There seems to be two possible reasons for the Facebook blackout. One, to “avoid decisions — about where to pledge and who to allow in — being made based on preconceptions and stereotypes,” relying instead on “old-fashioned, face-to-face contact.”
And the other? To maintain secrecy and confidentiality. Apparently, the National Panhellenic Conference disapproves of dirty rushing — “interaction with potential new members outside of rush during recruitment week” — which is ever so easy via Facebook, especially when information about others are fed too you automatically.
One consequence of this attempt to prevent communication among pledges and members is, of course, the cutting-off of pledges from the rest of their Facebook community (perhaps that is intentional). It would be a fascinating bit of ethnography to follow some of these young women to see how they cope with being without Facebook for such a long stetch.
And, as an aside, I chuckled when I read the opening line of the story: “The freshmen in Marquette University’s Weasler Auditorium twittered with excitement as an enthusiastic pair of sorority sisters promised to learn everything about them during recruitment week, starting with their favorite boy band.” First, do college freshmen really still listen to “boy bands”? And second, I wonder if the reporter recognizes the doube entendre of her use of the verb “twittered”….