CSU’s sororities face decreasing retention rates, while fraternities retain, increase membership

Piper Davis

Colorado State University’s sororities are facing decreasing in retention rates over each academic year, while fraternities not only retain, but increase chapter size every semester, according to reports released by Fraternity and Sorority Life.

Sorority recruits wait in their recruitment groups for the bidding selection process to begin in fall 2016. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

Disparities in sorority chapter size exist between fall and spring semesters, according to reports.

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Looking at Chi Omega, the sorority with the largest chapter size at CSU, its spring enrollment varies greatly from its fall enrollment.

Sororities open bid in the spring and many of the members are lost right after bid day. But, for the 2016-2017 academic year, Chi Omega’s enrollment decreased from 210 in the fall to 179 in the spring, meaning a decrease of 31 members the first semester of the year—a loss of nearly 15 percent. 

In comparison to the previous academic year, Chi Omega faced a loss of around 5 percent of its members, with a chapter size of 190 in the fall of 2015 and 179 in the spring of 2016. And, three years ago, the chapter only lost 2.5 percent of members with a chapter size of 159 in the fall of 2014 and 155 in the spring of 155. 

Conversely, most fraternities at CSU have experienced an increase in members each semester.

According to the same reports released by FSL, Kappa Sigma, the fraternity with the largest chapter size at CSU, has seen a continual increase in enrollment since 2015.

In spring 2015, Kappa Sigma had a chapter size of 101. Fall of 2015 retained the same chapter size and grew to 107 in the spring of 2016. Kappa Sigma’s chapter size experienced its greatest percent gain of enrollment for the academic year of 2016/2017. In fall of 2016, the chapter size was 110, and as of spring 2017, their chapter size grew to 126, an increase of nearly 13 percent. 

From fall of 2015 and spring of 2017, Kappa Sigma gained 25 members, an increase of nearly 20 percent. 

According to former sorority members, the decreasing retention rate can be attributed to several factors. 

Caroline Packard, a sophomore studying physics, went through rush her sophomore year, but only lasted until the first bill for her sorority came within weeks after rushing.

“I was in Tri-Delta, but I chose to leave largely because of the cost,” Packard said. “I can’t remember exactly how much it cost, but it was somewhere around $1,500 a semester living outside of the house. It was definitely not worth it to pay for friends.”

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It was definitely not worth it to pay for friends. -Caroline Packard

A former member of Gamma Phi Beta, who asked to remain anonymous, decided to leave for numerous reasons, but predominantly for the major changes in her experience.

“I had got what I came for, which was friends, support and community,” she said. “I learned a lot but I don’t feel that I would have benefited anymore than I already had if I were to continue my time in my chapter.”

Despite admiring the high standards sorority life is held to, the student said she disliked how restrictive the rules and standards felt in her every day life.

“I really respect that FSL has rules and standards set in place for Greek organizations,” she said. “It holds us to a high standard and encourages (us) to be the best people we can be, but I also felt very held down by these rules. I felt like they were so caught up in the image that it restrained me from being myself or posting things that I want to post on social media.”

Taylor James, a sophomore studying journalism and media communications, decided to leave Pi Beta Phi because she said it felt like the wrong fit for her.

“It really had nothing to do with the women or the organization itself,” James said. “I really felt like I wasn’t meeting anybody or making deep connections. I didn’t feel comfortable, I didn’t feel involved, and by the end I just couldn’t see myself staying. I was very unhappy, so ultimately I decided to drop in order to take a step back from everything and work on myself first.”

Despite James’s experience in her previous sorority, she eventually rushed again to join Alpha Delta Chi.

“This is why I do love Greek life so much,” James said. “There are so many options and so many unique and beautiful chapters that can identify with individuals personally. I am able to pursue specific interests and have gained leadership opportunities in my first active semester.”

Despite disparities in chapter sizes between the fall and spring semesters, there is a steady increase in participation in the FSL community.

In the Fall 2014, 9.5 percent of CSU undergraduates were involved in the FSL community. In the Spring 2017, 12.1 percent of CSU undergraduates participated in Greek life, a 2.6 percent increase.

Brooke Ortmayer, a sophomore studying journalism and media communications and a current member of Chi Omega, not only found value in being in Greek life, but prioritizes it because she has made close friendships.

“The girls I met in Chi O are the best friends I always wanted,” Ortmayer said. “And, it occupies my time because I like to be busy. I think the cost is worth it. I pay for it myself, and it’s something I don’t even think about anymore because I budget it in.”

Fraternity enrollment has also experienced an increase overall over each academic year. In 2015 spring semester, only 9 percent of undergraduate men at CSU participated in FSL. As of the spring of 2017, the amount of undergraduate men in Greek life increased to 10.1 percent. 

Ryan Duke, a senior studying finance and economics, has been a member of Pi Kappa Phi since rushing the first semester of his freshman year. 

“Personally I was looking for just kind of something to do when I came to college,” Duke said. “I didn’t want to be bored in my dorm room only hanging out from my old high school friends, so I rushed and found a home at Pi Kappa Phi and all of the people there. It truly changed me as a person. I would suggest rushing and staying in Greek life to anyone.”

According to Elijah Serena, the advisor for the Multicultural Greek Council, staff members of the Fraternity and Sorority Life Office are unable to comment on Greek life retention rates.

“I think it’s an awesome way to find community, a support system, and a way to get involved at CSU,” James said. “A journey through Greek life is so so personal and people realize that once they go through it. So if anyone is even thinking about it, it’s always worth a shot. You could find a home or just learn something about yourself and others.”

Collegian assistant news editor Piper Davis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @PiperLDavis