Crowding Colonies

The Observer

This month, hundreds of Case Western Reserve University students hurried from one social event to another, sampling Greek chapters and agonizing over which would be the best fit for them. This past week, they finally discovered which chapters would like them to join their ranks and the increasingly large CWRU Greek community.

Post spring recruitment, many chapters now have over 100 members. As a result, the small, exclusive feeling associated with these organizations has been diminished. Recently, the Office of Housing, Residence Life and Greek Life has attempted to resolve the problem by having entirely new chapters colonize on campus.

But does CWRU really need the new chapters? Currently, there are 16 fraternities and eight sororities on campus, with new colonies of both arriving this year. Adding two new Greek organizations per year seems to be an emerging tradition at the university, which welcomed Pi Beta Phi for women and Delta Sigma Phi for men last year.

Leaving mere months between new chapters simply doesn’t seem like enough distance. After all, if there are 16 or eight options to choose from, wouldn’t that be enough for a student considering going Greek? And, are there even any students left to recruit at this point? Surely those students who are motivated to join the Greek community could find their niche in the current buffet of available options.

By bringing additional sororities and fraternities to campus, it seems as though the university wants to make being “unaffiliated” seem like an unacceptable option. According to US News & World Report, approximately 36 percent of the campus’ undergraduates are a part of the Greek community already. This is drastically higher than the national average; approximately 9 percent of female and 8.4 percent of male undergraduate students were a member of a Greek organization last year according to the same survey.

Focusing on colonizing new chapters also draws attention away from those Greek organizations that are in a troubled state. Some chapters are failing to meet their recruitment quota during rush season and are sporting significantly low grade point averages. For instance, Phi Kappa Theta, the lowest ranked fraternity in the university’s Fall 2013 grade report, sported a 2.569 average GPA and recruited only 3 new members. Not to mention that in the past years, CWRU has removed chapters from campus due to other, more severe problems. (Sammy, anyone?)

However, the colonizing chapters argue that colonization will end when a university ceases to show interest in new Greek chapters. If this is true, then there still must be interest among non-affiliated students of CWRU. Otherwise, new chapters would stop promoting themselves on our campus. Colonizing chapters do have to fill quota in order to operate, and the CWRU newcomers—Pi Kappa Phi and Sigma Sigma Sigma—are confident they can meet the challenge.

From their point of view, new chapters can help and support each other in the process of establishing themselves on campus instead of undermining each other and stealing each other’s prospective members.

There may be benefits and interest in bringing another chapter to CWRU, but it is too much too soon. At this moment, it is safe to assume that each non-affiliated student at CWRU has a good reason not to go Greek and they should not be pressured by the Division of Student Affairs—the umbrella organization under which the Office of Housing, Residence Life and Greek Life falls—to change their minds. Instead, the university should focus its energy on strengthening and reviving the existing chapters, so that the credible reputation of CWRU Greek Life can be sustained, if not improved.