How Rush Works

If you graduated Dartmouth in the 1980’s or earlier, freshman spring was when you said goodbye to the snow and hello to the fraternities.  But at today’s Dartmouth it’s not only the Rush schedule that has changed; the process and the words used to describe it have evolved considerably.

Rush is a two-day event with an optional third day in the Fall of Sophomore year, a student’s fourth term. A second, smaller rush takes place during Sophomore Winter. Dartmouth has changed the Rush schedule on several occasions over the past 25 years since 1988, the last year it took place in Freshman Spring.  As recently as 2000-2004 the College moved Rush to Spring of Sophomore year.  This proved devastating to fraternity membership as almost half of all students on campus were ineligible to become members.  Aside from this five-year experiment, Rush has taken place during Sophomore Fall since 1992.

Fall Rush is typically scheduled during the second or third week of the term.  During the two evenings of Rush visitation is from 7:00 – 9:00 PM.  Tie and jacket is strongly recommended for both the fraternity members and those hoping to join, but the College encourages fraternities to not hold it against aspiring members who dress more casually.

Students interested in rushing a fraternity, known as "Potential New Members" or PNMs, must attend an anti-hazing education program offered by the Office of Greek Letter Organizations and Societies (GLOS) before they can participate.  PNM’s must also have GPA of 2.5 or above to be eligible for Rush. 

PNM’s can visit as many houses as they wish.  PNM’s may know which house is their first choice but are wise to hedge their bets by visiting several fraternities.  Similarly, the fraternities know that they are in competition with each other for the most desirable PNM’s and must offer bids to a high number of PNM’s to reach the desired membership number.  

PNMs are encouraged to “sign in” or “rush” at least four houses.  They express their preference by “shaking out” at the end of the night, a process similar to applying early decision to a college.  By "shaking out" at the house they hope to join at the end of the first night, they send that fraternity a signal that it is their first choice.  Houses then deliberate and can start giving bids after the first night.

On the second night a PNM who did not get a bid from his first house has to decide whether to “shake out” again at that house and risk a repeat rejection or “shake out” at a different house where his chances may be better.   A fraternity has the option of hosting a third night for callbacks of PNM’s who were not offered bids.

Although still used by other Dartmouth fraternities, the term “pledge” belongs to a bygone era at SigEp in Hanover. Dartmouth SigEp has a zero-tolerance policy for hazing and instead offers its members a nationally recognized development program called the Balanced Man Program. Under the Balanced Man Program piloted at Dartmouth when Bruce Hasenkamp '60 was Grand President of the national fraternity in 1991, a new member immediately has equal status with the upper class members. 

Nearly 70% of eligible students elect to join a GLOS.  This is up nearly 20% over the last 10 years.  The college now has 17 fraternities, 11 sororities and 3 co-ed organizations.  The percentage of males who join a GLOS is only slightly larger than the percentage of females.


If you are interested in reading more about Rush Rules, please visit