As rush winds down this week, most of the Bicultural InterGreek Council's fraternities and sororities are preparing to recruit new members. The BIG-C -- a national organization that currently has six Philadelphia-area chapters affiliated with Penn -- is composed of African-American, Latino and Asian fraternities and sororities, each with a focus on community service and each with individual rush and intake processes. Currently, there are fewer than 20 Penn students in BIG-C chapters. Despite these numbers, Penn's BIG-C President Chris Padilla is optimistic about this year's recruitment process. "There's definitely going to be a lot of growth," the College junior said. "Interest in the BIG-C organizations has increased lately." The rush process for the BIG-C is drastically different than that for other fraternities and sororities at Penn. BIG-C rush is overseen by a local graduate chapter, extends well beyond a two-week period, and is neither as structured as sorority rush nor as casual as fraternity rush. "When I think of rush, I think of getting people interested in your organization," Padilla said. "For us, rush is essentially all-year round. It's about events for the community, and it's geared toward getting [rushees] to know the" the groups. Program Coordinator for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Larry Moses is enthusiastic about this year's rush. "We're very excited this year because we feel that our membership numbers are going to increase," Moses said. Partly, rushees might be attracted to BIG-C groups because their fraternities and sororities are not confined to Penn's campus -- this distinguishes them even more from the other fraternities and sororities at Penn. "Almost all of our BIG-C groups are citywide chapters," Moses said. "They encompass students not only from Penn, but from Drexel, St. Joe's, Swarthmore, College of the Sciences. And that's where we're different." Penn's BIG-C groups -- Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Lambda Upsilon Lambda, Lambda Phi Epsilon and Sigma Gamma Rho -- also do not have formally recognized houses where members of each fraternity or sorority live, although it seems that new rushees might look forward to housing sometime soon. "That's something that has been an ongoing goal, and we will work toward that some day," Moses said. "We've always been looking very hard toward that possibility, and it is something in the very near future that I could see happening." Once rush begins and new potential members are exposed to the BIG-C for the first time, they may be struck by the high degree of graduate involvement. With graduate chapters composed of hundreds of members, joining a BIG-C group might be a decision that colors the rest of a member's life. "The BIG-C really promotes a lifetime commitment," Moses said. "It's not so much exclusively a collegiate experience."
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