Aron Pfingsten, English sophomore, DJ Wilson, graduate studies and Jordy Train, business marketing senior, lift a couch up to RJ Schnack, education junior, and Hank Futhey, history sophomore, just outside the Library. The Phi Delta Theta fraternity helped clean out Deet's Library for a community service project. Phi Delta Theta is the only fraternity or sorority currently on campus at Southwestern. Clinton Dick/Collegian photographer.

By Paige Carswell
Staff reporter

Alpha Gamma Delta. Alpha Phi. Phi Sigma Pi. People may not know exactly what they stand for, but all of them are recognized as Greek.

Fraternities and sororities, derived from the Latin words for “brother” and “sister,” have historically been part of college campuses. To some, they are a group stained by the stereotypes they may or may not represent. To others, they are esteemed members of a college. And, to those who are in them, they represent the connections they wouldn’t have had the chance to make without being a part of it.

Chandler Kirkhart, business junior, rushed Phi Delta Theta, the only fraternity on campus, his freshman year after finding that making new friends was proving to be difficult.

“I had a hard time finding acceptance even though I am as extroverted as a person can get,” Kirkhart said. “When I joined Phi Delta Theta, I found myself within a group of very diverse individuals who shared a close friendship. I have learned patience amongst friends, how to run a business meeting—even with people whom I constantly clash with— but most importantly, I have gained more than 20 best friends that would be there for me in any situation, good or bad.”

While the college may only have one fraternity, that is one more than the number of sororities SC currently hosts.

Jordan Unruh, nursing senior, rushed Beta Sigma Phi and was a member until the beginning of her sophomore year.

“To be honest, it all just fell apart,” Unruh said. “After our freshman year, nobody wanted to take on the responsibility of leading the sorority, so Randi Dierksen and I tried, but we were left with little to work on. Dues hadn’t been paid and the whole system was a mess. So we made the executive decision to just call it quits.”

Sarah Hallinan, associate dean of students, said, “I think they were on campus from 2002-2008. There was also Phi Sheba Phi.  I think they were on campus for a year or two.”

Fraternities and sororities don’t have off-campus living connected with the school, unlike some at larger universities.

“I don’t believe any student organizations or service learning groups have a house off campus,” said Dan Falk, dean of students. “The school believes in students living on campus. Research shows that students graduate at higher levels when they live on campus.  I think there would be a great deal of cost involved in getting a house up and running. Also, the school would have to sort out the policies that would be involved in having school housing off campus.”

On campus or off, students in the lone fraternity have found ways to connect with the community, from doing service projects to fundraisers.

“We provide five families with complete Thanksgiving meals at about $50 per meal,” said Jacob Tafoya, computer information systems senior and Phi Delta Theta treasurer. “This year, through Big Brothers, Big Sisters, we will be providing around 20 children’s gifts. We call it ‘The 12 days of Christmas.’”

Unruh said that she was involved in fundraisers as part of Beta Sigma Phi, and wished there was a sorority on campus again.

“ I actually tried for a while to get Beta going again and I talked with the Phi Delts about a few other options that they suggested, but I needed to have someone to help me and I didn’t have that,” said Unruh, who was also taking on the challenges of cross country, track and getting into nursing school at that time. “I needed someone else to help get it going. Well, I obviously failed and I feel bad about that. I think it would be a good thing to have on campus for girls. The Phi Delts are like family and it would be nice to have a similar bond for girls who go to SC.”

 Tafoya said that he felt a sorority would be beneficial to women on campus for multiple reasons. “One, it’s a way for incoming freshmen women to become friends with one another, and two, traditionally, women who join sororities have higher grades than women who do not join sororities.”

 Hallinan said that while students have expressed interest, no one has put in the effort to start a sorority at this point. “This summer I had a few students ask me about starting up a sorority, so I gave them information from the national Panhellenic Conference.  I think they lost interest. Starting a local sorority would be fairly easy.”

Falk said, “Fraternities and sororities can start by speaking with the Campus Life office. They have to fill out the necessary paperwork to be recognized as an on campus student organization. I think the sororities of the past have just tired out and there hasn’t been interest or student leadership to develop a sorority.  It takes a great deal of work and time to get a sorority up and running effectively.”

Jennifer Hendrixson, business administration and marketing junior, said that she would be interested in joining a sorority if another one was started.

“I have always been a fan of sororities,” Hendrixson said. “I believe they are good for making new friends and spending time with all different sorts of girls that you would not normally spend time with. They help you grow as a person and get more involved.”

Paige Carswell is a senior majoring in journalism. You may e-mail her at paige.carswell@sckans.edu.