Greek life grows at GV

Courtesy Photo/ Jessica Rhodes
All of this years sorority members of the Panhellenic Association.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo/ Jessica Rhodes All of this year’s sorority members of the Panhellenic Association.

Judson Rodriguez

This fall on Grand Valley State University’s campus, freshman enrollment is not the only thing growing — during the last four years, GVSU’s Greek life community has been steadily increasing.

In the winter of 2007 there were 568 members in a sorority or fraternity. Membership reached the 1,000-member mark in the winter of 2010, and last peaked at 1,184 in the winter of 2011.

In the wake of the recent boom, the largest issue facing the Greek Life community is simply a matter of space.SClBThe GVSU Panhellenic Association voted Tuesday to allow the formation of sorority Tri Sigma, which left campus in 2005 but hopes to return next fall.

The association wanted to add a new sorority in hopes of diffusing the sorority population to open up space for necessary meetings.

Tom Coy, assistant director of GVSU Student Life, said it is important to spread out the sorority population, because finding large areas of space for each sorority to meet can pose a problem.

“Adding Tri Sigma would help to diffuse membership in the sororities on campus and create a more personal experience for the currently overly-crowded sororities,” said Simonne Horman, president of the Panhellenic Association.

The vote Tuesday resulted in a tie over the year Tri Sigma will return to GVSU. Horman said the university can be certain it will be by 2013, though the association is aiming for the fall of 2012.

Coy attributed the recent growth of the Greek Life to the nature of the community itself, which he said is unique in preserving values that many other institutions have long forgotten. These values, he believes, are what have attracted more student interest in the past four years.

“Grand Valley attracts many students who are not only academically excellent, but who have been previously involved in athletics, leadership and service experiences,” Coy said, adding that those experiences create a desire to give back to the community through service and leadership within a fraternity or sorority.

Coy said GVSU’s Greek Life priorities differ from most other universities in Michigan, with academics valued over partying. With a higher overall GPA than the general GVSU student body, Greek Life members are held to stringent academic standards while representing their fraternity or sorority on campus.

“Academics, philanthropy and service are all things we hold pride in, but emphasizing academics is our main area of focus,” said Bryan Beran, Delta Sigma Phi member and staff assistant in the Office of Student Life.

Coy added that GVSU Greek Life has not embraced many of the negative traditions that are associated with Greek Life on campuses around the country, like hazing, which emerged in the ’60s and ’70s.

“When you look at other universities you see instances of negative behavior like hazing, that our students here would not tolerate,” Coy said.

For more information on Greek life at GVSU, visit their website at

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Info table

Greek life membership through the years

Winter 2007 568 members

Winter 2008 759 members

Winter 2009 860 members

Winter 2010 967 members

Winter 2011 1,184 members

Fall 2011 6,950 members