ASA - Association of Student Activities

Policies & Rules

Recruitment Rules: Clarifications

The Recruitment Rules govern what actions are allowed and not allowed by student groups regarding recruitment of incoming undergraduate and graduate students. The rules are pertinent from Campus Preview Weekend in April until the end of the Activities Midway during Orientation in late August / early September.

The Recruitment Rules are not specific about what is and is not allowed behavior. Below, we provide some examples of questions groups might have about what is allowed, along with answers. This list is of necessity incomplete, both in terms of fully describing the situations listed and in listing all possible situations. Therefore, we encourage you to contact for definitive guidance.


Recruitment status of a long-running advertising campaign

For the past hundred years, every week, rain or shine, summer or winter, we have posted the same poster (the design is a bit dated...) announcing our weekly Friday night event. Can we continue to post it?
Yes. The poster is clearly not motivated by recruiting the new students.
I'm the newly elected Publicity Chair of my group. I've got an awesome idea for a new kind of posters that I'd like to use all this year. I just noticed that the Moratorium is starting soon, though. I'm planning on running the posters all year, not just during the Moratorium, so can I get started now? It's not really about the students who are freshly on campus.
Probably not. We'd prefer that you hold off a couple weeks, until after the Moratorium. (Or, do a couple weeks now, go on hiatus when the Moratorium begins, and then resume.) Too often people are motivated when there are a lot of new students are on campus, and genuinely intend to poster year-round, but the excitement wears off. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell the difference between that and having intended all along to just do it for three weeks (especially when we're trying to decide violations cases before the postering stops, because we want to have the option of taking away a Midway booth as punishment). To help us be fair, we generally just won't allow *any* postering that started around the Moratorium.
Since I got elected six months ago, I've been postering every week. Can I keep postering during the Moratorium?
Probably. Since it sounds like it will be unambiguously clear to us that this is not intended to recruit the new students in particular, we would probably allow this. However, we encourage you to contact us just to be sure.

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Advertising for seasonal events

Due to the seasonal calendar, one of our four main events needs to fall slightly after the moratorium. We usually poster and advertise in The Tech in the three weeks leading up to these event, which intersects with the Moratorium. The event isn't intended to recruit at all, nor does our typical advertising. Can we poster as usual?
Probably. You should contact us, but (assuming we agree that the event is not recruiting) it is unlikely we would have an issue with this.
We run a year long series, targeted mostly at upperclassmen. Sign-ups really need to happen right around the Moratorium. Can we send advertisements to dorm and departmental lists? It's not like there's many new students on them yet.
Probably. But you should contact us before you do so.
Every summer, we run a special advertising series. Can we continue to run it up until classes start (including through the Moratorium)?
Unclear. You should contact us with more details so we can make a determination.

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Informal conversations

I'm really excited about my group (or an event some group is running). Can I tell the frosh on my hall about it?
If it comes up in natural conversation (for example, somebody mentions some activity that you're involved in, asks what you do for fun, or if you're doing anything that night) then yes. However, actively starting such conversations would not be appropriate.

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Emailing people who contact you

A prefrosh emailed our group during the Moratorium asking how to join. [Alternatively: "asking what events were upcoming", or "asking when we meet".] What should we say?

This is a hard question to answer without more specifics.

In general, please limit your response to encouraging the student to come to the Midway and ask you questions then. Please do not tell the student about other events (during or after the Moratorium), your regular meetings, auditions, etc..

That said, if the student seems particularly excited, feel free to send us their email and a proposed response and we'll let you know if it's okay.

A prefrosh emailed our group during the summer. What can we say?

As long as you reply before the Moratorium, the recruitment rules mostly don't restrict what you can say.

However, you should not particularly encourage them to come to your meetings or events during the Moratorium, as that tends to turn those meetings or events into recruiting.

As an example, mentioning well before the Moratorium "We meet every Tuesday. You should stop by on September 4th." is fine (as is mentioning if they ask that yes, you'll be there on the 28th, but it's not intended for new people). Saying "We're having this awesome event on the 28th. You should come!" is not.

Several incoming MIT students have given their names to a national organization that asked them if they wanted to be recruited by the MIT chapter of this group. May we contact them?

Except during the Moratorium, yes. Since the students gave their contact information with the intention that it be forwarded to you, this is the same as them having contacted you directly; you are permitted to contact those students under the "Spring through Summer" rules.

However, if you wish to contact them during the Moratorium, please contact us for permission.

See above about what you can say.

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Standing exceptions and granting exceptions

The groups below have some form of limited standing exception to parts of the recruitment rules.
  • Undergraduate dormitories: recruiting (REX) is allowed during the weeks leading up to the Midway
  • Graduate Student Council and graduate dormitories: Grad Student Orientation is generally permissible. It should not be an opportunity for group recruitment, however.
  • Athletics Gateway: club sports are permitted to advertise at the Athletics Gateway. The Club Sports Council (or its agents) may advertise the Gateway, though said advertisements should not include specific sports.
We're not listed above, but every year, we've gotten an exception from the recruitment rules (because we're an extra-special group) to fly a blimp over the campus advertising to frosh. Not being listed above was an oversight, and we can keep doing this, right?
Possibly, but you must contact us in advance. If we didn't list you above, there's a good chance we've forgotten about any agreement, in which case it'd embarass all of us when we tried to fine you. (Plus, we might not consider ourselves bound by a past agreement, and the discussion will be much more pleasant if we talk before the possible violation.)
We're working with the MIT Office of Important Acronyms (OIA) to put on an event for the incoming students. They said we're "all set" have the event. That means we don't need to worry about the recruitment rules, right?
Only the ASA can grant exceptions to the recruitment rules, and working with an MIT office does not mean you have an exception. You should directly contact the ASA to verify that what you are doing is okay, and work with us to modify your participation until it is (if necessary). As always, a response from the ASA is required; do not assume that you are set because you notified us.
We really need to recruit before the Moratorium. What should we do?
We have an event that works best before the Midway, but has limited recruitment implications. By a strict reading, this event would be a violation of the recruitment rules, but we'd really like to hold it. What should we do?
The examples above include something that seems like a good match for what we're trying to do, but the response doesn't seem quite right because the situation is weird in some way. What should we do?

In limited circumstances, the ASA has been willing to grant (typically limited and narrowly-defined) exceptions to (parts of) the recruitment rules. If you have good reason to believe that an exception is appropriate, contact us at to discuss.

In general, an exception is unlikely if granting the exception seems likely to work against the recruitment rules goals. In contrast, if we think granting an exception seems likely to help the goals, an exception is relatively likely.

For complicated cases, we recommend contacting us in early summer to give ample time for discussion. If you contact us later, we will still consider your request. However, you should keep in mind that the default, if the board can't discuss reasonably in time, is "no exception". Board discussions, especially over the summer, often take a long time, so contacting us early is likely to work best.

I've always heard "It's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission." What's your stance?
For recruitment rules, we emphatically disagree. If you request an exception in advance, we are relatively likely to grant it. If we are concerned about a violation, the likelihood that we would have granted an exception will generally play little to no role in our decision.
We asked for an exception or clarification, but haven't heard back yet. What should we do?
If you haven't heard anything in several days, or if a deadline is coming up, feel free to poke us again. Don't assume you got an exception unless you have gotten an affirmative statement from the ASA.

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Please contact for any of the many possible questions not listed here.