Pacific University has a rich history with Greek Life and is home to Gamma Sigma, one of the oldest sororities on this side of the Mississippi River. Although Pacific’s Greek Life experienced major changes this past year, they are now ready and poised to reclaim their status and be a large presence on campus once again.
Last year, Greeks were shocked and frustrated after Pacific, in an attempt to cut down on hazing and practices that did not fit within Greek-system ideals, placed a ban on fall pledging.
Although the ruling received less than popular reviews, fraternities and sororities on campus made an honest effort of restructuring themselves for the better and in the end, it seems the ruling did do more good than bad.
“It was hard for people to adjust to the new parameters last year, it was a tough and stressful time for everyone,” Greek Senate President and senior Ashley McKenzie said, who has now held the position for two years. “But Greeks rebounded really well, we all did good in recruitment and we eliminated the rush out of Rush Week. We were also able to build a more sturdy and strong structure for Greek Life.”
According to McKenzie, this newly reinforced structure for Greek Life resulted in a record number of community service hours being completed by Greek Life members and a higher overall grade point average among the different chapters on campus.
According to the Greek Senate Adviser Pete Erschen, the new set of policies and parameters for Greek Life, which are now currently in effect, were talked about and developed last year during the fall by a committee composed of members from the Greek Senate, Student Life, Student Conduct Board and the Dean of Students.
“We looked at the policies and practices of other institutions and basically adapted those to our own institution in a way that we thought would best support students,” Erschen said. “The new policies will ensure people have good new member programs and support for new member programs in such a way that will help chapters to avoid mistakes that have been made in the past.”
The biggest change to Greek Life this year is the new rule that states first year students cannot pledge to a fraternity or a sorority until the spring.
According to Erschen, this is a policy that universities around the country are adopting more and more, to ensure first year students adapt to college life and get to know themselves before fully pledging to either a fraternity or sorority.
“You can change your major a lot in college,” Erschen said. “But the way fraternities and sororities work, is that hopefully you choose the right one for you the first time and that is it.” Pacific currently has six active Greek Life chapters on campus, two less than last year after Kappa Sigma was disbanded and more recently when Gamma Sigma was marked as temporarily inactive.
Although there are less options for students to choose from when considering rushing a fraternity or sorority this year, McKenzie is confident rush numbers will stay high. Fall rush will be kicking off toward the end of September with an all Greek bench painting outside of Marsh Hall and all are welcome to attend.
McKenzie also hopes first year students will attend rush events, even though they cannot pledge until the spring, because it will give younger students a chance to get their feet in the door of Greek Life and start thinking about what fraternity or sorority most interests them.
Both Erschen and McKenzie are confident the newly made changes to Greek Life will work out for the better and result in a year free from hazing and other conflicts.