The draw of Greek life on the Hill is increasing, as 30 more students submitted bids this year compared to last year.
“It seemed like we had a lot more interest,” Mark Morford, president of Delta Tau Delta (Delts), said. “We had big showings at all our rush events. A bit bigger number of interest forms than we’ve had in recent years.” He believes the presence of Greek organizations on campus provides many social opportunities that aren’t readily available in Gambier and gives rushees a sense of community.
The rise in Greek interest at Kenyon comes at a time when more of its peer institutions are banning fraternities and sororities from their campuses for good. In 2014, Amherst College joined Williams, Middlebury, Bowdoin, Colby and Alfred University in banning Greek life.
Greek life at Ohio colleges seems to be holding strong, however.
This year, at Denison College, around 200 women accepted bids from the five national sororities on campus, according to The Denisonian, Denison’s weekly newspaper. Like Kenyon, Denison holds its rush week during the spring. Other Ohio schools, such as Ohio Wesleyan University, Oberlin College and The College of Wooster also have Greek life on campus, despite the trend of small, liberal arts schools banning the institution.
Anthony Wilson, a first year who said he originally had no intention of joining a Greek organization, attended the last open rush week event for Phi Kappa Tau (Phi Tau) “on a whim,” and ultimately chose to pursue membership within the group. “The way frat life was presented to me before college was scary to me,” Wilsonsaid. “Super ‘bro-focused.’”
When Wilson accepted a bid from Phi Kappa Tau on Feb. 5, he was not alone; 176 students accepted bids from Greek organizations this year, compared to 146 last year. The number of students who registered for rush also increased greatly this year to 254, up from 214 and 226 in 2015 and 2014, respectively, though rushees for Peeps O’Kenyon counted toward the 2014 number before PEEPS left Greek Council in 2014. About a quarter of all Kenyon students are involved in Greek life.
Kenny Viel ’17, president of Alpha Sigma Tau, believes part of the recruitment draw is the diversity of Greek life on campus, which connects Greeks to other student groups.
“It’s not just our only entity,” Viel said. “We’re part of different clubs, and we meet so many people through these clubs, and so they’ve become interested in Greek life through the people that they meet in different clubs.”
Greek life at Kenyon is also increasingly national: within the past two years, Phi Kappa Tau became the last of Kenyon’s six fraternities to affiliate with a national organization and Alpha Sigma Tau became the school’s first national sorority.
Phi Tau president Matthew Christopher ’17 also believes this year’s rush was better planned and advertised than prior years’.
“This year’s Greek Council did a much better job with marketing and promotion and pushing folks to register or gather more information,” said Laura Kane, director of student activities and Greek life. Kane said this may have caused part of the uptick in Greek enrollment.
Kane suggested beginning the period for registration sooner than in past years, and events like the open house held by sororities on campus, may have also contributed to greater outreach from the Greeks to the wider Kenyon community.