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Greek life makes comeback on College Hill

Members discuss growth of community in years following COVID-19 pandemic

Katherine Kim 鈥24, the former president of Brown鈥檚 Kappa Delta chapter, often receives texts from girls interested in rushing a sorority asking for advice on what to wear during recruitment. But Kim, who rushed KD entirely on Zoom in 2021, frequently finds that she doesn鈥檛 have much fashion advice to give.

鈥淟ooking back, I'm sure (virtual recruitment) was more awkward than I remember,鈥 Kim said. 鈥淏ut at that point, Zoom was so normalized.鈥

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of students attending the first round of sorority recruitment dropped drastically, The Herald previously reported. In 2019, 290 students attended the first round of recruitment. Those numbers declined to 92 students in 2021, the year Kim rushed, and to 82 students in 2022.

But in the past two years, a growing number of students have joined Panhellenic sororities and independent fraternities, marking a steady resurgence of Greek life on College Hill.

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According to the website, there are currently 16 Greek Life organizations at Brown: four National Panhellenic sororities, six National Panhellenic Council sororities and fraternities, two co-ed residential organizations and four independent residential fraternities locally based at Brown. 

Greek life has been 鈥渁 presence on the Brown University campus for over 175 years鈥 and seeks to establish a 鈥渨ell-rounded college experience鈥 for its participants with 鈥渁 foundation in scholarship, service leadership and personal development.鈥

In February, 鈥渞ush鈥 officially began for the four Panhellenic Council sororities on campus, an opportunity for women interested in joining a Greek life organization to get to know the different sororities at Brown. This year, recruitment was held over five days and included open houses, sisterhood, philanthropy, preference rounds and a final bid day in which prospective new members learned what sorority they had been accepted into. 

Addie Poulson 鈥26, the current President of Delta Gamma, noted that this year鈥檚 recruitment looked significantly different from her own and that of DG seniors who went through the process during the pandemic.

In 2023, the year Poulson rushed, the first day of recruitment was held over Zoom due to a sub-zero wind chill felt across the Northeast. 鈥淚t can be harder to connect with people and get a good sense of what they're all about over a screen,鈥 Poulson said. 

Kim said she witnessed a growing number of girls joining recruitment and staying through the whole process this year.

鈥淟ast year, I ran recruitment and (KD) almost tripled, quadrupled our numbers,鈥 she said. When Kim initially joined KD, 鈥渢here were maybe five to 10 active members in the organization.鈥 

Greek life on campus also saw a reckoning in September 2020, when Brown鈥檚 KD and Kappa Alpha Theta chapters held votes to disaffiliate from their national chapters in the wake of the Abolish Greek Life movement, which criticized Greek life for its 鈥渉istorical, systematic exclusion of people of color,鈥 The Herald previously reported. Unlike local fraternities on campus, panhellenic sororities hold charters from national organizations to operate on campuses. While the chapters chose to remain affiliated with their national organizations, both organizations took hits to their membership, with Theta losing 70 members.

鈥淣ow, having more people in an organization who care about the organization has completely changed what Greek life looks like,鈥 Kim added. 

This year, 12 new members joined Theta and Alpha Chi Omega, 14 joined DG and 22 joined KD.

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For Lucia Dahn 鈥27, who joined DG this spring, recruitment 鈥渨as a super organized and easy process.鈥 

鈥淓veryone was super kind, welcoming, informative and understanding, and I appreciated having the opportunity to talk to so many different girls in each house and really get a sense of each sorority鈥檚 values and mission,鈥 Dahn said. 鈥淚鈥檝e been able to connect with people of different grades and academic interests who I otherwise wouldn鈥檛 have crossed paths with.鈥

Madi Dodd 鈥25, the current president of KD, echoed a similar sentiment about how Greek Life has allowed her to meet people from different spaces within Brown.

鈥淥ne of the best things about being in a sorority is getting to meet people that are not your year,鈥 she said. 鈥淕etting to hear about their experiences at Brown and having them be kind of a mentor for you and give you guidance on things like different classes or organizations is beneficial.鈥 

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John Purdue 鈥26,  president of Theta Alpha, said he wishes Greek life was more prominent at Brown.

鈥淥bviously at some schools (Greek Life) can have a bad reputation, but I think any student group that's doing good things is positive,鈥 he said. 鈥淚f we had the ability to be a little more loud about recruitment 鈥 I think that could be helpful, both on the fraternity and sorority side.鈥

Greek Life 鈥渃an be a pretty positive force,鈥 Purdue said, 鈥渓ike any student group.鈥

For fraternities at Brown, the recruitment process is more informal than for sororities. For Thete, one of their first recruitment events this semester was watching the Super Bowl as a group. According to Purdue, certain fraternities like Thete are also simply an extension of the University鈥檚 sports teams. Out of the 28 football recruits in Purdue鈥檚 cohort, 25 rushed Thete.

鈥淓veryone's parents tell them that they鈥檙e going to meet their lifelong best friends in college,鈥 Purdue said. Greek Life 鈥渋s a medium where (it) will be extremely apparent to you that that's happening. It's so easy to get so close with people through this system.鈥 

鈥淚've never been in a group (with girls) of such diverse interests who genuinely care about what I'm doing,鈥 Kim said. 鈥淚 feel so invested in Brown, largely because I have all these friends who themselves have unique interests and passions, and I'm invited into their life as well.鈥 


Sanai Rashid

Sanai Rashid was raised in Brooklyn and now lives in Long Island, New York. As an English and History concentrator, she is always looking for a way to amplify stories and histories previously unheard. When she is not writing, you can find her trying new pizza places in Providence or buying another whale stuffed animal.



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