Greeks mark 150 years

Members of Greek-letter organizations from the past 60 years gathered Friday evening at the Elliott School of International Affairs to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Greek-letter life at GW.

Mark Forrest, the associate director of clubs and groups for the Office of Alumni Relations, said the gathering was a time for alumni to network with each other and with current students preparing to enter the workplace.

“Greek alumni are from all industries, so they provide great connections to students now in sororities and fraternities,” Forrest said.

Those alumni present recalled how fraternity or sorority involvement enhanced their undergraduate experience.

“When I attended GW, there wasn’t really a mechanism for social gatherings,” said Geoff Taylor, a member of the class of 1969 and Sigma Alpha Epsilon. “We didn’t have the Smith Center or things like it. Fraternities built you into the school.”

Senior Shaylah Stewart, a member of Alpha Delta Pi, said Greek-letter life is a great way to unite the University.

“A city campus like GW doesn’t provide many ways to bring the entire University together,” Stewart said. “Greek life is one way to accomplish that.”

Senior Kristen Konopka, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, recounted a meeting she had with one of her sisters from a previous class.

“There were only 20 girls in the chapter while she was involved in the ’70s because during that time the women’s movement made it unfashionable to be involved in a sorority,” Konopka said.

Other attendees had similar stories to tell. A group of women from Kappa Kappa Gamma was involved with the sorority during the height of World War II.

“All of the men were gone, so we became especially close,” said Patricia McGee, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. The members volunteered at hospitals, hosted blood drives and held other wartime jobs to aid in the effort.

Most of the members of Greek-letter life present said there have been positive changes to fraternities and sororities since they attended the University.

Richard Meade, a 1965 graduate and member of Delta Tau Delta, said he was pleased with the decision to revive its chapter.

“Before, these organizations were fundamentally segregated because they reflected the society of the time,” he said, “I’m glad to see that it has changed for the better.”

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