Occidental students had the opportunity to rush Greek organizations on campus the week of Oct. 4. Recruitment was open to sophomores, juniors and seniors looking to join Occidental’s six Greek organizations, and was the college’s first in-person Greek recruitment since Spring 2020.
The college’s Greek organizations include four sororities: Alpha Lambda Phi Alpha, Delta Omicron Tau, Kappa Alpha Theta and Sigma Lambda Gamma. The college also has one fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and one gender-neutral organization, Zeta Tau Zeta.
According to Haley Jones* (senior), the president of the Greek Council that oversees the college’s Greek organizations, fall recruitment added 23 new members to Occidental’s Greek life, bringing total membership to over 150 students. Jones said students are not allowed to rush Greek organizations until the spring of their first year due to Greek Council bylaws, but there was still interest amongst the other class years.
“The consensus on campus was that there was a lot of interest in Greek Life,” Jones said via email. “People have been on Zoom all year, and everyone really wanted to meet new people and form connections.”
The COVID-19 pandemic affected Greek life significantly, according to Kate Anderson (junior), the vice president of recruiting for Greek Council. According to Anderson, the traditional rush experience — which includes visiting the organizations in person and getting to know the members through a series of different events, such as dinners or games — was online during the Fall 2020 semester.
Seth Lipe (junior), the recruitment chair for Sigma Alpha Epsilon, said he rushed online in Spring 2021. It was difficult to navigate rush over Zoom, Lipe said, but his experience with the events mirrored a traditional year.
Greek life at Occidental and across the nation has faced some controversy. According to Jones, one of the goals of the Greek Council is to encourage the more positive aspects of Greek life. Jones stressed the difference between the toxic culture of most Greek organizations at larger colleges and Occidental.
“We are open to any criticism people may have, but encourage people to ask us in a way to keep us accountable, rather than assuming we are not pushing to make Greek life better,” Jones said via email.
Rachel Eaton (senior), president of the Delta Omicron Tau sorority, said she never thought she would be in a sorority.
“I met some girls who I really liked who were in Delta,” Eaton said. “Now this is a very big part of my life.”
Jones said that Greek life on campus is trying to be more inclusive overall. According to Jones, Greek Council held a diversity panel Oct. 1 to share what actions each organization is taking to achieve higher levels of diversity and manage membership dues for students who might not be able to afford them.
“We had a representative from each organization sit and talk about their place in Greek life, acknowledge how Greek life can be a very toxic environment. And then talk about specifically how their organizations are combating that — whether it’s through positions or events or philanthropy or whatnot. How they’re erasing the stigma of Greek life and making it more inclusive at Oxy,” Jones said.
Sigma Lambda Gamma, the college’s multicultural sorority, did not participate in recruiting this fall, according to their Vice President of Finance, Andrea Marquez. Marquez said Sigma Lambda Gamma is waiting until the spring, when first years can rush as well.
“We don’t refer to it as rushing, but rather a journey,” Marquez said. “We really want to give folks the opportunity to choose what they want to be a part of.”
Marquez said her big focuses for the year are making connections with fellow members and inclusivity.
“Being back on campus gives us that opportunity to sit down and check in with one another,” Marquez said. “We do come from different backgrounds. We have been talking a lot about collaborating with affinity clubs on campus, and seeing how we can actually create a space for all women of color.”
Mali Abel (sophomore) participated in fall recruitment. Abel said she never thought she would join a Greek organization, but was excited by the people she had met during the process.
“It took me a while to realize that Oxy’s Greek life isn’t like Greek life at other schools,” Abel said. “It’s a great way to find a community. Everybody was so sweet.”
According to Danny Kim (junior), a recruitment chair for Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the fraternity traditionally hosts pickup basketball Monday night, followed by philanthropy night on Tuesday and a dinner on Wednesday. Pickup basketball — an outdoor event — was canceled due to a thunderstorm.
Olivia Enos (senior), the chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer of Kappa Alpha Theta said she was excited to live in the Kappa Alpha Theta house and to bond with the new members and those that joined last year over Zoom.
“It’s really nice to connect with the people that I didn’t know because of the pandemic,” Enos said. “It’s been a really nice way to keep building community when it’s easy to not have that anymore.”
*Haley Jones is a staff writer for The Occidental.