Jeff Tyndall / Lantern photographer
Since the beginning of President E. Gordon Gee’s second term as university president, Ohio State Greek life has seen a 73 percent increase in members as of 2011, and Gee said he would like to see those numbers increase even more.
Gee has heavily expressed his dedication to the advancement of sorority and fraternity life because of the involvement opportunities it provides, said Sharrell Hassell-Goodman, assistant director to sorority and fraternity life.
“Every time I see President Gee he says, ‘How are numbers looking?'” she said.
During the 2007-08 academic year, Gee’s first year of his current term, there were 2,073 members of Greek life as of Spring Quarter 2008, according to sorority and fraternity life data. As of Spring Quarter 2011, there were 3,584 members.
Costs to join a Greek organization can vary, depending on the amount of members, type of organization and type of events the chapter holds said Janelle Becker, a third-year in materials science and engineering and recruitment guide for Panhellenic Association (PHA) for Winter Quarter. She said costs for members of a PHA chapter average about $500 per quarter.
PHA is the governing council of the 16 national social sororities at OSU. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) is the governing body for OSU’s general or social fraternities.
Hassell-Goodman said 2012 numbers cannot be determined until council members ensure all members are meeting requirements.
“We want to make sure the (Greek) community is growing at an appropriate level,” she said.
During a Feb. 6 editorial board meeting with The Lantern, Gee said Greek life at OSU should be significantly higher.
“Our Greek system right now is about 8 percent, too small. It should be 15 percent,” Gee said.
Sororities and fraternities accounted for about 5 percent of undergraduate enrollment in 2008 and about 7 percent in 2010, according to data available from office of enrollment services and sorority and fraternity life.
Some students have said they do not think joining a Greek organization is a necessity for their college experience.
Shelby Griffith, a second-year in computer information science, said she never considered going Greek while attending OSU.
“I think it’s worth something because of the community project,” Griffith said. “I was just never interested in joining.”
OSU has 67 Greek chapters. Hassell-Goodman said there are five more chapters looking to come onto campus including the Phi Sigma Kappa, Delta Sigma Phi, Sigma Lambda Beta and Chi Phi fraternities, and the Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority. It is unknown when these chapters will be official on campus, Hassell-Goodman said. They must first fulfill requirements at their national office and with the university.
“(The chapters) want to come on campus at a time when they can be successful,” she said. “Some groups that expressed interest won’t necessarily go through.”
Justin Keats, a fourth-year in operations management and member of Sigma Alpha Mu, said he thinks Greek life at OSU is small compared to other schools and doesn’t feel numbers at OSU have changed much since joining during the 2008-09 academic year.
“People that want to (join) are going to do it,” Keats said. “I think it’s a great way for people to make good friends and meet great people that they wouldn’t otherwise.”
Hassell-Goodman said numbers have been steadily increasing, after seeing a drop in the early 2000s. By the end of Spring Quarter she said there’s hope that Greek life will account for 10 percent of OSU’s undergraduates.
An increase in numbers could be the result of multiple initiatives taken up by groups within Greek life, including IFC and PHA, Hassell-Goodman said. These initiatives include changes in the Lead, Learn, Serve website, a resource for OSU students interested in joining Greek life, to make recruitment sign-up easier and an increase in marketing campaigns.
Carey Santiana, a third-year in political science and English and member of Chi Omega, said she has seen a bigger increase in people going through recruitment since joining almost two years ago. Santiana is also director of risk management for PHA at OSU.
“I think Ohio State (Greek life) has always had a bad stigma from past stereotypes,” she said. “PHA and IFC are really trying to change the perception of Greek life at Ohio State … rather than it being a social club.”
Greek members have the option of living in their respective sorority or fraternity house. Santiana lived in her sorority house last year but opted to live elsewhere this year. She said issues of overcrowding have not been brought to her attention.
“There is always room for girls to live in if that’s what they want to do,” Santiana said. “It can be competitive depending on who wants to live in that year, but it varies.”
Although sororities and fraternities seem small compared to OSU’s large population, Santiana said compared to other colleges, OSU seems to be ahead in terms of the opportunities for members.
“There’s definitely the attitude that everyone really wants Greek life to grow. They just have to play into effect in the coming quarters and semesters,” Santiana said.