Columbia rushes around anti-Greek policy


Andrea Cannon

Columbia rushes around anti-Greek policy

By Assistant Campus Editor

An email sent to students’ LoopMail accounts Nov. 9 about the campus bookstore selling sorority and fraternity gear despite the collegewide policy prohibiting Greek life left some students confused and others questioning the policy.

Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Success, said a formal Greek life system would not be supported on campus because Columbia is a different type of student community than many traditional campuses.

“Students are not allowed to [bring a chapter to campus],” Kelly said. “Like anything, a philosophical decision of the college can be revisited but the college does not support fraternities or sororities to be brought to campus.”

Kelly said the bookstore is offering Greek letters because the college supports the academia that follows Greek systems and because some student organizations use letters from the Greek alphabet as a symbol for their clubs.

“We’re very clear that we’re not a college that supports fraternities or sororities but we’re not, in any way, wanting to get in the way of students’ personal choices and what they decide to do beyond the campus,” Kelly said. 

Some students seem to have found a loophole in the college’s policy. Columbia students are rushing fraternities and sororities at citywide chapters and Chicago-area colleges, like DePaul University.  

Isaac French, a junior advertising and public relations major, joined DePaul University’s chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, a national Jewish fraternity, this semester. He said many fraternities on DePaul’s campus do not have a problem with accepting Columbia students—or other art school students—despite not being students at the college. 

“It just depends on the fraternity and whether or not they will allow outside students,” French said. “I didn’t really have to do anything with Columbia to get permission to join. [The college] doesn’t really care what you do in your free time.”

French said he spoke to the fraternity’s executive board, which includes members such as the chapter president and the fraternity scribe, to express interest in joining. French said the fraternity brothers required him to attend a few of the fraternity’s events to see if he liked the fraternity, and Greek life in general, and did not care that he went to Columbia or a school other than DePaul. 

Josh Sushan, the chapter president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, said Columbia students often reach out to other colleges’ fraternities and sororities, especially if they have existing connections at the specific fraternity or sorority.

“The only thing we ask is [that] during our rush period, we have calendar events, and the more [interested students] come out to those, the more they get to know who’s involved and they can get a better feel of Greek life,” Sushan said. “We ask that students from any school do that.”

Sushan, a junior finance and economics major, said he does not think there are set rules or guideline restricting who can join their chapters. Each fraternity and sorority can decide how many people can be in the chapter and whether or not they will allow outside members, he said. 

Ashlee Canty, the program coordinator for Fraternity and Sorority Life at DePaul, said students who do not attend DePaul are not allowed to join their Greek organizations unless the house is a citywide chapter. The other 25 DePaul chapters are closed to non-DePaul students, Canty said.

Chase Starks, a junior interactive arts & media major, said there are citywide chapters any college student may rush. Starks, who is a member of Omega Psi Phi, said he would love to bring Greek life chapters to Columbia’s campus because it would be a positive addition to a non-traditional college.

“I’m all for [bringing Greek life to Columbia],” Starks said. “With Greek life, it’ll bring out more events, more community service throughout the city and gather more joining members.”

However, Paris Le’Ora Hipps, a junior television major, said Greek life has no place on Columbia’s campus but would not care whether it made its way to the college.

“Some people join because they want to be a part of a sisterhood or a brotherhood to know people have their back or they want to help their community,” Hipps said. “I feel like you can do so without paying a few grand just to be a part of an organization that, if they’re trying to help their community, how are they doing so creating an elitist organization that’s separated from the community they want to serve?”

Sushan said that he would encourage students from all schools to look into fraternities and sororities because they benefit the students involved by serving as a networking tool and a way to make lifelong friends.

“It’s our mission to give these kids the best college experience they can get,” Sushan said. “It doesn’t matter what school they go to. If a Columbia student is connected with brothers of our chapter then by all means have him rush the chapter. A brother is a brother of the national fraternity no matter what school they’re in.”