Greek System, Pt. 2

2 07 2008

So, Cornell is known for having the second largest Greek system in the entire nation in terms of numbers. Pulling the data as I often love to do, the latest OFSA report indicates that out of the undergraduate student body of the university, 2,208 of 6,908 men were in fraternities, and 1,527 of 6,654 undergarduate women. were in sororities. Percentage-wise, that comes out to 31.96% and 22.94% respectively [1].

 It has always been my personal thought that the relative strictness of the Panhellanic Association, the governing body of sororities, has been the primary factor in the smaller amout of women in sororities. Their rush is a very strict system where girls visit all houses, talk for a few minutes with a sister at each house, and then each house selects the rushees they like, each rushees selects the three houses they like, and through some complex form of elimination and incrasing formality of clothing, hopefully a girl ends up in a house she desires to be in. The process is rigid and intense, and if a sorority rushees misses one component, she’s out of the process. My experience with the sororities suggests that they are all homogenous to some extent; other than some physical appearances and some mild differences in attitude, they’re all at least somewhat alike (I do have a personal preference to one, but it’s best not to disclose names).

Meanwhile, the rush procedures for fraternties is an entirely different animal. Guys are free to visit any house they wish in any order they wish. The house on North Campus and the houses on West Campus have specified hours for smokers, which are open houses. The terms smokers hails from back in the day, when rushees and brothers of a house would gather around and smoke cigars while getting accquainted with each other (most houses have done away with that aspect, although some do offer cigars if rushees are into that). Each houses has its own schedule of events otherwise; it;s up to the rushee to decide whether or not to attend a houses events. With any luck, he’ll find a house he likes, and the brothers will take a liking to him and extend a bid. If the bid is accepted, then he’s officially a pledge, and it goes from there.

I will say that I’m a member of a Greek organization. It serves me well for keeping in tracks of news on the Greek system. For the purposes of this blog, however, it would be meaningless to say which I am a part of. I am not here to espouse opinions about X frat or Y sorority.

In the meantime, I’d like to open the topic of two curious occurences in the Greek system from the past semester. Recently, Theta Xi and Delta Lambda Phi. Theta Xi was at one time an established organization on Cornell’s campus; they live in the house where Zeta Psi currently lives today. Although it was a b*tch to locate, it would appear that Theta Xi closed down its Cornell chapter in 1971 [3]. The newly reinstated Zeta Chapter seems to be reaching out primarily to transfer students; providing they can figure out a way to cater to the transfer student population (15% of Cornell is comprised of transfers), they could possibly establish themselves very nicely here at Cornell once again. Although, knowing that fraternities like Alpha Gamma Rho and Alpha Zeta have large transfer populations (agricultural fraternties that receive a large number of two-year students heading to Cornell), it could potentially create some tension.

As for Delta Lamdba Phi, I am just a little doubtful of them being very successful. DLP is a national social fraternity geared towards gay, bisexual and proressive men [2]. Apparently, they have extablished a colony at Cornell. While Cornell does have a notable homosexual population, most fraternities do not raise much of an issue when it comes to accepting a gay student as a member. I can think of several fraternties off hand that have openly gay brothers. Cornell already has an organization, Greeks United, that addresses homophobia in the Greek system and seeks to educate and ultimately eliminate the issue. That being considered, there’s not as large of a niche to be exploited, and i can’t see this fraternity ever having a substantial presence on campus; I doubt they’ll even manage to have a house. But, that is a personal thought, and I could be wrong; I often am.

If we go back a little further, Kappa Alpha Society, which closed in 1990, reestablished itself about a year ago. I haven’t heard much about them since, apart from seeing one Kappa Alpha pin on a guy when I was eating a dinner on West Campus last spring. Can’t say I’ve heard much otherwise, but my kindest regards to them and I hope that all is going well with the reestablishment of their chapter.






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