There has been a significant increase in the number of students pledging Greek this year. Around 2,000 students, or one in 11, are involved in the 36 Greek life organizations at UCSD, which includes 13 fraternities, 10 sororities and 13 multicultural fraternities and sororities. Member counts are expected to further increase in the near future.
Greek Life Adviser Lindsay McKinney said that this year, UCSD has the largest new member class since 2006. Panhellenic Council President Karen Roemer said that this is a result of new publicity tactics, particularly through improving Greek reputation on campus and targeting incoming students early on before the beginning of the school year.
“Through this, our community better expressed our unity to potential new members,” PHC Vice President of Marketing Kayla Trautwein said. “As a result, new members could understand that though they choose a specific sorority during fall formal recruitment, they become part of a community at large.”
Trautwein and Interfraternity Council Vice President of Recruitment Kit Wong said that Greek organizations tried to emphasize that Greek life is not just about socializing, he said. This may have spurred growth.
Wong said fraternity members were asked to be open about their life both as Greeks and outside of Greek life, and act as role models.
Fraternities modeled their informational nights after those of PHC; prospective members would meet all frats instead of a few, as they did in previous years. This lessened a feeling of intimidation some students felt from loud block party informational sessions IFC hosted in previous years. Wong said this might have prevented people from rushing.
“We tried making it so that guys didn’t walk out with this stereotype that they get at other campuses that we’re just here to have a good time,” IFC Vice President of Public Relations Clinton Rodriguez said. “We were all inclusive; we weren’t trying to only hang out with Greeks, we were hanging out with everyone in school.”
This year, IFC also began implementing a system known as Reach Standards, in which fraternities are ranked on a scale of 1 to 4 in categories including philanthropy. Brothers are now expected to fulfill a certain amount of service hours and attend sorority philanthropy events.
For some, this made Greek life more attractive; for others, Wong anticipates that it will be something they learn to appreciate.
“Some people do want to go in with the mindset that they want to be really philanthropic, but some people of course are looking for the more social aspect and try to capitalize on the opportunity to network,” he said. “At the end of the day, because of the influence of the people around you, you learn not to take your life for granted and give back.”
These changes helped fraternities recover from a slight decrease in pledges in the past few years, with chapters’ average jumping from 16 pledges per fraternity last year to 18 this year.
Sororities in turn have begun advertising their commitment to supporting organizations like Make-A-Wish Foundation over the social aspects of Greek life, giving prospective members a sense of which sororities they share values with. Trautwein said this encouraged a better connection between sororities and member.
“All of our organizations were founded on a set of values, and we worked hard to educate chapters on how to convey this to potential new members,” Trautwein said. “Sororities were better able to better select women that aligned with their core values, and potential new members were able to do the same.”
The Greek organizations said that they are not surprised by their growth given these marketing tactic changes. However, Trautwein was impressed by the Greeks’ success in conveying the positive aspects of Greek life.
“We really made recruitment about the potential new members’ experiences rather than our own,” she said. “Overall, I feel really great about the direction that recruitment went and I have high hopes for next year in terms of making an even further increase.”