Small fraternities see chapter growth

Fewer men accepted bids during the Interfraternity Council’s rush this year, but the population of men in Greek life still reached an all-time high after the invitations were accepted.

The participating 15 chapters welcomed 276 new members after last week’s rush process, just slightly down from the 285 men that accepted bids last fall.

The fall numbers continue a trend of growth for smaller chapters. Kappa Sigma nearly doubled its size by inviting 31 new members to the 39-person chapter.

Chapter president Matt Pergamo said the chapter “simply did it with a lot of hard work.”

“It was a great rush for all the chapters this year and I’m glad Kappa Sigma could add to the growth of itself and the Greek community as a whole,” he said.

Chapters historically don’t share specific recruiting tactics but Pergamo said the participation of all its members was the key to the fraternity’s success.

Over the last three years, Kappa Sigma has experienced sustained growth, climbing from 21 members in the 2008-2009 academic year to 33 in 2009-2010. To handle the dramatic increase in members this year, Pergamo said Kappa Sigma will hold more brotherhood events to “maintain that small group feeling.”

“There will no doubt be growing pains, which every organization feels when something like this happens, but you simply have to take them in stride,” he added.

After losing 30 members last spring as part of a review in the aftermath of hazing charges, Sigma Phi Epsilon added 29 new members this fall, bringing its total membership up to 77 men.

Though the fraternity was one of the biggest on campus – reaching a peak in new membership in 2004 with 34 pledges – Will Richardson, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, said growth is not his primary concern.

“This group of guys we have now, we got back to the principles we were founded upon and the balanced man program that we are supposed to be doing but haven’t in the past,” Richardson, a junior, said. “We don’t want the most guys, we want the right guys.”

Richardson said this year’s core of men is committed to a combination of academics, physical health, philanthropy and social activities.

“That’s one of the reasons we got in trouble,” he said. “We wanted to grow, we wanted to be one of the biggest on campus, and sometimes when you do that, you don’t take the best guys.”

Theta Delta Chi has deep roots at GW but has historically maintained a small brotherhood. The chapter added four new members this fall to bring its chapter to a total of 11 men.

The tight-knit group experienced fluctuating growth in the last three years, but Theta Delta Chi President Alex Seher remains optimistic that focusing on brotherhood will allow the fraternity to develop a stronger presence on campus.

Seher credits a visit from the fraternity’s central office in 2009 as a spark that brought the organization from just three members that fall to 12 by the spring.

“We’ve been building back up since 2009 and I hope to keep going after recruitment,” Seher said. “Right now, we’re building the foundation for future brothers.”

With nearly 1,100 men in total, the Greek community continues to expand. The 15 fraternities that participated in fall rush brought in an average class of 18 men, with Kappa Sigma inviting the most men at 31 and Sigma Nu adding the least at three. Of the 17 chapters in the council, Kappa Alpha and Sigma Alpha Epsilon did not participate in fall rush, opting to pursue their own methods of recruitment.

Frank Gervasio, president of the Interfraternity Council, said he wants to start a fresh phase for fraternity life on campus, which represents 23 percent of the male population, after a series of hazing investigations last spring and the resignation of the former Interfraternity Council president last fall.

“We’ve turned a lot of that stuff around I think, and what we’re really going to try to do is to make sure that the progress we’ve made continues,” Gervasio said. “We want to make sure that a precedent is set so that next year and the year after that, things go smoothly and that the work we put in isn’t erased by anyone.”

Calvin Moore, vice president of Interfraternity Council recruitment, said the key to upholding growth is to keep up Greek life’s presence on campus through ongoing activities, philanthropy and leadership.

“Now that rush is over, I think the biggest way to continue to do that is to continue showing the positive impact that Greek life has on campus at GW,” he said.

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