With about 10 percent of Ohio State’s undergraduate population involved in Greek Life, OSU Interim President Joseph Alutto said he’s less concerned about growth than about ensuring students always have a choice about the matter.
“This is a matter of choice and as long as we make sure it is always a matter of choice, I think (sororities and fraternities) add a great deal to the experience of individual students as long as students have the ability to choose that that’s what they want and that is the experience that they think is valuable for their time at a university,” Alutto said in an interview with The Lantern Sept. 23.
Undergraduate Student Government President Taylor Stepp, a member of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, said students need to have the opportunity to shape their own college experiences.
“Providing a plethora of options for students is key in providing students the individualized experiences that Ohio State offers,” Stepp said in an email.
Other students who are part of the Greek community said having that choice is important because it’s key students who join sororities and fraternities value the commitment.
“If a student decides on his or her own that Greek Life is what they want, then they will work harder to become a better brother (or) sister in the fraternity or sorority,” said Alec Singerman, a third-year in agribusiness and a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, 10 percent of undergraduate students at OSU are members of sororities and fraternities.
Some of that remaining portion of OSU students said they don’t see a particular value in joining Greek Life.
“It’s good for finding connections for later in life for work opportunities, but that’s it,” said Henrieta White, a third-year in health sciences. “I don’t want my peers to set rules or standards for me.”
Others said they’re too busy to add an additional commitment.
“I don’t have enough time to be in a sorority,” said Cassie Kahr, a second-year in music education and voice performance. “I wouldn’t have time for the social events that the girls have to go to, and I would feel out of place because I wouldn’t be able to be as dedicated as someone with less classes than me.”
Kahr said she’s part of organizations more specifically related to her interests.
“In the music school, we all hang out and we all learn so much from each other about our futures,” Kahr said. “I think that connection within someone’s studies (is) a better idea.”
Alutto said expanding the Greek community as OSU’s second-year on-campus living requirement goes into place in 2016 could provide more opportunities for students to connect with their peers.
“Their (fraternities and sororities’) ability to work with us on the first two years I think is going to be very important to us and to them as time goes on because the members of those Greek societies are going to have to meet the same requirements as any other freshmen or sophomores,” Alutto said. “That will do a number of things in terms of making sure that they stay integrated with the university even while they pursue their own interests later on.”
At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, a requirement for OSU students to live on campus for two years is set to go into effect. For those second-years who want to move off-campus after the requirement goes into effect, Greek housing will be one of the few approved options available.
Matt Deptola, a fourth-year in public affairs and two-year Delta Sigma Phi fraternity Alpha Iota chapter president, said there’s a lot that needs to be done before Greek Life can be expanded though.
“The expansion of Greek Life can be positive, but placing a larger focus on Greek Life is … more strategic for the overall success of our community. Having (more than 60 sorority and fraternity chapters at OSU) means that our Greek Life staff is spread thin at times,” Deptola said in an email. “The staff we do have does a fantastic job, but in order to grow the community, we need to make sure that our chapters and colonies are receiving the help they need to succeed. Adding resources to handle potential expansion is a key consideration that needs to be made.”
Stepp said making the Greek community larger is in the best interest of OSU, adding this is something USG is working on accomplishing by providing more funding.
“Since I have been in office, USG has distributed the highest amount of partnership funding towards Greek Life ever,” he said. “These funds have (gone) to philanthropies such as the Delt Deep Fry, AEPi’s World’s Longest BBQ and many more.”
Delta Tau Delta fraternity’s “Delt Deep Fry” and Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity’s “AEPi’s World’s Longest BBQ” event are both held to raise money for cancer research.
Abby Ryan, a fourth-year in hospitality management and a member of Pi Beta Phi fraternity for women, said her years in the Greek community have been a much-needed experience.
“Greek Life is a huge part of our campus, even if it only is a little over 10 percent, and they reach out to every part of the student experience at Ohio State from the classroom to student employees and student orgs. To have an opportunity to join an organization that can show you so many opportunities to get involved on campus is a great thing, especially for newer students in their first two years,” Ryan said.
When it comes to personal connections, Ryan said joining a sorority was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
“Since being in Greek Life I’ve gained a lot. I’ve made friends with people who I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise, I joined new groups that I love but wouldn’t have had the courage to join on my own … and it’s definitely given me way more confidence,” she said. “No matter how involved you choose to be, you have a connection with those people in your chapter that you all don’t share with anyone else, so you know you’ll support each other through anything.”
Alutto said along with gaining personal connections, Greek Life can help “ensure the quality of the educational experience that … students receive.”
Ryan said she feels her education has been enhanced by participation in a sorority.
“I’ve learned so much about literacy, which is Pi Phi’s philanthropy, which has a huge correlation with education not only in our own lives, but with education across the country,” Ryan said. “I’ve definitely learned way more about so many different things than I would’ve in just the classroom.”