Greek System, pt. 1

1 07 2008



Traditionally, the Greek system at Cornell has seen several periods of growth and contraction (1). In the previous half century, primary periods of growth occurred in the 1950s, 1980s, and at the current time. Inversely, periods of contraction occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, and in the mid and late 1990s heading into the early 2000s.

From Gumprecht’s essay concerning Greek life:

Changing attitudes toward fraternities are having an impact. Nationwide, fraternity membership declined 30 percent between 1990 and 2000. At thedawn of the twenty-first century, “Greek life is . . . a tough sell,” according toRichard McKaig, director of the Center for the Study of the College Fraternityat Indiana University.


40 At Cornell, membership fell 11.2 percent between1996 and 2001. Three chapter houses closed. Cornell fraternity members refer to the time before the new social rules were implemented as “the good old days.”41 Nevertheless, Greek life remains an integral part of student life at Cornell,which had forty-four fraternities and twenty-one sororities in 2001. Roughly one-quarter of undergraduates were members. The continued importanceof fraternities and sororities, and the prominence of their chapter housesin the built environment (see Figure 8), suggest that the fraternity district willremain a distinctive attribute of college towns well into the future.

Numbers at Cornell fraternities have increased considerably since the publishing of Gumprecht’s paper in 2002. Documents obtained from the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs at Cornell University (2) indicate that numbers have increased about 16.9% in the past five years. Sorority numbers, however, have reamined stable over the past several years, with a small peak in 2004-2005. – Dr. Blake Gumprecht, UNH 2002



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