By Brianna Winn
From networking to academics to philanthropy, Greek life has been and still is a huge part of the collegiate experience. Fraternities and sororities today and in the past, have been seen in both a positive and negative light since the implementation of the organizations into the University of Utah.
Utah’s fraternity and sorority life began in the fall of 1909 when the first fraternity was chartered and established. The first sorority on campus was founded in 1913. According to the University of Utah’s official Greek life website, today, the University of Utah has 18 fraternities and sororities with over 1,600 students involved.
The Fraternity Study Committee was appointed in November 1960 by President Albert Ray Olpin to conduct a comprehensive study of the fraternities and sororities on campus. According to the Committee, President Olpin had three main objectives with this study: “to discover and describe as objectively as possible, the past and present characteristics of fraternities and sororities, to project their future role on campus, and to identify ways and means by which fraternities and sororities can meet their goals within the framework of the University education objectives.” (Report to Dr. A. Ray Olpin, p. 3) This study was proposed to assist in the long-range planning for Greek life on campus.
Just like today, a good deal of attention, both positive and negative, was focused on fraternities and sororities across the nation. “Fraternity and sorority organizations have found themselves in conflict with some university administrations to the point that the individual chapters had left several campuses.” (Report to Dr. A. Ray Olpin, p. 3) The Committee that was appointed by President Olpin consisted of representatives from the Regents, administration, faculty, students, and alumni.
The Daily Utah Chronicle reported on October 10, 1962, that this study was one of the most complete studies of its kind to be undertaken by a university. The 98-page report was compiled over for a year and a half by the Committee.
The first meetings of the alumni dealt with defining the scope of the research program and outlining the different sources of information that would be needed to meet the objectives of the study. “Following the collection of data from students, faculty, alumni, parents, and school records, the Committee has considered the material and used the information as a basis for making recommendations.” (Report to Dr. A. Ray Olpin, President, p. 4)
On October 3, 1962, The Daily Utah Chronicle article announced that the University had just completed a study of the fraternity and sorority systems on campus. The Committee had released the results of the study. The Daily Utah Chronicle reported that most of the Greek houses were originally constructed as private homes and later converted to fraternity and sorority dwellings. This caused problems such as congestion, inadequate facilities, limited parking, and strained relationships with private citizens living in the area.
The Daily Utah Chronicle reported on October 10, 1962, that the factors of importance in this study were issues such as, the rapid enrollment growth of the school with an increase in out-of-state and married students and the development of a strong residence hall program. Also, the article reported other issues such as, the construction of the Union facilities to meet students’ out-of-classroom needs, the inadequacies of housing for fraternities and sororities and the need for the development of understanding between the University community about the ways in which fraternities and sororities could contribute to the educational objectives of the University.
The data in this study were collected through interviews, surveys, use of school records, and involved both affiliated and non-affiliated students, faculty, parents, and alumni.
The Daily Utah Chronicle reported October 10, 1962, that as the final feature of the study, the committee made some recommendations. Thus, based on the belief that the fraternities and sororities at the University of Utah are an important part of the University community, and they make substantial contributions to the educational experiences of students.
This study found, that the membership in fraternities and sororities has remained relatively constant in the last seven years as have the number of those who have gone through fall rush. Also, there are three fraternities and three sororities that limit their membership based on a belief in the Christian religion. The majority of faculty, students, parents, and alumni felt that more information about sororities and fraternities is needed by incoming students if they are asked to join the organization. Regarding housing, if future building and construction are to take place, the University support will be needed to achieve the necessary changes. Lastly, although all national organizations have specifically outlawed any type of hazing, there is some evidence that pre-initiation activities remain a problem in some fraternities. However, progress is being made in this area and hazing activities have become less severe in recent years. (Report to Dr. A. Ray Olpin, pp. 42-45)
The Greek organizations continue to grow across the United States because of their strong national organizations that give financial, housing, membership selection advise, assistant and support. The Chronicle reports April 28, 1970, that the Greeks have given more of their time, energy, and means than any other group to make the University of Utah what it is and to help make many programs successful.
In an article published on April 4, 1970, The Daily Utah Chronicle said through a unique combination of unity in its ranks and diversity in its membership, the Greek system will continue its vital contribution to University life.
Greek organizations are and have been important to colleges all around the nation. Although they must be monitored and frequently observed, they provide students with a plethora of networking, scholarship, academic, and social opportunities.
Brianna Winn is a junior at the University of Utah. She is currently pursuing a degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism.
“Housing, Scholarship, Finances Studied,” The Daily Utah Chronicle, October 2, 1962, 2.
“Greek Study Complete; Committee Reports,” The Daily Utah Chronicle, October 10, 1962, 2.
“Recommendations Made by Greek Study Forum,” The Daily Utah Chronicle, October 3, 1962, 2.
“Recommendations Seek Control,” The Daily Utah Chronicle, October 4, 1962, 2.
“What have the Greeks Done for U?” The Daily Utah Chronicle, April 28, 1970, 2.
Cynthia J. Wootton, “Greeks: Progress or Perish,” The Daily Utah Chronicle, April 30, 1970, 5.
Fraternity Study Committee, University of Utah. Report to Dr. A. Ray Olpin, President, University of Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah, 1962.