Written by Ellen Weaver
Large and small universities across the United States have embedded within them a Greek tradition that goes back decades, even centuries. While Fontbonne is rich in her own history and tradition, students lack the opportunity to be Greek. It is up for debate if having a Greek system at Fontbonne would be beneficial or relevant. Some students think that Fontbonne’s organizations, clubs, and teams “stand in” as unintentional fraternities and sororities. Others believe that Greek life is used to make a large campus smaller, so there isn’t a point in making an already small, commuter-fueled campus even smaller.
On February 21st,a GriffinRoar Twitter poll was circulated to gauge potential involvement in Greek life if it were present on Fontbonne’s campus. The poll ran for 48 hours and closed at 212 votes. The results failed to give a clear majority — 52% were in favor of Greek life, while 48% opposed.
Junior James Sauermann was one of the 110 students who voted yes. Wearing khaki shorts, Sperry’s and a Patagonia hat, he explained just what it is about Greek life that Fontbonne is missing out on.
“The aspect of being part of a group where it’s different people from different lifestyles coming together and kind of being under like one name. Also, like the party aspect is appealing, but I think it’s more than just partying when being in a fraternity. It’s community service, I think it’s brotherhood. There’s just a lot about it that is, from what I’ve seen with my friends on social media, fun,” said Sauermann.
For him, having Greek life on campus would be an opportunity for students to reach out and form relationships with students that they wouldn’t normally talk to. Students often get stuck in a rut of coming to class and then going home. There isn’t anything keeping them on campus.
Sauermann believes that sports at Fontbonne has become a substitute for Greek life.
Athletic teams at Fontbonne University are active in community service, growing together as a group, and supporting other teams. Within the sports, there are different houses that team members live and socialize at, respectively. The only difference is they don’t have letters hanging above their doors.
Sophomore Megan McKenzie also sees athletics acting as fraternities and sororities. She supports Greek organizations and the idea that these types of groups would facilitate a more inclusive atmosphere among students.
“Our sports are so separate. If you had like a sorority, then we could all be together,” sophomore Megan McKenzie confided. “You join a sorority to make it smaller and have a group of people you can like connect with. It’s [sports are] like a substitute for Greek life.”
Not everyone feels that way.
Freshman Chris Kolios was one of the 102 students who voted ‘no’ in the Twitter poll.
While many students believe that Greek life would make the campus more inclusive, others feel the opposite.
“Personally, I think Fontbonne would be too small to have greek life. I feel like greek life is to bring people together and I don’t think Fontbonne is a big enough school to do that, and also, being part of a sports team really like gives me that type of feel of brotherhood or sisterhood and I don’t think I need a Greek life for that,” said Kolios.
Kolios also thinks that having Greek life would make our already small and exclusive university even more exclusive.
“At other universities I’ve visited it’s more secluded, even more if you’re a guy and not in a frat, then you’re not getting into a certain house. So I feel like the sports teams, the dynamic we have here lets us be open.”
Another opposing stance comes from junior Allison Phelps.
She also believes that Fontbonne is too small for Greek life to really be beneficial. A word she used to describe going Greek on our campus was “frivolous”.
“One thing that’s very distinct to Fontbonne is that it seems as though the same people are in every organization. I don’t see Greek life being very different. For example, either the same group of 20-30 people would join, or the entire campus join and that would join and that would defeat the purpose of a more elite or selective subgroup.”
While students may debate the pros and cons and benefits and frivolities, AJ Friedhoff, director of residential life at Fontbonne University, claims that having Greek life would be unrealistic at Fontbonne. Friedhoff began and chartered his chapter of Pi Kappa Phi at Mizzou and then went on to work for its national headquarters post-graduation. He’s familiar with the process of fraternities and the efforts they require to start and maintain organizations like them. Logistically, it would not be feasible for Fontbonne to have a successful Greek life and realistically, the campus is too small.
“There’s the business side of Greek life that I think a lot of people don’t realize. There’s, one, a lot more insurance. Fraternities and sororities are pretty risky organizations. Incidents do happen and to be part of a Greek organization, you have to have extra insurance and that can cost like $200-$300 extra a semester or year. It also depends on the amount of people you have. The average fraternity size nationally is 50 men while the average sorority size is well over 100.”
With that being the average size, it would be hard to upkeep the number of students willing to join at Fontbonne. The less members that join, the more expensive it would be per person to keep up with fees.
The possibility of Greek organizations being present on Fontbonne’s campus seems unlikely, but there are other opportunities through clubs, organizations, athletics, and residence halls to find the camaraderie students seek.
Ellen Weaver is a culture editor and contributor to Fontbonne University’s Griffin Roar.