CSU’s shrinking Greek life

Since Greek life began at CSU in 1915, 23 sororities and 42 fraternities have been active at the university. But currently within the four Greek Life councils at the university, there are 14 sororities and 27 fraternities.

“Since 2005, we’ve lost 11 (chapters), with some re-colonizing,” said Sonja Jensen, director of Greek Life at CSU. “Of that, there’ve only been three that left because of risk-management violations.”

A sorority or fraternity chapter can be deactivated on campus for a number of different reasons, according to Jensen.

Jensen said these reasons include risk-management violations such as partying or hazing, a chapter getting too small to provide a positive experience for members, suffering grades, or deteriorating relationships with the chapter’s national organization.

“We want all of our chapters to be healthy, and healthy can look like a number of things,” Jensen said.

Fraternities Delta Chi and Beta Theta Pi were the most recent chapters to leave CSU, both in 2012. Neither group left because of risk-management violations, according to Jensen.

“I think CSU is increasing its standard of fraternity men it wants on campus,” said Kyle LeBrasse, senior civil engineering major and Interfraternity Council president. “Those two chapters were just not holding up to those standards and were actually struggling.”

“Yes, we lose groups who are unhealthy,” Jensen said. “It’s sad but necessary. We’re able to revitalize the community and raise the standard of membership experience by bringing in groups that have a renewed sense of energy (after leaving for some years).”

Jensen said that Greek Life now appeals to a different type of student than in the “heyday” of the 50s to 70s.

“When people think of Greek Life in the 1970s, they’re thinking of a very specific experience,” Jensen said.  “Are our numbers as big as they were in the 70s? Maybe not. And I’m okay with that because that’s not the experience we are providing.”

“Greek Life continues to be a vital option (for millennial students) by offering significant leadership development opportunities, networking and friendships for a lifetime,” wrote Jim Russell, executive vice president for the Delta Tau Delta national organization, in an email to the Collegian.

LeBrasse, a member of Phi Delta Theta, said Greek Life has faced a great decline in numbers as the decades have gone on and chapters have faced incidences such as a sorority female passing away at CSU.

“But I don’t believe it was the party aspect (that decreased numbers),” LeBrasse said. “It was more of the national organization starting to hold their men to a higher caliber.”

LeBrasse also said he thought social media and stigmas contributed to decreasing numbers and that a lot of kids miss out on a great opportunity as a result.

Senior equine sciences major Lindsey Galliher is in her fourth year as a member of Pi Beta Phi and is currently the Panhellenic Council President at CSU.

“I think our organizations are doing a lot better job attracting people for the right reasons and not for the stereotypical ‘we’re all here to party’ reasons,” Galliher said. “We’re attracting people that want to be a part of something that stays true to the values we uphold.”

According to Galliher, the process of introducing a new Panhellenic sorority on campus is “extremely intense” and takes one to two years. The community has to decide to invite another group on campus and won’t do so until current chapters are doing well enough to retain members.

Alpha Delta Chi, introduced to CSU in 2010, is the most recent addition to the Panhellenic Council at CSU.

Galliher said the first sorority that will eventually get the opportunity to return to campus will be Kappa Alpha Theta, dismissed in 2005 after 88 years at CSU.

LeBrasse said the Interfraternity Council has no set quota on membership numbers and want to continuously be accepting new members.

“Our biggest goal would be to break down stereotypes and stigmas,” LeBrasse said. “And from there, progress numbers-wise.”

Collegian Writer Emily Smith can be reached at news@collegian.com.