College Fraternities, Sororities Rush To Make Comeback
Posted September 5, 2003 2:00 a.m. EDT
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — It is rush time on North Carolina college campuses -- students not only rushing to class, but also rushing fraternities and sororities.
After years of declining membership, the Greek system is rushing to make a comeback.
The rush is on as houses vie for pledges. This is the time fraternities and sororities try to attract new members.
It is a numbers game: Who can get the most when the pool is only so big?
"Oh, well, definitely," said Clayton Bromberg, who is in a fraternity at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, "especially with increasing insurance premiums. You have to get a certain number of guys to have a chance to even survive."
At UNC, two fraternities and two sororities have closed in the past two years. The Alpha Epsilon Pi house, for example, used to bear the letters of Sigma Nu. But Sigma Nu folded because of dwindling numbers.
Carolina has 21 fraternities and sororities. But only 15 percent of undergraduates are members.
Fraternities across the country went through a rough period in the 1990's. Membership dropped 25 percent, according to the national group that represents most of them. But since 1999, the nuimbers have been on the upswing, with membership growing at 3 percent a year.
"I would say increasing," said UNC sophomore Jennifer Lacey. "There was just a jump from last year. There were 150 more girls that rushed this year than there were last year."
Several houses have been renovated.
"I think seeing newer houses, seeing fresher faces, is starting to change the image on campus," said UNC fraternity member Craig Hoovler.
UNC has new rush rules, with the rushing only allowed on certain days. Officials figure less pressure could mean more interest.
It is a critical time for sororities and fraternities. In a system of letters, it is the numbers that mean the most.