Northwestern introduces recruitment freeze for student groups


Daily file photo by Brian Lee

Members of the class of 2017 participate in a team building exercise during Wildcat Welcome. Northwestern will implement a recruiting freeze that will be in effect during Wildcat Welcome.

Paige Leskin, Reporter

Northwestern will implement a recruitment freeze at the beginning of Fall Quarter prohibiting all student groups from releasing applications and holding formal events aimed at recruiting new students until the second week of classes.

The freeze will be in effect during Wildcat Welcome and the first week of classes, ending with the Registered Student Organizations Activities Fair on Sept. 27. The following day, organizations may start to schedule application processes, interviews, tryouts and other activities required of prospective new members.

The freeze is intended to help new students ease into life at NU instead of throwing everything at them at once, as well as keep anyone from feeling excluded from the student body, said Hope Wallace, assistant director of student organization resources at the Center for Student Involvement.

“They already felt like doors had been closed their first week of classes,” she said. “They felt that they lost that opportunity very quickly when the year started. At the least, (the freeze) gives everybody an opportunity to get their syllabus, find out about what’s going on, meet some people, figure out what their life is going to look like, and then they can try out, they can audition the following week.”

Through assessments conducted by the New Student and Family Programs office, including surveys and interviews, Wallace said the University discovered incoming students named one of the top issues they faced upon coming the NU as feeling very overwhelmed by getting involved. Through a collaboration between Associated Student Government and several NU administrative groups, including CSI and Student Affairs, the freeze was created in an effort to decrease stress for new students.

McCormick senior Alex Van Atta, ASG vice president for student groups, emphasized the importance of accommodating new students as they join student groups, as these are the places where many students will find friends and their own communities. By pushing recruitment activities back a week, students get the chance to discover areas of NU student life they may not initially come into contact with, he said.

“The goal is to ease students more into the process of joining a student group, to make sure that they hear about all the opportunities available, that they know what the different outlets are to getting involved,” Van Atta said. “If we’re trying to make sure students are being healthy and that they don’t have to make a decision right as soon as they’re moving in, getting to know people … then ultimately, it will be better for everybody in the long run.”

Van Atta also hopes the freeze will “level the playing field” for the groups. The organizations that can round up a strong presence of members during Wildcat Welcome, even before classes begin, get an immediate advantage over groups whose students can’t get to Evanston before the first day of class, he said. Leaving the recruiting until after school starts ensures all groups will have a fair shot at new members.

To keep with the theme of inclusion and ease in involvement, Wallace said NU will promote groups that declare themselves “open” when registering for the Activities Fair. Open groups are classified as organizations that don’t actively deny students from becoming members through an application process, she said.

“That doesn’t mean the group can’t have requirements, it just means that anybody can become a general member,” Wallace said. “We want students to find those opportunities and not feel isolated if they don’t get in.”

Despite the upcoming change in the way new students are introduced to NU, Josh McKenzie, the director of the first year experience, said he thinks students will meet it with acceptance and understanding, as it only serves to benefit them.

“I think in the long run, this will really help the experience of our first-year students and overall wellness in their transition here to the University,” he said. “I hope that students are able to see that side and the reasoning to doing that.”

Editor’s note: This story has been clarified to indicate that the recruitment freeze prohibits student groups from holding formal events aimed at recruiting new students. Groups will be allowed to hold non-recruitment events during the freeze.

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