:

    To AlsoAnonymous:

    It’s unfortunate that you have a problem with Snively expressing his frustration in his writing. It’s deplorable that you are asking him to refrain. Many of the statements and generalizations are pretty much a bulls-eye, so I would be interested to hear which you believe are off the mark.

  26. Happy'12 says:

    “I don’t have brothers. I don’t have a house. I don’t have rush girls. I don’t have Greek letters on my shirts. I don’t do house chores.” These things just sound so pathetic to me. I see it as a modest game frat guys play in order to make their lives more meaningful/interesting/ it just seems so much like a way to “buy” brothers. Then again, each to his own. If someone, like Paul, benefits in some way from being in a frat, then go ahead, it’s choices that define a person.
    In the other hand, people tend to adapt to anything, so in my opinion, if Snively had joined a frat, he would have probably liked it and said he’d never be better off living in the dorms.
    In the end, you’ll find the good in everything and stick to it, thinking it was the best choice/thing that happened. So I don’t see the point in arguing over pathetic games.
    Very interesting entry, Snively. And I am so glad you pointed this out from a completely different point of view, as opposed to all the positive things we heard from Melis(in the sorority side) and Paul. Keep up your very unique style of blogging; it’s invaluable for a great deal of us.

  27. Paul says:

    As a fraternity brother who has just gone through my first Rush from “the other side,” I want to point out that most of the 50% who don’t receive bids don’t want bids. Yes, almost the entire freshman class participates in Rush at least a little. But nowhere near 100% of the class participates in Rush seriously. Additionally, the vast majority of rushees explore multiple fraternities.

    Just as with MIT’s dorms and colleges in general, the most important thing about Rush is whether or not an interested freshman (or sophomore) “fits” in a particular fraternity. Rush is, after all, a mutual selection process between interested students and fraternity houses: each has to accept the other.

  28. This is a useful blog, and it’s definitely great to hear the “other side” of the rush experience. Most of the comments have also provided useful insights. I’d like to learn more about the Independent Living Groups one of the commentators mentioned. Could one of the bloggers take on that topic? Apart from that, Thanks, Snively.

  29. Happy'12 says:

    …living in the dorms or just being part of a fraternity….

  30. Mom '13 says:

    Thanks Snively for this excellent post….
    It is good to know that life outside of fraternity is equally good. With so much hype on the fraternity life at MIT it’s a consolation to know that ‘rejected by fraternities’ also form a close group and have a great experience.

  31. Anonymous says:

    You’ve gotten a ridiculous amount of comment so I don’t have to tell you again this was a pretty good post.
    I was never planning on joining a fraternity, but I was also concerned I might miss out on something.

    Thanks for the reassurance.

  32. Hawkins '12 says:

    I like this entry. It brings perspective that has been missing (or suppressed) until now.

    I don’t think we should get caught up in the accuracy or inaccuracy of the numbers – who cares if it’s 50% or 25% or 75% or 42%. Fact is, some people get rejected by fraternities. Also, some people reject fraternities. The rush process generates as much frustration as it does happiness. And if MIT is to continue its tradition of being open and honest about every aspect of the Institute, its people should write about both the good and the bad. As I’m quickly finding out, it’s not all sunshine and puppies here. =)

  33. Jessie says:


    Snively, I was considering emailing you about this, but I’d sort of like to address your audience as well, because you are getting a lot of feedback on this.

    I didn’t go Greek, so I don’t have any reason to be personally offended by your post. But it bothers me just the same. You’ve made this into a tremendous “us vs. them” issue that it doesn’t need to be.

    Yes, you don’t need an FSILG to have a close-knit community. I had an amazing close-knit community on 5th East that I wouldn’t have traded for anything. You’re absolutely right about that, and correct to reassure people that at MIT, you can have that sort of community whether you live in a dorm or an FSILG.

    In the process of making this valuable point, however, you’ve reinforced a bunch of people’s stupid stereotypes about the Greek system – look at some of the responses you got! You come off sounding very bitter. And you make it sound like fraternity brothers don’t have what you have.

    Guess what? I wouldn’t take *your* living group over mine for a million dollars, even though I like the people that I’ve met on it. There are several FSILGs, in fact, that I would take first. But you don’t see me whaling on your living group, making it look bad to prefrosh and their parents, in a public forum. “Protected” from fraternities? How much more adversarial can you get? What about live and let live? What about the part where the whole point of MIT residence selection is that people can find the right living group for *them*, whether it’s in a dorm or an FSILG? You obviously found the right living group for you – so why go after other people’s? Do you seriously think that you are, or need to be, protected from fraternities?

    Back when I was running for UAVP I got repeatedly slammed by people, including some of my own friends, who didn’t like that I was running on a ticket with a fraternity guy. What’s the point of promoting that mindset? Why portray two dozen living groups that are valuable to their people, in the way that yours is valuable to you, as dark and sketchy? Why promote the idea of dorm people as victims of an oppressive, dominant, system, when it’s not true?

  34. Jessie says:

    Also, you think that this is going to bring down the wrath of the admins on Admissions? Seriously?

    The administrative offices that get irritated at Admissions over stuff on the blogs and elsewhere *love* anti-fraternity sentiment. They love the propagation of the idea that the FSILGs are oppressing the masses. They’re the same people who pushed Freshmen On Campus, and pushed (and push) against student choice in housing in general, and have often used the excuse that freshmen might get their feelings hurt by the mean old system to do so.

  35. anonanon says:

    snively’s comments are largely on the mark. it works out for some people, even most perhaps, but it is a pretty vicious process. from personal experience i know kids who really feel a place is right for them, communicate that to the house, and WORST OF ALL, keep getting invited (legit invited like being called, not like tagging along) to events at the place, only to be pulled aside much to late and told that they should look elsewhere. Fraternities are extremely judgemental of people, which is inherently unfair because rush is a weeklong deal and people are straight up judged in this time. Rush would be much better if it were a month-long, or even a semester long affair, with events on weekends, so that the mutual acceptance process could play out on a more natural time frame. some kids need more time to open up to people. this would be perfect for them. during rush, quiet kids are labelled social retards and excluded, even though they might just need some more time. this would help the frats as well, because no matter what they say, you cannot know someone enough in a week to make them your “brother”

  36. Ehsan says:


  37. Sam'09 says:

    I think that you complitely missed the point Snively tried to convey when he said “I’m going to be honest. BUT, I’m also going to try really hard to not make everybody mad at me.”

    If his comments came off as sentimental or bitter, his very-carefully-chosen words and the limited amount of existent vocabulary that to address and provide a different perspective (other than the one that had been provided before) to such a provocative issue without hurting anyone, limited him to not do so.

    For this matter, I think it was inevitable not to come off as bitter and protective when he was only expressing experiences. I think you were not careful enough to distinguish his opinion from the, as seem to claim, otherwise intent at sounding “bitter” and “adversal”.

    I think the resentment you perceive from the entry is the part where Snively was actually being “honest” or expressing his feelings/opinion towards fraternities as he stated he was going to at the beginning of the entry.

    If Paul and other bloggers have already expressed their opinions on fraternities and sororities, isn’t it fair for Snively to express his? As you see from the comments, MANY of us have appreciated that he had the courage to unfold an otherwise unseen side of the story.

    Now, again, I don’t think he meant to make this as an “us VS them” type of deal. And he clearly states that his intention is not to make everybody mad at him, so why would he make it this way? If it came along as adversal, it was not his intention.

    You proceed to say, “You’ve reinforced a bunch of people’s stupid stereotypes about the Greek system”
    Seriously? I don’t think anyone needs any reinforcement on “stupid stereotypes about the Greek system.”! In fact, I am almost certain the feedback he received would not have been any different if the people who made them had been asked their opinions on fraternities before Snively published this entry.

    He never enforced anything, and if he really wanted to be that provocative, I am sure he could have done a better job than “I’m also going to try really hard to not make everybody mad at me.” Stereotypes will never disappear, even if MIT’s Greek system is an alien to the rest of the US’s Greek systems in terms of culture.

    Also, “Protected from fraternities” is not adversal. Here’s another example where I think you missed the point, where you should have paid attention to the tone of this entry, because this was not his intent.

    What I think he meant by “protected” is that he was being taken away from what fraternities had to offer him, which as he states, would have taken away the experiences he has gone through by living in the dorms.

    This is why I think you should have paid attention to the mentioned sentence.

    @the concerned:
    He’s just expressing honesty people, but, unfortunately, there’s always a limited way in which one can express it without being hurtful to others. That’s just vocabulary limitations.

    To sum up my point, I think all people concerned with this entry are making a bigger deal out of it than they should, when really Snively meant to convey such a simple but very important message. It’d help just to read more carefully, as I think Snively has also pointed out at some of the commenters.

  38. My son chose to be in a frat and has been very happy. Frat houses are not huge dorms. There is limited space. Only so many prospective brothers can be invited. Its kind of like admission to MIT,
    so many applicants, so few openings. Frat houses have a week to get to know you. Admissions has an application and three essays. Everyone prays those selected are the right fit. Rejection goes both ways.

  39. Snively – As a mom who reads your blog, I feel like I have come to know you (on some level) and my heart ached when I read that the fraternity rejected you. What? Why wouldn’t they take Snively? I know that you will be happy living in Burton-Conner but still, no one likes to be rejected. So, can I ask – why didn’t they give you a bid?

  40. WFM says:

    ^ There could be (and most likely are) multiple factors, and not all of them specifically contribute in a bad way, but consider the fact that no one can be well-liked by everyone. Two friends who lived in BC this past summer on the same floor as Snively confided in me that they found him awfully annoying.

  41. Sombody says:

    This might be a seriously dumb question, but you have to pay more than dorm costs for the privelege of living in a fraternity, right? What are the financial considerations, since I haven’t seen this discussed in the blogs.

    I’ve always presumed that Fraternity/Sororities were kind of like a big cheesy designer logo plastered across your posterior so other people could assess your social bling. I hope I am wrong though – MIT probably isn’t like that.

  42. Jess says:

    I liked the perspective you brought up with this entry, and I’m obviously not in a fraternity (or a sorority) but I just have to point out – the statement “only 50% get bids, you’re left with 50% who don’t get bids” – there are plenty of dudes who get bids and don’t accept. And there are plenty of dudes who get bids to multiple houses and accept one but not the others. So it’s not exactly 50%.

    And for this story, there are lots of other stories I hear of guys getting followed by fraternities begging to know why they didn’t accept their bid, or why they haven’t come by the house, etc. But it all depends on the fraternitiy, I guess.

    Basically, my point is, there are 27 (?) fraternities at MIT, and there’s a lottttt of variation. But I liked this entry, and I’m glad you told your story! (If this sounded antagonistic at all, I tried not to be.. sorry.. I completely agree with the floor community stuff, as you know well.. and I’m sick.. bleh.)

  43. Snively says:

    @milena’11 and Jessie
    Agreed. I’m not going to change the entry at this point because it still serves a valuable purpose worded as it is, but an entry along the lines you two have suggested would be very fitting as well.

  44. Snively says:

    No, actually this is the other side. This is the side of “I wanted a bid but didn’t get one.” Maybe the circumstances surrounding that were unique to me, but this is definitely a totally legitimate scenario.

    Also, the reason this entry shows up under a picture of me is to let people know that they’ll be reading my opinion about things that have happened to me.

    Furthermore, I’m not paid for my controversy, otherwise I’d have like $20.

  45. anonymous says:

    I agree with anonanon, the week long process does not seem to be fair at all…. how is it possible to attend all the activities for 2-3 frats, that you are considering in one week to get accepted.

    One mom has compared this to the admission process (application + 3 essays) but remember along with that application was years of hard work and excellent credentials/recommendations. Rush week does not give prospective freshman any time to make an impression.

  46. “Looking back I realize that I would have regretted joining any fraternity.”

    That’s a pretty silly thing to say. You have no way of knowing you would regret it, because you’ve never experienced fraternity life. You say you would have missed out on a lot of things in Conner 2, but you don’t know what you’re currently missing out on by not being in a fraternity. There’s things to be missed in both scenarios, and you don’t have the knowledge of both sides necessary to justify saying that you are better suited for one over the other.

  47. mom '11 says:

    My son did not join a frat last year and is very happy in Baker…he has formed close bond with many students who either did not join a frat/sorority by choice or were not accepted.

  48. Hawkins '12 says:

    Bitterness is not unwarranted here. Rush is a flawed process. There’s no way we frosh can make informed, accurate assessments about 27 different cultures of people in one week, and there’s no way a fraternity can make informed, accurate assessments about ~600 frosh in one week.

    As a freshman who recently participated in rush, I can say that there is a lot of pressure and politics involved in rush because of the short time window. I think it’s naive to say that nothing shady goes on during rush, or that everyone is given the chance to explore all their options. Realism is often mistaken for cynicism…

  49. anon says:

    @mom ’11: are there many like that in baker or is it just a few people?

  50. milena '11 says:

    I wouldn’t exactly say that frat rush is a flawed process. I agree completely when people say that you can’t go to all 27 frats and get to know all the brothers in just a week and make the best decision for you, but that is exactly why I don’t think freshmen should rush, at least not right after orientation. Some of them do it just because everybody else is doing it and then end up hating it, or some of them wish they’d checked out a cooler frat.

    Then again, the same thing happens with dorm rush. The only reason why I wouldn’t say dorm rush is flawed is because if you get into a dorm you end up not liking you can always switch out. To the best of my knowledge, this doesn’t happen with frats; if you’re affiliated with one of them, then that’s it, brothers for life. So I guess waiting a term or a year would be best, because then you’ll know people from the different frats and make a better decision.

  51. Jessie says:

    milena ’11: Not true. I’ve personally known people who went with one frat (or other FSILG), deaffiliated, and then went with another.

    There’s a problem with your “waiting a term or a year” deal. You only get four years. If you wait a term or a year, you’re costing yourself the experience of that community for that term or year.

    If we switched to a freshman dorm, or randomized housing for freshmen, then everyone would be protected from the possible consequences of their and others choices for a year. I would consider that a loathsome system for MIT, one that dozens of MIT students worked their butts off to prevent several years ago. Freshmen benefit tremendously from living with upperclassmen, freshmen benefit from the close communities that they are able to form so early (when many of them need them most) and freshmen benefit from the chance to make their own decisions as adults.

    This is MIT, and students have to make choices. Just like in the rest of life, students don’t always have complete info when they make those choices, but they do the best they can with what they have. Students are given freedom here, and not protected from themselves. And that is how I (and the overwhelming majority of students I have known, regardless of where they live) think it should be.

    Sam ’09: Of course Snively is entitled to his opinion. That doesn’t mean that I’m not entitled to argue with him about it, to try to convince him that some amount of his opinion is wrong, or to mention to him that his expression could have consequences he didn’t intend.

    And if you think that I misread Snively…given his response to me, he apparently disagrees with you, at least to some degree (and I give him credit for responding graciously when he could have been defensive about what I said).

    You seem to have this idea that if people are expressing their *opinions* then nobody should ever get mad or offended, because it’s just their opinion. What, pray tell, is worth getting mad or offended over, then? Facts?

    I would also like to point out to those commenters who seem to think that this is the first entry ever to talk about how you can have a close community in a dorm, and have been praising Snively for that (not that he doesn’t deserve praise for talking about it, I’m taking issue with the attitude that this point is somehow new)…people, a *huge* proportion of student blogger entries over the years have been about this. Probably at least a third of my entries were about this. If you think that nobody has ever expressed this point before, you may need to go back and do some reading.

  52. anonymous says:

    I believe your point was very well made with your first sentence. I found your second sentence unnecessary and unkind. Life is much too short to spend any time being hurtful to anyone.
    p.s. I don’t know Snively.

  53. Piper says:

    @Anonanon – Certainly, fraternity rush has its flaws. I imagine it would be pretty difficult to get to know many houses and try to find the right place for you. At the same time, however, this is also a flaw in dorm rush, or hall/entry/etc rush – how can one expect to get to know the dorms in a week? Or many halls in a couple hours?

    And yet most people seem to end up exactly where they should be – one of the fraternities, a particular hall, wherever. Almost everyone at MIT enjoys their living group cultures. Flawed system? Perhaps, but I would no sooner cut fraternity rush than switch to randomized housing.

    And I really, really dislike the idea of randomized housing. wink

  54. Jack says:

    Allow me to present yet another side of fraternities that will add more perspective to the much-debated Rush statistics.

    As a freshman, I was entirely uninterested in joining a fraternity. But I still “did Rush,” not because I was keeping an open mind about Greek life, but because I wanted free food. The first night of Rush, I scanned the activities booklet for the group that was giving out the most expensive meals and assembled a raiding party of several of my newfound friends at my dorm.

    We had the fraternity pick us up in a van and take us to their house, where we sat in a closed circle in the middle of the common area. Only one brother even tried to talk to us because our message was clear–we reject your brotherhood but accept your free food.

    Some time later, I decided that I was not satisfied merely taking steak and lobster from this fraternity. I stole away one of its Rush girls, too. In the interest of discretion, I’ll say no more on that topic.

    If I had joined a fraternity, I might be posting here to say that I found lifelong friends, a community of men with strong values, a place to grow into the best I can be, or some other such nonsense. Instead, I live in a community with a few dozen of the blackest souls at MIT or anywhere else. I enjoy the friendship and company of every single person in my living group, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  55. Rebecca says:

    Okay, everybody, CHILL OUT!!! Snively is not personally dissing you if you are in a frat! he is expressing it didnt work for him, and he’s actually glad about that. its okay! I know absolutely nothing about Greek life, and I was starting to think thats where all the fun is. I appreciate that other blogs have been written on the subject, but i am extremely busy and only have time to stalk current blogs,so those dont help me. I appreciate the assurance that you can have fun in dorms too, and that Greek life really isnt for everybody. You generally only hear about it from people who love it, creating a biased feeling about it. this is just how someone else sees it, and that perception is invaluable for that reason. Back off and count to ten, and quit attacking Snively…some of us truly enjoyed reading about it from his point of view. at least respect the courage it took to write about something he knew would cause a stir in the interest of better educating those of us the admissions blogs are for…i.e. prospective students.

  56. Sondy '07 G says:

    @MITParent2011: I’m more than happy to talk to you about Independet Living Groups at MIT and the alternatives they offer to both dorm and Greek life. You can shoot me an email at sondy at mit dot edu if none of the admissions bloggers take on this topic.

    Matt or Stu or anyone else reading: can I do a guest blogger piece on this? Thanks!

    Some benefits of ILGs:
    * Meal plan (very cheap)
    * Off-campus housing with the benefits of MIT housing (MIT Internet, MIT-paid RA [like a GRT])
    * Students own the house they live in
    * Strong alumni network (exists in dorms/FSs, too)
    * No national organization to collect dues
    * Flexible rush schedules/times/bid policies
    * 5/6 are coed (two are former fraternities that went coed)
    * Practical house maintenance/budget managing skills

  57. Alum '08 says:

    This is not “the other side of Fraternities”. This is your story with a single fraternity out of 27.

    The other side of fraternities involves a fraternity man being told by his own brothers that the kid he likes, the kid he has been inviting over, the kid he wants to have as a fraternity little brother, the kid he wants to help develop into a better person instilled with new and exciting ideals and values he believes in, just isn’t going to make the cut and he has to personally deliver that message to the freshman he’s been excited about since campus preview weekend in April.

    Sometimes its just the opposite and the kid gets a bid and becomes a brother and proudly displays his letters.

    I’m sorry, but a kid who has only done one recruitment on the freshman side is not an expert on “the sides of fraternities”. If you are interested in getting your questions subjectively answered you can easily contact the Interfraternity Council at [email protected] who are trained and experienced in everything imaginable and are advised my amazing Deans and Directors or directly contact the recruitment chair at [email protected], not a one sided blogger who is paid for his controversy.

  58. anon says:

    can someone with knowledge of the different houses comment on how spring rush works and which houses participate in it. i felt that the fall wasn’t enough time to either make or formulate an impression on or about any place, but i may still be interested in a frat and want to know about other rush options.

  59. Anonymous says:


    You are my new hero.

  60. Paul says:

    @anon: Virtually all houses, to my knowledge, participate in “Spring Rush” to some extent. A small number of houses each year have formal, advertised Spring Rush events. More commonly, though, fraternities just use the spring as an informal opportunity to follow through with interested students. In the same way, some students may proactively start visiting a house more during the spring as a way of expressing interest in maybe joining the fraternity and getting to know the brothers better. Students who participate in Spring Rush could range from freshmen who participated in fall Rush but wanted more time to make up their minds about Greek life, to people who became interested in fraternity life only after Rush had ended.

    The most important distinction between MIT’s spring rush and similar periods elsewhere is that most MIT fraternities have only one pledge class each year, in the fall. So even if you become interested in fraternity life in the spring and it’s clear that a particular house really likes you, you may have to wait until the fall to formally pledge. (Though it is certainly possible for sophomores who are not yet brothers to move into a fraternity house.)

  61. anonymous says:

    Seriously, the reason MIT offers so many living options is because different ones appeal to different students. Snively is entitled to his opinion and he has chosen the living option that is best for him. Personally, I can see pros and cons of each living arrangement. I appreciate the fact that Snively has shared his experience with fraternities just as much as I appreciate Paul’s experience with fraternities. If everyone had the same opinions, likes and dislikes, it would be pretty boring. Let’s embrace the fact that MIT offers so many options and that is what makes it unique. Everyone can find the living arrangement that suits them best. Thank you Snively for sharing your experience.

  62. milena '11 says:

    I’m so glad Jessie wrote that comment, because I was about to say something along those lines.

    It’s fine if you don’t like frats/sororities, because it’s definitely not for everybody, but you don’t need to make them look like they’re big meanies for not letting you into their frat. I understand the way you feel, but you could’ve conveyed this in some other way, highlighting how much you love living in your dorm instead of being all like “well the frat hated me, and i’m still bitter about it, but i ended up liking my dorm anyway!”

  63. Anonymous says:

    hey snively. you want to hear a funny story? i went to many rush events, and in the end, one side of me wanted to join a fraternity, another side of me didn’t. long story short (very long) i am currently not in a fraternity. i started regretting not getting to know some of the brothers more, or trying to visit them more often. i had just had a bikeride across the bridge, thinking i could somehow try and get a bid. but i realize it is not the end of the world, and maybe, just maybe, not is not the time. but thank you for this post, and i hope to catch up with you the next time i see you. much mahalo, flying hawaiian.

  64. milena '11 says:

    @ jessie:

    my bad. I was told that you could deaffiliate and still not join another frat; I guess my source wasn’t well informed.

    But I still feel like waiting some time before going greek might help in making a more informed decision. This might not be a perfectly compatible analogy, but it’s all I have, given the fact that I never did sorority rush (or whatever it’s called). When I first came to Senior House during CPW, I HATED it. I thought it reeked, the people were bitchy, and it was just scary in general. But over the summer I made friends who lived in Senior House and when I checked it out again, I instantly fell in love with the place and the culture. I assume this doesn’t just happen to me, so maybe waiting a while and then checking it out again isn’t so bad. Of course, some people walk into a frat and instantly feel like they belong, so obviously those people should just go ahead and join their freshman year.

    And I don’t think joining your sophomore year would be that bad. I know a couple of people who have done it, and they don’t seem to regret it. To each his own, I guess.

  65. Sam says:

    Yo, I did rush. Kind of by accident. I turned down my bid. My living group was cool.

    At the same time, there’s a frat for everyone (I mean that in the literal sense; I think that there is one singular frat that everyone should join, but I guess I’m not allowed to say it on MITblogs because that’s free advertising or something). Guys might as well do rush. Go in with an open mind. Don’t give them your cell phone number, though.

    What Jessie posted was pretty smart. People criticizing Snively anonymously are lame.

  66. Sam'09 says:

    And who is to say which opinion is wrong, when in the end, only facts can be proven right or wrong with the majority of the subjects agreeing to it by observation/experiment, etc…?

  67. MITMom'12 says:

    What a wonderful, informative post from the heart and mind. Thank you! My son went through rush expecting fun, and found a Frat (I’m not sure how *I* feel about that yet!). This post helped me to understand the feelings involved from the student’s perspective, which – judging from the reactions here – has probably not been previously addressed.

  68. @WFM: You claim that ” Two friends who lived in BC this past summer on the same floor as Snively confided in me that they found him awfully annoying.” Was that snarky little bit of character assassination really necessary? Do these unidentified backstabbers speak for the frat at issue? Do they even belong to the frat? Do they suffer from such unforgivable character flaws that they should be shunned instead of Snively? Personally, I find that Snively’s experience demonstrates quite well the exclusionary practices and bad feelings engendered by the greek system. I never thought I’d say this, but rush at MIT makes the hideous bidding process at the Princeton eating clubs look good. You can accept his honest opinion or not, but attacking his personality is out of bounds and reflects poorly on yours.

  69. @Snively Supporter: “character assassinations”??
    uh, “unidentified backstabbers”? dude, they’re just two people with their own opinions on this guy. chill out. and while you may be right in that those two have nothing to do with Snively being rejected from fratdom, I think this commenter was just trying to give offer insight or an alternative view as to how other people might (gasp) not worship Snively.

  70. this is dumb says:

    I can’t believe I wasted so much time reading these comments on here. Even more, some of you guys care way to much about stupid stuff…period

  71. GreekMan11 says:

    Just want to clarify a few things: hanging out at a house does not guarantee a bid. You may be an awesome guy, and you may think you get along with the house very well, but the house as a whole needs to like you. If one or two of the brothers don’t mix well with someone after a few days, then the Fraternity cannot invite that freshman to join. Also, assuming the house does not have a way to contact you is foolish. There are plenty ways to stalk kids these days to find a method of contacting (facebook & clearinghouse). Also, if the brothers like a freshman, they will be sure to get that freshman’s contact information.

    I do agree that you were in no way complaining about your experience. And your experience is one that rarely gets told. But it was still one sided. As a freshman rushing a Fraternity, you did not see how rush works behind the scenes. You did not see why the events happened the way they did. This post shows the disappointment of a freshman, but not the reasoning behind why that Fraternity did not bid you.

    Fraternities take no pleasure in rejecting a freshman that seems to really like the house. Often times if a house has a freshman that is very interested in them, but the house doesn’t see them as a good fit, that house will call a different house that they think will be a good fit for that freshman in hopes of allowing that freshman to still join the Greek system.

    Never let the possibility of failure deter you from trying.

  72. Anonymous says:

    all i have to say is that rush was incredible