The Interfraternity Council’s spring recruitment ended earlier this month with more people joining a Greek-letter group this year than any year in recorded history.
Last academic year, 277 male students joined a Greek-letter organization compared to this year’s 290. While GW’s Office of Greek Life does not have complete records for participation in groups, records available show that there has been a 22 percent increase in fraternity membership at GW since 2003.
Jon Williamson, executive vice president of the North-American Interfraternity Conference, said there has been a 2 to 3 percent increase in fraternity membership nationally each year since 2001.
“When you dig down, it’s about having friends,” Williamson said. “Friendship never goes out of style, and fraternities can provide lifelong friendships.”
“Men are still driven (to join fraternities) by the same basic beliefs,” Williamson said. “These beliefs include lifelong friendship, the opportunity to work with others, a dedication to the greater good through community service and working for knowledge to help society at large.”
Over the course of Greek life’s history at GW, 49 IFC fraternities have been on campus at some point, including several that merged or became other Greek-letter organizations, according to the Office of Greek Life’s Web site. Today, there are 14 recognized IFC fraternities on campus.
Next year, the IFC will celebrate the sesquicentennial of the first fraternity on campus. The Washington City Rho chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon came to GW in 1858, but lost recognition with the University in 1994 after repeated policy violations.
University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said the increased popularity of fraternities and sororities at GW has been a gradual change over the years.
“Back in the day, (Greek Life) was less responsible,” Trachtenberg said. “Today, they’ve become a more positive force on campus. They’re fun, and a good social support system, but they have a more serious commitment.”
Trachtenberg said the University has made a commitment to encouraging the growth of Greek-letter groups and buildings like Townhouse Row on 23rd Street, which opened in 2003 to house some Greek-letter organizations, are evidence of that.
“(Greek life) has come a long way,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll ever be a big Greek university since there are too many alternatives. But, there is plenty of room for those who do want to get involved.”
Freshman Bobby Roglieri, a new member of Pi Kappa Phi, said that he initially didn’t consider joining a fraternity.
“I went to a few of the events and found that I felt like I was back at home with family and friends,” Roglieri said, adding that as the “brotherhood spreads out” and gains a stronger presence on campus, more freshmen are inspired to join.
All of the IFC’s fraternities on campus hold spring recruitment events while only a few of the Panhellenic Association sororities sponsor spring recruitment events. GW’s other Greek-letter group governing councils – the Multicultural Greek Council and the Pan-Hellenic Association – have different recruitment procedures.