Sarah Irby, Editor in Chief~
The Greek System is as old as the United States itself, with the first established fraternity dating back to 1776; however, fraternity and sorority life didn’t have a presence on Lynchburg College’s campus until over two centuries later, in 1992. Sixteen percent of the student population at LC is involved in one of the 11 chapters that are active on campus, but how exactly does the system work?
A majority of the Greek organizations at LC fall under either the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), if it’s a sorority, or the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) if it’s a fraternity. NIC also has an Interfraternity Council on campuses that helps oversee chapters.
At LC, there are four sororities and four fraternities that are part of these associations:
- Alpha Chi Omega
- Alpha Sigma Alpha
- Kappa Delta
- Sigma Sigma Sigma Phi Delta Theta
- Phi Kappa Tau
- Sigma Nu
- Sigma Phi Epsilon
Recruitment varies between the two groups. According to Thomas DiRoma, assistant director of student involvement, NPC is an umbrella organization that manages its member groups, who have all signed unanimous agreements. NIC is a trade organization that provides guidelines and best practices for its members.
NPC organizations have a formalized recruitment, whereas NIC members on our campus have a specified week where they host informal events to attract new members.
DiRoma said that sororities are structured because of the agreements they follow; they actively talk about the components of their chapter through sisterhood night, philanthropy night and preference night.
The chart below shows the number of registered PNMs for 2016 and 2017, how many attended each night of recruitment and how many were matched to sororities at the end of the week is shown below.
Fraternity members on our campus spend time with interested students by participating in activities throughout the week such as bowling, video games or sports, with an invitation-only event on the final night.
Because of these two vastly different approaches, results vary between fraternities and sororities.
“Men’s fraternities have difficulty recruiting guys, but they retain very well; women’s organizations tend to recruit well, but retention is a little alarming,” said DiRoma.
The data supports DiRoma’s assertion. In the fall of 2016, only 18 men joined fraternities on campus, and 29 men joined in the spring of 2017. Sororities received 43 new members in the spring of 2016 and 61 new members in the spring of 2017.
According to the NPC, its combined 26 member organizations reported a total of 155,357 women who were pledged into membership in the 2016-17 academic year; of those women, 150,713 were initiated, which showed a retention rate of 97 percent.
However, retention rate currently seems to be decreasing at LC, and this is the first year DiRoma is actively keeping track of drop rates.
There are many reasons why a Greek member might choose to self-terminate, such as lack of time to participate or money for dues, as well as just the feeling that a certain organization isn’t right for them. Members can also be removed from a chapter if they fail to meet certain standards.
Junior Amy “Sunny” Clough joined Greek life because she thought it would allow her to forge close relationships. In the end, Clough decided to drop letters not only because she couldn’t afford the semester dues at the time, but because she felt that none of her sisters were legitimately interested in getting to know her.
“We’d talk at events … and we’d like each other’s posts on social media, but other than that, it was really superficial and not genuine. I’d go to parties on campus and run into groups of [sisters] and they’d completely ignore me,” Clough stated.
While issues like the latter need to be addressed amongst individual chapters, DiRoma stated that they are beginning to actively push more information to PNMs regarding requirements and cost of dues before recruitment begins, so that they can decide for themselves early on whether or not going out is a viable option.
There are certainly pros and cons that have to be weighed in a decision to join any social organization, but some create more pressure than others. For example, if an initiated sister of an NPC sorority decides to self-terminate her membership, she is not eligible to join any other member organization.
However, there are some organizations which allow members to join an alumnae chapter after graduation, even if they self-terminated during their undergraduate career.
While some Greek organizations have been caught in the limelight recently for hazing and other violations, it is important to note that the actions of a few should not stereotype the group as a whole. There are a variety of opportunities to be found in Greek life, and members are often held to higher standards.
While some students thrive well in a setting that fosters a strong brotherhood or sisterhood, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. It is important for those interested in Greek life to understand just how the system works before they go on the search for their new “home” in a brother- or sisterhood.
- Thomas DiRoma – Assistant Director of Student Involvement – 434.544.8527 or DiRoma_t@lynchburg.edu
- Lynchburg College Standardized RFM reports
- Amy Clough – firstname.lastname@example.org
- National Panhellenic Conference website/Annual reports – http://npcwomen.org/news/annual-reports/
- North-American Interfraternity Conference website – http://nicindy.org/press/fraternity-statistics/