Five Greek organizations suspended for hazing violations will return to Emory’s campus by Spring 2019, according to Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life Marlon Gibson. Sorority Delta Sigma Theta will return Fall 2017 and fraternities Phi Delta Theta Fall 2017, Kappa Alpha Order (KA) Spring 2018, Sigma Nu Fall 2018 and Chi Phi Spring 2019, Gibson said.
All chapters will recruit new members, with field consultants from national organization headquarters responsible for the first pledge class recruitment, according to Associate Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life Arthur Doctor.
The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life (OSFL) had initiated conversations with Delta Sigma’s national headquarters about the sorority’s return to Emory following the end of its suspension in 2014 due to a high level of interest from Emory alumni and students.
Talks were also underway between OSFL and Phi Delta Theta, which was handed a four-year suspension in 2013, according to a July 2013 Wheel article. Sigma Nu was similarly given a five-year suspension in 2013 for hazing violations, according to a May 2014 Wheel article and has also been in communication with OSFL about its return to campus.
There was a strong desire within the Emory community, including alumni members and the Board of Trustees, for KA and Chi Phi to return to campus in time for the 150th anniversary of the organizations at Emory. The two organizations’ founding in 1869 serve as the establishment of Greek life at Oxford campus, according to University Historian Gary Hauk.
“It’s important [the chapters] are back and active by their 150th,” Doctor said. “It’s probably the oldest tradition that Emory has.”
Both national organizations have remained in contact with OSFL throughout their suspensions, with alumni members and headquarters advocating for their eventual return.
KA to Return Prior to End of Suspension
KA will return one year prior to the end of their three-year suspension, which they received for hazing in 2015. Per the terms of their original suspension, KA was not supposed to be allowed to apply for re-colonization on campus until the 2017-18 academic year for the following year, according to a July 2015 Wheel article.
When a fraternity attempts to return early, Emory’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) votes on and recommends to Emory administration and Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life (OSFL) whether the organization should be allowed to return early. The final decision regarding any returns rests with Gibson, Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair and Assistant Vice President of Community Suzanne Onorato.
Following a Fall 2016 presentation from KA, IFC voted against an early return for the fraternity, according to Alex Van Gorp (17B), who was IFC president Fall 2016.
“In the opinion of the IFC, there wasn’t [any reason to allow KA to return early],” Van Gorp said. “We preferred that they come back at their regular schedule, just like any other organization that is seeking to return to campus.”
University officials decided to go against IFC’s recommendation and allow the fraternity to return a year early.
“KA had asked to come back Fall of 2016 and we came to an agreement that the best time for them [to return] would be Spring of 2018,” Gibson said, adding that administration wanted all members of KA who were active prior to the suspension period to have graduated before their return.
The future residential location of each organization on campus is currently unknown, with the exception of Delta Sigma, which is set to move into its former Lodge B residence in Sorority Village in the fall, according to Doctor.
Lodge B is currently sophomore housing and is unaffiliated with any Greek organization. Delta Sigma national representatives began recruitment this semester, Doctor said. The sorority will return to campus after a six-year absence, following a four-year suspension for hazing in 2011.
OSFL hired consulting firm PLAID to help modify the Greek housing system as a number of returning organizations vie for the houses they previously occupied.
“We are in constant communication with Residence Life and Housing partners to discuss future housing,” Doctor said regarding chapters’ return to campus. “We are still in the process of developing how chapters will return to their former spaces.”
In efforts to bring chapters back to their original living spaces, OSFL hopes to have KA move back to their original Eagle Row home.
“It is public knowledge that our goal is that KA would return to their house for the Fall of 2019,” Gibson said.
PLAID surveyed more than 7,000 Emory community members. The firm will provide an official recommendation to the University this summer regarding management of providing housing for both current organizations and former organizations returning to campus that desire their old living quarters. Additionally, PLAID will advise Emory on its Greek Life alumni engagement.
By 2019, the campus will support 35 Greek organizations, the highest number in the University’s history, according to Gibson. He anticipates an increase in student participation in Greek life due to the increased options available as well as different methods of recruitment.
“The chapters that are coming back are extremely strong [in the recruitment process],” Gibson said. When asked what would happen should a chapter only recruit a few new members, Gibson said: “That won’t happen at Emory.”
According to IFC Bylaws, each fraternity chapter must recruit at least 30 members.
Gibson and IFC declined to release recruitment numbers for the past two years of rush.
Both Doctor and Gibson said they don’t expect the addition of new and returning organizations to hurt Greek life recruitment, but instead force chapters to change their recruitment methods in the face of increased competition. Gibson cited various recruitment events that fraternities could organize, like laser tag, that would take them out of the traditional “event at the house from seven to nine” model.
“Some students are sick of what they see on Eagle Row and are looking for something different, and new chapters can provide that,” Gibson said.
He also advised chapters to think about ways they could recruit students not interested in the traditional Greek life party scene.
“The Rhodes Scholar is not going to walk into your party on Eagle Row,” Gibson said he tells chapters. “What are you doing to go out and meet the best and brightest of Emory?”
Overall, Doctor and Gibson expressed hope that the growth of Greek life will dispel myths that the University is attempting to get rid of it.
“The perception that we’re trying to get rid of Greek life is not the case at all,” Doctor said. “If we were, chapters would not be returning.”
New, and Returning Greek Organizations
In addition to the five Greek organizations returning from suspensions, sorority Sigma Gamma Rho is returning to campus after a 17-year absence following a petering out of interest, according to Doctor.
Fraternity Beta Theta Pi initiated 30 new members February 2017, after a period of reorganization following a sexual assault allegation, according to a Sept. 7 article by the Wheel. All members of the former chapter have been granted early alumni status by the organization’s national headquarters.
Emory’s first Latino fraternity, Lambda Sigma Upsilon, became a member of Emory’s Multicultural Greek Council in fall 2016. Sorority Pi Beta Phi established an Emory chapter Spring 2016 and is initiating its second member class this spring.
Julia Munslow contributed reporting.