Fraternities and sororities pride themselves on being strong national organizations with traditions shared among every chapter on every campus. But Greek life at other colleges and universities can differ drastically from the atmosphere at Penn.
Some Ivy League schools defer recruitment until sophomore year, some have a greater percentage of students involved in Greek life - and some don't recognize it at all.
According to Scott Reikofski, the director of Penn's Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, all eight Ivy League schools have Greek organizations. However, some of the chapters are not recognized by their universities.
The reasons for the lack of official recognition vary among the schools.
Harvard University's administration does not recognize fraternities and sororities because the school has a policy of not recognizing any organization whose membership discriminates by gender.
Being unrecognized prevents Greek chapters from using any campus space to host or promote events, according to The Crimson, Harvard's student newspaper.
Princeton University does not officially recognize fraternities and sororities because the school does not "believe that, in general, they contribute in positive ways to the overall residential experience on campus," according to a letter the administration sent to parents of freshmen in July 2008.
The letter also said the school feels Greek organizations put too much emphasis on exclusivity and alcohol consumption.
Of the ancient eight, Cornell University's Greek life is the most similar to Penn's, Reikofski said.
Like that at Penn, Cornell defers fraternity and sorority recruitment until second semester of freshman year. About one third of Cornell undergraduates are members of Greek organizations - comparable to the about 30 percent of Greek students at Penn.
Cornell, which has a larger undergraduate population than Penn, has 42 fraternities in its Interfraternity Council, 11 sororities in its Panhellenic Association and 17 Multicultural Greek Letter Organizations.
By comparison, Penn has 30 fraternities in its Interfraternity Council, eight sororities under the Panhellenic Council and 13 chapters in its Multicultural Greek Council.
According to William Tananbaum, a sophomore and member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at Cornell, Greek life can play a large or small role in campus life, depending on students' involvement in the organizations.
"If you join a Greek organization, you can get super involved if you want, or you can kind of hang back if it's not as much your thing," Tananbaum wrote in an e-mail. "If you're not in one, it doesn't really affect you too much depending on who you know."
Dartmouth University's Greek life has many features that differentiate it from Penn's. Recruitment for fraternities and sororities is deferred until fall of sophomore year, some fraternities and sororities on campus are unaffiliated with national organizations and not all sororities have chapter houses.
Greek life is also more prevalent on Dartmouth's campus than it is at Penn. About 60 percent of sophomores, juniors and seniors are members of fraternities and sororities. There are 17 fraternities, 10 sororities and three co-ed Greek organizations at Dartmouth, whose undergraduate population is the smallest of the Ivies.
Dartmouth sophomore and Alpha Xi Delta member Sydney Ribot said that while individuals' lives do not revolve around Greek life, campus life does.
For example, Ribot said, a recent Hillel-sponsored performance by Jewish comedians was held at a Greek house.
Like Dartmouth, Columbia University has fewer Greek organizations than Penn does, with 14 IFC fraternities, four Panhellenic sororities and 14 MGC groups. Unlike Dartmouth, however, only a small percentage of students are Greek, with about 10 to 15 percent of students in fraternities and sororities.
Aaron Liskov, a Columbia sophomore and member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, said the role of Greek life on campus depends on the student.
"It's not something that people have to do - it's something they do because they want to," Liskov said. He added that some people attend Greek events while others never do.
The percentage of students involved in Brown University's Greek community is similar to that at Columbia. According to its Greek Council's Web site, Brown is about 10-percent Greek and has six fraternities, two sororities and two co-ed organizations.
Penn's OFSA talks to the Greek life offices at Columbia, Cornell and Dartmouth - as well as those at Duke University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of Southern California and Northwestern University - when it seeks advice about problems or is conducting research, according to Reikofski.
He added that he thinks Penn's Greek life compares favorably to the Greek communities at peer institutions.
Reikofski said he believes Penn's fraternities and sororities have fewer disciplinary problems, higher grades for their members and higher levels of community service participation than do the chapters at other Ivies and highly-accredited universities.
"We have very solid, positive Greek institutions," he said.Comments powered by Disqus
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