Knapp praises Greek-letter community growth

University President Steven Knapp discussed the growth of Greek-letter life on campus and its effects on the University at the second annual Greek Summit on Tuesday.

The discussion was organized by the president’s office to convene a dialogue between the administration and the Greek-letter community. Knapp said he has been amazed with Greek-letter life on campus since he arrived at GW.

“I am impressed by the growth, energy and vitality of the Greek community here,” Knapp said.

He added that fraternities and sororities have done a lot of community service.

“We have a reputation for having a body of highly engaged students,” Knapp said, citing Greek-letter life’s involvement in philanthropic endeavors.

He also addressed concerns about where the University could house new chapters.

City laws require that 80 percent of freshmen and sophomores be housed on campus. Knapp said that housing for new chapters is a difficult issue, but continuing to turn residence hall floors over to fraternities and sororities would be a solution.

Knapp also dispelled any rumors that a cap would be placed on the continuously growing Greek-letter community.

He encouraged participants in Greek-letter life to help with the University’s sustainability effort and said chapters housed on campus could be role models for the rest of GW if they engage in environmentally friendly activities.

A number of students spoke about their personal experiences with the Greek-letter community.

Senior Aakif Merchant, a member of Phi Kappa Psi, said his transition from India to the United States was made easier through his participation in a fraternity.

“I came to GW as a freshman and decided to join a fraternity to get the full American experience,” he said.

Andrew Metcalf, a junior in Pi Kappa Phi, said participation in Greek-letter life gave him the chance to bike across the country this summer to help to raise $500,000 for his fraternity’s philanthropy.

“Greek life in general offers those wearing letters opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise,” he said.

Tim Miller, the executive director of Student Activities Center, also spoke during the evening and expressed his support for the Greek-letter community.

“I’m honored, in my opinion and in many others’ opinions, to work with the best Greek life in the nation,” he said.

Miller said the power of the Greek-letter life is not necessarily found in its numbers.

“Greek life is not just about growth, but the quality of members,” he said.

In the past four years, Greek-letter life involvement has risen by almost 50 percent at GW. About 21.5 percent of students at GW participate in Greek-letter life, a number that some speculate could rise to 25 percent as early as next fall.

Dean Harwood, the director of Greek Life, said last year’s summit focused on how Greek-letter life originated on campus 150 years ago. In this summit, he focused on the size and strength of GW fraternities and sororities.

Harwood said, “Greek life here is healthy, balanced and growing.”

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