By Eric Traughber
Recently, I’ve heard a wide variety of opinions regarding club visitation being replaced by a fourth-round mixer. My initial reaction upon hearing that visitation was being replaced was a mix of sadness and confusion. Who would want to replace a whole week of unscheduled and unplanned opportunities to meet an entire club of people with a set three-hour block of time where everyone is restricted to a set location with a limited amount of potential interactions?
The beauty of visitation (at least from the viewpoint of someone who has only been on the side of it while joining a club) was that there was so much freedom. I could freely go from room to room on my own time, meeting whoever I wanted whenever I wanted with whomever I wanted. It was almost an adventure of sorts, and some of my best friends today are the people with whom I went around adventuring while we were both joining men’s social club Chi Sigma Alpha. At the fourth-round mixers this week, there wasn’t as much opportunity for those kinds of spontaneous interactions. Everything was planned and set out — or at least, I didn’t see that much spontaneity, but that’s probably partly because I was only able to attend my mixer for an hour.
See, that’s the other problem with replacing visitation with a fourth-round mixer: if you were already busy Tuesday evening with a band rehearsal, a night class, a sports practice or really any prior commitment, you were extremely limited in your ability to meet other people. With visitation, you could just put your schedule on your door, block off the time and not worry about not being able to meet new people. If you were a new member, you could just not visit people during the times that you were busy, which was fine because you had a whole week to meet everyone. But with the fourth-round mixer, there was no other option. You couldn’t reschedule when people could visit you or when you were going to go visit other people; you simply had to miss out. That meant that for those of us who wanted a whole week to meet new people but had prior commitments, we only had maybe an hour, or maybe even no time at all to do so.
The other thing about visitation was that it was different. It wasn’t like the other mixers. You were able to meet the members of the club you were joining where they lived. You met them on their own turf and on their own time. For that reason alone, it was much more personal. Besides that, it gave the old members of the club the chance to practice hospitality — to truly welcome in the new members — even to the place where they lived; to create a deeper, more meaningful bond with each other just through being able to sit with them and visit for a while instead of feeling rushed to get to the next person before the mixer ends.
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like a special part of the club process was just tossed out by replacing visitation with a fourth-round mixer. Some of the depth of connection was lost, and frankly it was unfair to people who already had unavoidable plans Tuesday evening. Maybe in the future, they’ll find a way to improve fourth round to fix some of its issues or perhaps just go back to visitation altogether.