Originally created 10/15/02

Greek participation going strong at UGA



ATHENS, Ga. - Jarrett Horne woke at 6 a.m., donned an outfit she had bought for the third round of rush and received the list of sororities to which she had been invited back.

The freshman from Atlanta looked at the list for at least 20 minutes, weighing the fact that none of the sororities on the list were quite appealing to her. After making calculations about the nature of her upcoming four years at the University of Georgia, Ms. Horne undressed and went back to bed.

Ms. Horne, who says she may rush again next fall, is one of 1,227 women who registered for sorority rush in August. Two months after the completion of rush, 897 women - or 74 percent of the rushees - ended up pledging a sorority. Of 592 men who registered for rush, 455 - or 77 percent - ended up joining a fraternity.

Eighteen percent of UGA's undergraduates participate in the Greek system - more than in 1996, when the percentage dropped to an historic low, but less than in 1988, when 25 percent of the undergraduate population was Greek.

For the most part, however, Greek participation has remained at a relatively constant percentage of undergraduate enrollment at UGA, according to Claudia Shamp, the associate dean of student affairs and UGA's director of Greek life.

The Greek system is perhaps the most visible group on campus. Mansions abound throughout the city, with sweeping lawns and regal pillars.

In the past couple years, members of a sorority were accused of airing racist remarks during rush and a fraternity was shut down after a member was killed in a hazing-related accident - incidents that did not help the system's reputation.

Members of the Panhellenic Council, the governing body for the 18-member UGA sorority system; the Interfraternity Council, the group of 23 fraternities; and the National Pan-hellenic Council, the group of seven predominantly black fraternities and sororities, say their presence on campus is stronger than ever, and marked by their philanthropy and responsible approach to social activities.

"Most of the student leaders on campus are members of the Greek system," said Sidney Jones, an Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity member. "That's looked on with admiration and at the same time it's looked at with contempt."

Expanding on Mr. Jones' comment, Ms. Shamp said that the Greek system often battles age-old stereotypes.

"It's kind of a love-hate relationship," she said. "There are some people who look at Greeks in a very positive light, and there are some who don't. They may be operating on stereotypes or what they've seen on news shows."

Asked about the fact that the Greek system is still mostly segregated, Ms. Shamp said that it is unfair to pinpoint the sororities and fraternities when the problem is campuswide.

But Lauren Jones, a black freshman from Marietta who attended North Atlanta High School, chose not to participate in rush in part because she did not feel like she would fit in.

"Most of them are just white girls, average girls, in cute little skirts and shoes," she said.