Greek life constitutes a notable and growing presence on UChicago’s campus. There are 19 official Greek organizations currently operating on campus, including 10 fraternities and four sororities within the UChicago Panhellenic Council. While UChicago Greek life is unique in that none of the sororities have houses and many of the fraternities are located off-campus, student participation in Greek life has seen significant growth in the past several years.
Currently, the largest UChicago fraternity is Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), which is a mainstay for football players and has over 100 members. The fraternities Psi Upsilon (Psi U) and Alpha Delta Phi (Alpha Delt) have houses located along South University Avenue, just across from the Max Palevsky dormitories. Additionally, the Delta Upsilon (DU) house is located on Woodlawn Avenue, while Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), Lambda Phi Epsilon (Lambda), Sigma Phi Epsilon (Sig Ep), Sigma Chi, and Zeta Psi (Zeta) have houses that are further from campus.
While sororities lack physical houses, they still have an indelible presence on campus. There are four member sororities of the UChicago Panhellenic Council (Panhel): Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII), Delta Gamma (DG), Kappa Alpha Theta (Theta), and Pi Beta Phi (Pi Phi).
There’s also the Multicultural Greek Council, a coalition of identity-centered fraternities and sororities. The aforementioned Lambda is the largest, but there’s also Alpha Phi Alpha (black interest fraternity), Alpha Kappa Alpha (black interest sorority), Delta Sigma Theta (predominantly Black interest sorority), Lambda Pi Chi (Latina interest sorority), and alpha Kappa Delta Phi (aKDPhi, Asian interest sorority).
Some fraternities on campus gather students with similar professional goals or interests, rather than shared backgrounds. Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi) is a co-ed fraternity intended for students interested in business, and Phi Alpha Delta is for those interested in law. Both organizations hold events tailored to the academic and professional needs of their members, from LSAT prep sessions to networking seminars.
Last but certainly not least is Alpha Phi Omega (APO), UChicago’s only co-ed service fraternity. And there’s no rushing necessary: according to APO’s website, the only prerequisite to becoming a member is “an earnest desire to help out those that need it.”
Across the board, one of the major aspects of Greek life is philanthropy. Some of the events put on by Greek organizations include the Latke-Hamentash debate run by AEPi, Derby Days run by Sigma Chi, Arrowfest run by Pi Phi, and the Mr. University competition run by Theta. In 2016, FIJI reported raising over $25,000 for various causes, while Sigma Chi reported raising $20,030, and Panhel sororities raised a combined $131,800.
However, UChicago’s Greek life scene has had its share of controversy. In the 2015–16 school year, the Greek life community was rocked by allegations of sexual assault directed at brothers in Psi U and DU. In early 2016, racist and misogynistic e-mails sent by brothers of AEPi within their private listhosts were leaked to the public, prompting AEPi to publish an apology on Facebook. Many students complained to the administration about the fraternities’ behavior, and Student Government issued a resolution advising the University to suspend its relationship with AEPi, but the University has largely maintained a hands-off attitude toward Greek life.
In the fall of last year, brothers from a few of UChicago’s fraternities banded together to create the Fraternities Committed to Safety (FCS) policy, which states “a baseline of procedures aimed at preventing and properly responding to incidents of sexual violence,” according to the FCS website. All 10 fraternities signed the document initially, and meet quarterly to vote on re-signing it. However, members of the Phoenix Survivors Alliance (PSA) have reported violations of the FCS policy by several fraternities.
Despite the controversy that UChicago Greek life has seen, members cite long-lasting friendships and a supportive and close-knit community as some of its benefits. Sisters of the UChicago Panhellenic sororities praise the four-day recruitment process as a great way to meet people and make friends. Interestingly, according to a Grey City article written in 2016, the majority of UChicago students currently involved in Greek life had little or no interest in pursuing a role in the Greek community when they were incoming students. However, the overwhelming majority of the Greek collective reports high levels of satisfaction with their involvement.
While many students who join Greek life do so in their first year, the opportunity to join remains available for the duration of a student’s time in the College. Students who are unsure about joining can get a taste of the atmosphere by attending fraternity parties such as Alpha Delt’s weekly Bar Night or going to one of the many philanthropic events hosted by Greek organizations throughout the year. And while Greek life comprises a growing fraction of UChicago’s student body—nearly one-fifth at last count—the sense of community it provides to its members can veritably be found within housing, RSOs, or any one of the many other student groups and activities on UChicago’s campus.