By Vaman Muppala>Sophomore>English and Philosophy>University of Maryland
With steep beer fees and Animal House-like attitudes plaguing some fraternity and sorority houses, it may seem easier just to start your own. You know, make your own rules rather than conform to the existing Greek life.
Committed and frustrated students go a step beyond and begin the process of opening a new chapter of a national Greek organization at their university. Disgruntled fall rushers are already looking ahead to spring and new opportunities. Welcome to colonization.
“Interest in fraternities and sororities has gone up more the several past years. Personally, for Delta Kappa Epsilon, we’ve definitely seen an uptick in our expansions,” said Dennis Gerber, Director of Operations at DKE. “We’ve been getting chapters from coast to coast.”
Of course, this growth in colonization is not fueled only by bros looking to party harder but also students aiming for a taste of those glowing words from Greek life brochures: community, service and academics.
“I tried to find something that stood out to me, something that I felt was missing on campus,” explained Bill Vanemburgh, President of the DKE colony at Rutgers University. “They have a little saying that says, ‘A Delta Kappa Epsilon is a scholar, a gentlemen and a jolly good fellow’ and I really felt like that was something that was missing at Rutgers.”
Others feel a need to start something of their own, an organization and community that will outlast their tenure at the university.
“You will have the power to make it anyway you want,” said Rickie Furline, the President of Pi Kappa Alpha Colony at Towson University. “There was a quote that somebody gave me once that said ‘History will be kind to us because we are the ones who are going to write it’…You get to write the history of that fraternity on the campus from the get go.”
Young women looking to start their own sororities are driven by similar goals, according to Karina Shaver, a representative of Delta Delta Delta’s executive office.
“Typically women that are attracted to being a colonizing or founding member of a chapter are strong leaders who are interested in creating a positive, meaningful sorority experience for themselves and leaving that legacy for others who follow,” she said.
No matter what organization, starting a new chapter always requires hard work to navigate a complex, formalized application process as Towson University’s Coordinator for Fraternity & Sorority Life Christina Miele explained.
“We have a comprehensive expansion policy for Greek letter organizations so there are a number of parties involved,” Said Miele. “ If that interest group of students is looking to start a specific national organization…then obviously we’re working with the interest group.”
Ultimately though, some students may opt to just stick with what they know best even if the possibility of something better exists.
“I have a lot of fun at all of the frats that exist right now,” said Rutgers sophomore Adam Mazin. “That’s why I’m not going to start my own house. I’m just looking to party and have as much fun as possible.”
photo from http://www.olemiss.edu/cmap/images/barnard8.jpg