Greek Council looks to add new fraternity, sorority to address growing student demand

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In response to the record number of students participating in Spring and Fall 2014 Greek recruitment, Occidental’s Greek Council has invited the cultural sorority Delta Sigma Theta to Occidental and will choose a new social fraternity to invite as well.

According to Assistant Director of Student Life, Student Activities and Greek Life Diego Silva, the Greek Council is also considering inviting another cultural fraternity and national sorority in order to accommodate the increased interest in Greek life, although the timeline for adding these additional two Greek organizations remains unclear.

“We’re looking to grow, but not that much because we’re not the type of campus to have that many Greek organizations,” Silva said.

Both Greek and non-Greek students expressed interest in adding a cultural sorority and social fraternity, according to Greek Council President and Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) member Christian Wolfgram (senior).

To provide that opportunity, Greek Council sent out an open invitation this summer for national fraternities to contend for a chapter at Occidental. According to Wolfgram, the council received eleven requests, which they narrowed down to Phi Delta Theta, Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) and possibly one more that will be decided Thursday.

“We’re looking for an organization that’s willing to be flexible with the uniqueness of our Greek system,” Wolfgram said.

Local representatives from each candidate fraternity will have a chance to present to the Greek Council, the dean of students and interested students and faculty this semester. Once the Greek Council selects a fraternity, the dean of students will extend an official invitation for the fraternity’s national representative to establish the chapter. The entire process of becoming a fully recognized chapter can happen in as fast as a year.

While a new fraternity could be established as early as Fall 2015, the Greek Council is unsure about the timeline for a new sorority.

According to Silva, the Greek Council approved Delta Sigma Theta, a traditionally African American national sorority, Fall 2013 in order to offer more space for bids. However, the process was halted because Delta Sigma Theta recently elected a new national president who put a moratorium on expansion and recruitment—as many Greek organizations did—to combat the culture of hazing during recruitment.

“They needed to do some soul searching to figure out what they would do to prevent hazing at all their different chapters,” Silva said. “Whenever they’re ready to come to campus we’re still ready to have them. When that is and what that looks like is kind of up in the air.”

The Greek Council hopes for timely progress on the introduction of new organizations. According to Silva, about 17 percent of Occidental students are members of a Greek organization, and membership is expected to rise to 22 percent after spring recruitment. All five of Occidental’s Greek organizations became closed-bid in 2013 when pledge classes hit record highs and organizations began pushing the 100-member limit.

“Any organization in the triple digits is dangerous ground,” Silva said. “You have more members than you can manage and things just start to fall through the cracks and then the value of your Greek membership goes down.”

Two students, who asked to remain anonymous, expressed their opposition to the expansion of Greek life. They believe that the appeal of getting a bid is due in part to the exclusivity in Greek organizations.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” one student said.

Despite some disapproval, about 10 to 15 students expressed interest in this potential new fraternity.

Sam Ravetz (junior) is eager to be a founding member of whichever fraternity is elected because he and his friends feel that SAE and Phi Kappa Psi are polar communities.

“We are looking to bring on another fraternity because, while we think the ones currently on campus bring a lot to the school and to the community, there’s no real middle road between the fraternities,” Ravetz said.

FIJI had a chapter at Occidental until the 1960s, so Ravetz thinks its potential alumni relations make it the top contender. But his main goal is to bring an organization to campus that offers a home to students that could not find one before.

“I don’t think it matters to us which fraternity comes, because we have a big say in how it will be represented and what the values are and how Occidental and the outside community perceives us,” Ravetz said.