Greek life over the years

Since the members of the class of 2003 began their undergraduate careers, they have witnessed breakthroughs in the evolution of University Greek life, from its 150th anniversary to its remarkable growth in chapters and multiculturalism.

Last November marked the 150th anniversary of the University's first fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon.

Last semester also marked the anniversaries of three sororities, Chi Omega's 75th anniversary, Kappa Delta's 70th anniversary and Zeta Tau Alpha's 50th anniversary.

The University's second oldest fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, will turn 150 next year.

"We have now begun a period in which we are marking significant anniversaries," said Aaron Laushway, assistant dean of students and director of fraternity and sorority life.

The Greek system currently consists of four governing councils, the Inter-Fraternity Council, the Inter-Sorority Council, the Black Fraternal Council and the Multicultural Greek Council.

"In a lot of ways I feel like Greek life has stayed the same, and in certain ways it has evolved to take on a more political aspect than in years past," said graduating College student Mike Dunkley, a former BFC co-chair.

Currently the IFC includes 32 fraternities, the ISC includes 16 sororities, the BFC governs five fraternities and three sororities and the MGC governs three fraternities and four sororities, Laushway said.

At the time of his arrival in 1996, the IFC consisted of 33 fraternities, the ISC included 17 sororities, the BFC was composed of one fraternity and three sororities and the MGC was nonexistent, Laushway said.

A transfer student from the University of Maryland approached Laushway in 1999 about founding a chapter of Omega Phi Beta, a Latina sorority no longer active at the University.

"At that point there was discussion about where it belonged," Laushway said. "The discussion centered around the fact that the majority of fraternities in the IFC had national membership in the North-American Interfraternity Conference, the ISC sororities had national affiliations with the National Pan-Hellenic Conference and the BFC organizations belonged to the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc."

A Greek coordinating committee composed of members of the three Councils, administration, faculty and alumni proposed a fourth governing council, the Fraternity Sorority Council, for chapters without affiliations with a national conference, Laushway said.

"The new council grew very quickly and in the true spirit of student self-governance rewrote their constitution and bylaws [during the 2000-2001 school year] and renamed themselves the Multicultural Greek Council to reflect their emerging membership," Laushway said.

Since its establishment three years ago, the MGC has grown both in size and scope.

"I've seen lots of efforts and collaboration and I think if you see Greek life as system of eras, there was the mainstream period, the organizational period and now it's a multicultural period," said graduating Engineering student Emmanuel Smadja, MGC President for the 2002-2003 school year.

Smadja also addressed what he expects from inter-Council relations.

"Some people think in the future things will be very segregated -- that there will be an Asian fraternal council, a Latino fraternal council, etc.," Smadja said. "I'm actually on the other side -- I would like to see all the Councils merging because they all have something in common."

The creation of the Inter-Greek Committee last spring marked one of the first efforts to unite the four Councils.

"I saw a need for increased collaboration and communication between the four Councils," said rising fourth-year College student Ryan Ewalt, IFC president and IGC founder. "The IGC kind of pulled all the Councils together for a common purpose that the entire Greek system has."

Among the major policy changes within the Greek system were the ISC's Resolution 2000, which banned sorority mixers on fraternity property, and the IFC's limitation of house rentals to Greek organizations only, Ewalt said.

Another change within the Greek system was the creation of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life as a separate branch within the Office of the Dean of Students in July 2001, Laushway said.

"The office was created as a result of recommendations made by the Fraternity Working Group, an ad hoc task force commissioned by the President to study ways in which the University supported and interacted with fraternities and sororities," Laushway said.

Prior to the creation of the office, Laushway said he had other responsibilities in addition to serving as the University liaison to fraternities, sororities, alumni and national headquarters.

"In the past four years, within Greek system, the influence of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority life has been key in uniting all four Councils together," Dunkley said.

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