Fraternities and sororities on the rise

Seren Lass

Contributing Writer

When Dr. Carolyn E. Whittier arrived at VCU in the fall of 2006, VCU had 17 fraternities and sororities. Today there are 37.

Whittier, the university’s associate director of programs and educational services, says that growth has been “intentional and strategic.”

“This year is an exciting time for fraternities and sororities at VCU. We are celebrating 40 years of history in 2010 and unprecedented growth of membership and chapter success,” Whittier said.

This year’s College Panhellenic Sorority formal recruitment process welcomed dozens more women than in previous years. Two years ago, 157 women registered for CPC formal recruitment. This year, 233 women registered – the most in VCU history.

“This growth shows the commitment of the institution to hosting a healthy and vibrant fraternity and sorority experience for our students,” Whittier says.

Despite growing numbers of members and organizations, Greek life at VCU remains relatively small compared with other colleges and universities. Of the approximately 33,000 students at VCU, about 1,000 are in fraternities or sororities, according to Whittier’s office.

At other schools, “Greek life makes up about one-fourth or more of the student populations,” according to Penny Phounsavath, a VCU senior and member of Alpha Omicron Pi, a national women’s fraternity founded in 1897.

Though small, VCU’s Greek life has a significant impact on its members. Fraternities and sororities engage not only in social activities but also academics, sports and service projects ranging from cleaning up the James River to helping students move into the dorms.

Though pleased with the growth of sororities and fraternities at VCU, Shatera Hillyer said, “Greek life is not for everyone. Some people get into it because of what it appears to be on the outside and once they’re in, realize it can be overwhelming at times and become inactive.”

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