Greek life has become a major part of the undergraduate experience at GW. This semester, the University announced that the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Association and the Multicultural Greek Council would all add chapters in the next few years. On top of this, GW also announced that by 2018, formal recruitment will only be in the spring.
Choosing to add chapters at the same time as implementing deferred recruitment may sound like a lot of change in the Greek community at once. But these changes are positives and will benefit both the Greek and non-Greek communities on campus. Students interested in Greek life will have more choices, and they will have more time on campus to decide if it is right for them. These changes will also regulate how many students join Greek life, keeping Greek members to a third of the undergraduate student population.
While Greek life on campus is a minority at only one-third of the student body, it is sizable compared to other universities. Aside from Duke University and Northwestern University, GW has a larger percentage of Greek students than most of its peer institutions and than large state schools like Ohio State University, which has a Greek population of just 12 percent. GW isn’t all about Greek life – and many students coming here probably didn’t choose the University for its Greek chapters – so it’s important for GW to make sure that the ratio of affiliated to unaffiliated students doesn’t rise.
Even though the percentage of students in Greek life should not rise, it’s smart to add chapters. With the number of students wanting to go through recruitment, it’s GW’s responsibility to make Greek life accessible and comfortable for interested students. Two fraternities and one sorority have left campus over the last two years, which has given students fewer options for chapters to join. Adding chapters will help keep up with student interest and keep pledge class sizes small.
Interfraternity Council President Brandon Capece said he put expansion on his short list of goals to accomplish.
“This past fall, only 48 percent of people who registered for recruitment were placed into chapters. What this means in practical terms is that there are several hundred people still looking for a chapter to join,” Capece said in an email. “Expansion for the IFC is our way of offering more opportunities to join a chapter than what currently exists.”
While new chapters will be coming to campus soon, space and housing on campus aren’t increasing. Now that International House isn’t just for Greek housing, and Greek housing affinities aren’t allowed on campus, new chapters will have to vie for existing space.
But less space for housing chapters could be a positive. Greek chapters often lose their houses when they are put on sanctions. If there are more Greek chapters and less available housing, officials can use housing as a reward for good behavior within chapters.
As Greek councils continue to add chapters, it’s important that officials are forthcoming to incoming and prospective students about Greek life here. Incoming students need honest perspectives on how much of the social scene on campus is about Greek life and ways to consider if it is really for them. Deferring recruitment is a good start.
By deferring recruitment, freshmen will have more time to settle into GW and decide if Greek life is something they really want to be involved in. Despite some Greek leaders not being satisfied with officials’ decision to defer recruitment, it will be beneficial to the Greek community overall. Students who choose to go through recruitment will want to be active members in the Greek community, rather than rushing because their roommates are all doing it the third week of school.
Greek life isn’t going anywhere. It’s an intrinsic part of the undergraduate experience, but it should also remain a minority of the undergraduate student population. By adding chapters and deferring recruitment, the the Greek community can grow while also providing a comfortable environment for both Greek students and unaffiliated students.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Melissa Holzberg and contributing opinions editor Irene Ly, based on discussions with managing director Eva Palmer, culture editor Grace Gannon, homepage editor Tyler Loveless and contributing sports editor Matt Cullen.