Kenyon is not known for having an overbearing Greek culture. According to Kenyon’s website, approximately 25 percent of the student body are members of a Greek organization. In comparison to other schools, your social life won’t end if you aren’t part of a sorority or fraternity and it is possible to have friends both inside and outside of your Greek organization. That said, the current system at Kenyon fosters competitiveness between femme-identifying students who rush, due to the fact that there are simply not enough sororities on campus to accommodate the number of female students interested.
Some would argue that a solution to this would be to just get rid of Greek life altogether, but I think the numbers show that there are enough students at Kenyon who want to pursue the option of Greek life. This year, 235 students registered for recruitment. Of those students, 86 were not matched. The numbers were roughly the same last year when I rushed: 200-plus people hoping to join an organization, with only 40 to 50 spots across four sororities for the femme-identifying people who registered. Since there are more fraternities on campus and they are less exclusive than sororities, it is safe to assume that the majority of those 86 students were femme-identifying.
I was one of those girls last year who did not get their bid returned and even though I was initially disappointed, I am not bitter about it nor has it made me anti-Greek. I think sororities and fraternities add an important social outlet for people and the way that the system is set up at Kenyon—with divisions being inside dorms and not in separate buildings, and Greek organizations holding all-campus social events—helps to combat the traditional toxic exclusivity associated with Greek life at other schools.
However, one of the implications of the rushing process is that it is portrayed as less competitive than it actually is. One of the things I remember all the potential new members being told at the start of the rush week was that we were the ones in the driver’s seat; in other words, the Greek organizations were trying to impress us and we shouldn’t feel like we had to impress them. However, the further I got into the rush process, the more I began to feel like that wasn’t exactly true. A limited number of spots mean that some people are going to get chosen over others and by default, that promotes exclusivity and competition.
In addition, there are six fraternities at Kenyon and four sororities, meaning that male students have more options when it comes to Greek life and the process is not nearly as competitive. This past rush season, 149 bids were signed but only 46 of those were for sororities. Having more sorority options at Kenyon would not only balance out the fraternity-sorority ratio but also give students the ability to choose an organization that more fully fits their interests and beliefs.
Each Greek organization at Kenyon is unique in its own way and offers something to the overall campus. Many people and I would argue especially women, feel empowered by being part of an organization that supports them. Giving people more options to find a community that fits them is always something that should be supported. Kenyon already has a Greek system that is more welcoming than other schools and adding more sororities to campus life will only improve the system for everyone who chooses to be involved.