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Greek life remains strong despite fluctuating membership

Despite an uptick in fraternity membership in recent years, the small size of this year’s pledge class has some members worried about the future of Greek life at Hofstra.

“If quota does not get met, it is almost like a fraternity is dying,” said Stephan Hatchett, a sophomore video/television and film major and president of Sigma Alpha Mu. “It is very hard and sad to see these fraternities that have been here since literally the 1980s slowly dying on this campus.”

According to U.S. News and World Report, there are currently 6,861 undergraduate students at Hofstra and only 1,000 students actively participate in Greek life.

“Mind you that sorority recruitment receives between 100 to 200 girls every spring,” Hatchett said. “As for fraternities, we are constantly scraping for boys.”

“Fraternity life is not the same as it was back in the day, especially with incidents of hazing at the bigger schools and institutions,” Hatchett said. “Even at Hofstra, there was an incident with the Sigma Pi fraternity that occurred when I was becoming a freshman.” Sigma Pi was banned from campus in 2015 after The Chronicle released an article citing evidence of hazing rituals performed on pledges.

“I know that a lot of kids my age didn’t want to rush because they thought that was going to happen to them,” Hatchett said. “Parents are holding back their kids as well in fear of that happening to them.”

This year, many first-year students were skeptical of joining Greek life as well. “

At first, it wasn’t something that I really wanted to do,” said Grant Geldhof, a freshman psychology major. “I am two hours away from [Pennsylvania] State University and I actually knew a couple of people who were involved with the death of one of the fraternity pledges, and it really scared me.”

Geldhof ultimately decided to pledge Sigma Alpha Mu this semester.

According to data shared by Alexandra Federico, assistant director for fraternity and sorority life at Hofstra, statistics show that between the spring of 2018 and the spring of 2019, the Interfraternity Council has seen a 17% increase in new membership, expanding the amount of total members by 9.8%.

“Overall, within the last three years, [fraternity retention] has been an upward trend,” Federico said.

“A lot of people only see one side of it,” said Zach Gollin, a junior finance and accounting major. Gollin also serves as treasurer of Phi Delta Theta and vice president of the Interfraternity Council. “They just think that these kids party a lot and never miss a bar night, but it is a lot more than that.”

Chase Laxdal, a senior chemistry major and member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, feels that the current fluctuation in membership does not correlate with the future fate of fraternities.

“It is just normal for small schools to have smaller pledge classes,” Laxdal said. “They might have a big pledge class one year, but then they will have a small pledge class the next year.”

Although Greek life in general has changed greatly over the years, it is still based on the same core values. “It helps provide a smaller home within Hofstra and provides those peers you can rely on, those who are going to help raise you up, help you grow and provide those networking connections,” Federico said.

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