Changes to Greek ‘Strict Silence’ policy

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By Charlotte Lehman

Strict Silence, the policy that states that sorority members cannot speak to undergraduate women not affiliated with a sorority during the period before pledging, has recently undergone drastic changes at Union.

At most schools, Strict Silence is in effect for the last five weeks of the spring term and the first two weeks of the fall term, after which the rush period is over.

This was once Union’s policy too. In recent years, however, Union has replaced the five-week period of Strict Silence in the spring term with a period known as Positive Panhellenic Contact.

“Positive Panhellenic Contact is that period of time when [sorority members] can interact with any woman, talk about anything, and if anything sorority related comes up, then the only thing they can do is speak in a positive manner about sorority life in general, about Panhellenic in general, as opposed to speaking about her own sorority,” states former Director of Greek Life Timothy Dunn.

Dunn explained that the policies of Strict Silence and Positive Panhellenic Contact are designed to prevent “dirty rushing,” when sorority members put down other groups in an effort to promote their own.

“It has gotten dramatic before.  I’ve had people send me things anonymously on Facebook, I’ve had things slipped under my door, I have received photos, videos, text messages alleging that so-and-so is dirty rushing,” Dunn said.

By reducing the length of time Strict Silence is enforced and enacting Positive Panhellenic Contact, such conflict is minimized.

Strict Silence is enforced for contact between sorority members and any independent, undergraduate women, including siblings and close friends. Dunn said that when Strict Silence was enforced in the spring, problems would arise between women and that, even now, he has to be firm with upset parents.  Despite this, Dunn maintains that the changes that have been enacted in the last two years have significantly improved the rushing experience for both Greeks and Independents.

Dunn said, “It’s a much more positive experience.”

College Panhellenic Council Recruitment Chair Jaclyn DeFranco agreed that the changes to Union’s Strict Silence policies have improved the experience, saying, “This way girls can remain friends without promoting individual sororities.”

Both DeFranco and Dunn have noted differences in the rush experience since the changes were made.

Dunn said, “There’s a much more unified bond throughout the house.  I think that’s a direct result of putting things in place to cut down on the negative interactions and bad blood.”

DeFranco concurred: “I think it makes the PNMs [potential new members] more comfortable with Greek Life.”

Freshmen tend to agree that the rules benefit the community.

“I think it’s good because then no one would sway your decision one way or the other and you can meet everyone without having any bias,” said one freshman who plans on rushing.

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