Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hotboxed

I spent part of a semester in the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at Washington State University, better known as the Fiji's. I don't know what kind of house they are today, but in those days, it was considered the nerd house. It wasn't necessarily deserving of that reputation, but largely it was. Regardless of the merits of the moniker, it weighed heavily upon everyone, on me more than anyone else.

Many of the guys could have been in any other house on campus, but chose this one for personal reasons. I was convinced to visit during fraternity rush by a dorm floor-mate from my freshman year.

For those who don't know, Fraternity Rush is an event where hundreds of young men visit each Fraternity they are interested in joining. Each rusher is greeted and shown around, while the host and visitor gauge their own interest in each other. The Fraternities throw grand parties and invite those they find interesting--sometimes the parties have themes, or feature special events, like boxing between house members, big-time-type wrestling bouts, cliff-diving at the Snake River, carnival type atmosphere with a dunk-tank, etc. It's the really big show, and house members are all smiles, rays of pure sunshine, more friendly and helpful than the staff of any Four Seasons hotel in this hemisphere.

The rushers narrow their choices, and by the last day they go where they want to go and are either asked to join or are politely told to seek employment elsewhere. What really happens on that last day though, is that each Fraternity plants agents all over Frat Row who swarm their targets and shuttle them to the house and "hotbox" them into pledging. Hotboxing is the practice of surrounding the rusher in a room with four members, usually the more charismatic ones, and applying pressure.

"Guys in the house are really high on you Scott." Ken faced me with a clipboard in his hands. Chad, Biff and Larry grunted their affirmation as they stared at me like I was a blue ribbon heifer.

"That's great Ken, but I'm not ready to make that call yet."

"Listen, I'm not supposed to tell you this..." He looked at the others with a look that said, 'Should I?' The others looked worried, but decided that the situation warranted this breach of protocol. Ken's clipboard tilted towards me as he searched for my name, which I happened to see around mid-page. "You are our number one guy."

I wanted to leave and join the TKE house, right next door, but in the end, I caved to this obvious sham and said yes.

This isn't even close to being over...

13 comments:

mr. schprock said...

Oh, I can tell this is gonna be good!

Which one of those guys is like Neidermeyer? And will we get to meet Dean Wormer?

Toga! Toga!

Beth said...

I went to college during my senior year and never returned so I never had the "pleasure" of trying to pledge. Quite honestly, it scares the crap out of me just to think about it!

Scott said...

Mr Schprock - There were some wild times, but mostly that stuff was mythology. But I have plenty to say about it.

Beth - The girls were especially brutal to one another. They found out what house they were in by opening envelopes in a public green. I noticed one that didn't have anything written on her paper, and I watched her cry and leave in shame.

jenbeauty said...

Ah the life of campus Greeks. Another topic we have in common Scott. Kappa Delta here....I can't wait to here this!

Oh and the Fiji's were pretty cool where I went to school and the TKE's were THE party fraternity on our campus. I actually still have a T-shirt that my daughter asked me about the other day.

Mrs.T said...

I'm not sure I would have ever joined a sorority...

I have friends who did, but they all ended up thinking it was either the BEST thing ever, or stupid.

Scott said...

Jen - I definitely had some good times, but I have a problem with authority, so Greek life and I don't mix. Stay tuned. By the way, I was glad to see your comment on your friend's blog. It's a pet peeve of mine to have my intelligence come into question over a matter of opinion. I respect others and expect the same in return.

Mrs T - Yeah, there aren't too many people that just think is was so-so. Greek life has it's fans and it's detractors.

Eve said...

Never joined a sorority - my first years in college I was too shy and when I went back as an "older" student - well, I was too old. But I have a few friends who did - others who were my friends until they joined a sorority and then I wasn't good enough. But I have best friends who had a great time as "little sisters". Loved those drinking songs!

Scott said...

Eve - I forgot out the whole "little sisters" institution. How about that? You reminded me of a couple aspects of the life, thanks.

Chloe said...

Not another cliffhanger!

The Zombieslayer said...

Looking forward to hearing this story. I rushed, but never joined. I just took advantage of free beer. :)

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Ha ha!

Yes, I'm sure Animal House type madness is afoot. I wait with baited breath..

Toni Anderson said...

This is a totally alien world to me!! Nothing like it at my universities!!!

And fascinating because of it.

Scott said...

Chloe - Alas, yes. I don't want to rush such a rich period of history.

Zombie - See you next time then. It was fun, even when it wasn't fun.

Toast - Not quite, but my own manufactured brand of it, yes.

Toni - Well I hope to give you a good glimpse then. See you next time.