Greek Life set to return to Reinhardt in 2018

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Reinhardt University has begun to welcome fraternity and sorority chapters on campus for
the first time since the 1990’s. The Kappa Sigma Fraternity was the first chapter implemented
and after spring of 2018, will be followed by a second fraternity- Tau Kappa Epsilon- and
sorority Zeta Tau Alpha. According to Walter May, “Fraternity life was here [at Reinhardt] back in
the 1960’s to early 1990’s. It was a local system which is dramatically different from a national,
accredited group. So during the 1960’s, the first sororities developed out of what was originally
called debating societies, really just social clubs. They served a purpose for a long time, [but]
the local systems didn’t really benefit the university, and they were really more of a detriment.
So in the 1990’s President Falany decided that he would phase them out.” Not long after the
initial removal of the local Greek Life systems, there was much discussion of implementing
sorority/fraternity life once again, but on a larger level. As May said, “ Since I’ve been here,
since 2001, there’s been on going conversations about bringing fraternity/sorority life [back],
bringing a national system in. We’ve done a number of feasibility studies, a number of
consulting groups and focus groups, and the students are interested.” Also as May had stated,
“We know that one of our retention strategies would be to bring in one of these nation-wide
groups. People that are involved in these organizations retain at a higher level and are more
engaged and more connected with the university and the community. So we knew that would be
another way to connect our students. On campuses such as Reinhardt, our highest retention
rates are with our athletic students [and] our performing arts students- and that’s 70% of our
students. The 30% of our students who aren’t in those pods really needed to find a way to
connect. So this is just another strategy and another way to make those connections.”

When choosing the new chapters to bring in, administration went to great lengths to find the
best fit for the university. According to May, “This past year we went through what’s called an
extension process, and we brought in several different- probably about four to six sororities who
applied. They applied to us and went through the process, we reviewed their applications and
viewed their things, and selected four [sororities] to bring to campus to interview- kind of like a job
interview. And they did presentation groups, and the committee, faculty and staff selected Zeta
to be our first.” After Zeta Tau Alpha and Tau Kappa Epsilon debut next spring, students can
expect Greek Life to “Bring more connection, more activity- you’ll see more engagement on
campus. You’ll see in sororities, the expectations of their members are not just involving their
organization, but involving multiple organizations, and so what you’ll see around that is more
intramural stuff. You’ll see more student organizations and more leadership in those
organizations. You’ll see more spirit and more activities on campus, and fraternity/sorority life
will actually impact weekend and weeknight events- so you’ll get to see all of these different
opportunities.” Students involved with Zeta Tau Alpha can also expect an overall sense of
“sisterhood” according to the sorority’s executive coordinator, Monica Ceja.
One thing Reinhardt students can’t count on seeing are sorority and fraternity housings on
campus, as the university does not plan for such arrangements. May has said, “Our plan right
now- there’s different methodologies for having meeting spaces and housing spaces for
fraternities and sororities. There’s what’s called a chapter room model, which is basically a
facility or room that’s in a large building, and there’s lodges which is a model with a free standing
structure that fraternities and sororities use, but there’s no housing in them. Then there’s the
housing model, which has the capacity of meeting and living spaces. We are right now doing
chapter room model, we’ll be using Lawson classrooms on nights and weekends when they’re
not being used for classroom space. There will be three classrooms now that will be set aside
for the Kappa Sigma, Tau Kappa, and Zeta, and they’ll be their spaces. Now, five or six years down
the road- as the groups grow- the goal right now is for each chapter to have about 45 to 55
members. That’s the financial viability level and engagement level we’re looking for. Long term,
ten years from now, we’d like to see 80 to 90 members.”

Students can look forward to seeing both new chapters- Tau Kappa Epsilon and Zeta Tau
Alpha- in full effect by next spring. And faculty and staff can look forward with expectant
optimism, like that exemplified by Dr. May. As he stated in closing, “I’m really excited about this
process, I think that fraternity/sorority life will have a dramatic, positive experience and positive
impact on our campus. I think [it will provide] great additional opportunities for our students to
get engaged and get connected to each other and the larger community.”

 

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