DePaul students talk pros and cons of DePaul Greek life amidst recruitment

Hannah Mitchell / The DePaulia

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     As the new school year unfolds, many students look forward to making new friends, participating in service events and joining new organizations–while fraternities and sororities are looking forward to recruiting new brothers and sisters for the same reasons.

     DePaul’s first week back to school welcomed a new class of students rushing for sororities and fraternities. Pre-recruitment events allowed students interested in joining one of the campus’ Greek organizations to find the best fit through getting to know potential sisters and brothers.

     As of graduation last year, DePaul has eight Panhellenic sororities with about 700 women involved, while having eight Interfraternity chapters with around 300 men.

     Eryk Soltys, president of the Interfraternity Council (IFC) at DePaul, said DePaul welcomed Pi Kappa Alpha into its IFC this year.

      Prospective members gathered for pre-recruitment information sessions in the Student Center conference room during the first week of classes. Compared to other universities, the location proved unconventional, but Katelyn Schreck, vice president of membership recruitment [whose sorority name could not be given during dissociation period] said it doesn’t stop them from throwing numerous events year-round.

     These gatherings range from formals to “pie-ing people in the face” and are primarily held in the Student Center or in the Quad, since DePaul lacks typical “Greek Row” houses found at other universities.

     DePaul’s Division of Student Affairs reports  that nearly 90 percent of the student body either commute or live off campus.

     Annamarie Pas, president of Alpha Xi Delta, believes that the commuting aspect of DePaul brings diversity to its Greek Life.

     ​“In general, my chapter specifically is a very diverse pool of women,” Pas said. “We have women who live all the way out in the suburbs and they are true commuter students, and then we have women who live in the far North Side or the far South Side. We range everywhere.”

     For students looking to rush, not having a sorority or fraternity home does not seem to matter.

     For freshmen Millie Adams and Olivia Crowley, making friends is at the top of the list of reasons to rush. Adams said she hopes  this experience will introduce her to “lifelong friends and make a difference in [her] community.”

     Crowley said she hopes for something similar.

     “What I’m looking forward to most in a sorority is the sisterhood,” Crowley said.

      Schreck said she believes she got just that.

     “It changed my life,” Schreck said. “I made a lot of great friends and I have had a lot of great advantages from it.”

     DePaul’s large student body of commuters is not the only unique aspect of its Greek life.

     Evan Sellas, president of Pi Kappa Phi, highlighted some of DePaul’s Greek characteristics, while also explaining common stereotypes students often make on campus.

     “Here at DePaul we don’t have frat houses and we don’t have parties every other day,” Sellas said. “We’re actually going out to different philanthropy events on campus; we try to be as active as possible.”

     Similarly to Schreck, Sellas said joining Greek life has had a positive influence on his college experience. He mentioned that philanthropies and different types of campus involvement taught him a lot about human relationship skills.

     Not everyone feels the same way, though, as Schreck and Sellas do about their Greek life experiences.

      Lillian Neubel originally joined a sorority at her last school in Virginia for the same reason many others do: friends.

     She said she was “disappointed” with her experience. Neubel said she found the time commitment overwhelming and her sorority sisters couldn’t understand why she had to miss events for work.

     “I had three good friends in my sorority and what separated us was finances,” Neubel said. “There was a lot of cattiness if I could not leave work to attend things like birthday parties or other events.”

     Similar to Neubel’s experience, an anonymous source said she experienced disappointment when she decided to rush a DePaul sorority her freshman year.

     Since she is an out-of-state student at DePaul, she decided to rush in hopes of gaining friends  who would “supposedly” have the same morals.

     Instead, she said, she experienced an overwhelming and time-consuming encounter while involved with her sorority.

     “The people in charge were very rude,” she said. “They basically threatened girls by telling them if they didn’t skip class or something, they would get dropped from their top sorority.”

     The anonymous source also said that she experienced some traumatizing situations in her personal life while she was involved with her sorority. Although she said was very communicative during the time, her sorority would not understand, but instead wanted to charge her for missing chapter meetings.

     Those involved with fraternities at DePaul have also experienced conflict.

     Early in 2017, DePaul’s Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter had many members placed on suspension for an incident.

     The fraternity involved itself in an issue involving several members being waterboarded– an interrogation technique simulating a drowning experience–by upperclassmen brothers.

     The incident later circulated through a group text between the fraternity and eventually made its way around the DePaul community and the National Board of Directors for Sigma Phi Epsilon.

     Colin Kieny, the current president, said the situation was an isolated incident.

     “It had nothing to do with new members at the time,” Kieny said. “The older guys were kind of just doing their own thing. As far as I know, it was voluntary and it was stupid, obviously. I guess that’s just like the nature of guys and [some] girls. But I guess it’s more of a guy thing to be competitive.”

     Kieny said that immediately after the incident, DePaul notified the National Board. An interview process ensued that implied if a member didn’t show up, they were removed from the fraternity, or if their interview did not seem valuable to the standards of the fraternity, they would also be suspended until further notice.

     Kieny said that only about six or seven members were left of the fraternity after the interviews.

      Two years after the incident, Kieny said that he and Sigma Phi Epsilon have been working on rebuilding their fraternity and preventing another incident from taking place again.

     Although the waterboarding incident may seem rare here at DePaul, the incident is not isolated among sororities and fraternities on a national scale. BBC News reports there have been at least 70 deaths related to fraternity and sorority hazing since 2000.

     Early in 2017, Tom Piazza, a Beta Theta Pi pledge at Penn State University died due to a hazing-related incident. Time reported that Piazza died by drinking a toxic amount of alcohol during a “so-called” hazing ritual involving pledges drinking out of a gauntlet.

     By the time fraternity members thought to seek medical aid for Piazza, he was already suffering injuries to his brain and spleen and died in the intensive-care unit.

     To many critics of Greek life, the history of recent deaths, hazing incidents and misconduct raises a debate about the presence of Greek life on college campuses.

     Sororities and fraternities often have a bad reputation for treating members unfairly – sometimes even violently. For each DePaul student who decides to rush, there is a diverse reason for choosing Greek life and there is an even wider range of reasons for why they choose to leave or stay. With mounting criticism, one can wonder if DePaul should continue expanding its Greek life on campus.