In keeping with the University’s large-scale growth over the last several years, many greek organizations have been experiencing unprecedented size increases.
Gentry McCreary, the University’s director of greek affairs, said the greek community has doubled in size since 2003. While fraternity and sorority populations are growing, McCreary said, only one new sorority has been added since 2003.
“Our sororities are getting too big,” McCreary said. “We have sororities that have doubled in size [over the last 7 years]. Some sororities [will] have over 300 members this fall.”
Sarah Suggs, president of the Panhellenic Association and a senior majoring in accounting, also said sororities have been growing.
“1600 to 1700 girls are in rush this year,” Suggs said. “It’s one of the largest [rushes] in the nation.”
Suggs said she thinks the growth in the UA greek system, especially during current economic conditions, is reflective of the quality of greek life at the University.
“I think that girls are willing to put aside many other wants and needs in order to accommodate the funds to be in a sorority,” Suggs said. “The bonds that you make with girls and the relationships will last you a lifetime. They see the sorority and the sisterhood as an investment. It’s a strategic move.”
“I think it’s a testament to the strength of the system that they’ve [fraternities and sororities] been able to grow throughout the recession,” McCreary said.
McCreary also said the growth caused a need for more houses to decrease the sizes of the individual sororities.
Four new sorority houses are planned for construction beginning Fall 2011, according to McCreary. Sororities already on campus will have the first bids for the new houses, and new sororities wanting to be established on campus would then bid for the vacated houses.
The new houses will be built behind the President’s Mansion where Wilson, Byrd, Parker-Adams and New Hall are currently located. The demolition of those buildings was approved by the board of trustees in June.
“There are criteria for the new houses,” McCreary said. “Academic performance, demonstrated need and financial ability.”
Interested sororities will have the opportunity to apply for the new housing lots in October.
Fraternities, like sororities, have expanded in recent years. Pi Kappa Alpha voted to build a new house in November 2007, according to John Murdock, president of the house corporation for Pi Kappa Alpha.
“We were going to do a big renovation project and just ended up deciding to build a new one,” said Murdock.
“We broke ground in April, 2008,” Murdock said. “There was a pretty big drainage project that had to be taken care of before we started construction.”
Pi Kappa Alpha chose to build a new house partly to match the University’s increasing quality standards for campus housing, according to Murdock.
For McCreary, the new fraternity house is a mark of pride for the University.
“It’s one of the nicest fraternity houses you’ll find anywhere,” McCreary said.