Off Campus, Harvard Goes Greek

In defining their social lives, Harvard students follow a national trend

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Princeton, like Harvard, does not recognize sororities and fraternities, but the relationship between Greek life and Princeton’s administration could be characterized as more hostile.

According to Princeton undergraduates, the administration sends a letter home to incoming freshmen actively discouraging them from joining sororities and fraternities.

Kelsey A. Platt, the president of Princeton’s Panhellenic Council, wrote in an email that she hopes to see the relationships between Princeton and Greeks improve in the future and that if the number of women rushing the school’s sororities continues to increase, the Council will likely look into adding another sorority in the near future.

A FOURTH SORORITY?

In 2003 Harvard’s Panhellenic Council added a third sorority—Kappa Kappa Gamma—when it decided that there were not enough sororities to accommodate the rising interest in Greek life on campus. That year, about 120 women had rushed sororities; Delta Gamma and Theta accepted only about 20 people each.

This past school year, with 268 women rushing, Kappa extended 57 bids, Theta 55, and DG about 60, according to each sorority’s leaders.

Although the number of women accepted by each sorority has grown steadily, sorority leaders have said that especially with the recent increase in numbers, the creation of a fourth sorority may be on the horizon.

But despite the growing interest in Greek life, House Masters said that students should focus their energies on improving House communities, rather than creating another sorority.

“I’m always suspicious of a club that builds itself on gendered exclusivity,” Cabot House Master Rakesh Khurana said. “It’s so much easier to hang out with people who remind you of your favorite person—yourself—than it is to figure out how to create an organic real community that has strength in its diversity.”

When asked if she thought Harvard should add a fourth sorority, Cabot House Master Stephanie Khurana—who was president of Cornell’s Panhellenic Council as an undergraduate and a member of Cornell’s Fraternity and Sorority Advisory Council as an alumnae—had a simple answer.

“No.”

Organic relationships can be formed within one’s House, the Khuranas argue, thus making Greek organizations unnecessary.

National Panhellenic Council Northeast Advisor Patricia Gesell wrote in an email that the process for adding a sorority is complicated and centers on demonstrating that another sorority would improve the quality of Greek life on that campus.

Recently sorority presidents at Harvard declined to comment on the status of plans for a fourth sorority.

University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and Cornell have all voted recently to add another sorority to their campuses.

“The record number of girls demonstrates that there’s definitely a demand for sorority life on campus,” Kappa President Anna S. He ’12 said in February. “We want a fourth sorority on campus and we’re going to push for it.”

—Staff writer Monika L. S. Robbins can be reached at mrobbins@college.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at hrouse@college.harvard.edu.

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