Freshmen debate joining Greek life during the ongoing Abolish Greek Life movement


Kelsey Carroll/The Daily Northwestern

The Pi Kappa Alpha building in Northwestern’s fraternity quad. Many students feel torn over joining Greek life during the Abolish Greek Life movement.

Rosie Newmark, Reporter

On top of challenges with virtual recruitment due the COVID-19 pandemic, students considering joining sororities and fraternities face a second layer of concerns: the Abolish Northwestern Greek Life movement.

In July 2020, an anonymous Instagram account began to post current students’ and alumni’s negative experiences with NU Greek life to shed light on injustices and advocate for abolition. 

The account made many freshmen, including Weinberg freshman Avanti Parkhe, question whether they wanted to go through recruitment. 

“I don’t think I was going to end up rushing anyway, but all of the stuff that was coming out about the movement made me more sure that I didn’t want to rush,” Parkhe said. “I just think that people who are rushing should probably do some research and make sure they’re not joining something that is perpetuating a bunch of bad things.”

Despite the NU Panhellenic Association’s decision to cancel PHA-sponsored recruitment for Winter Quarter, some individual chapters have been conducting informal recruitment through Zoom information sessions. NU’s Interfraternity Council has also been holding official recruitment online. 

Weinberg freshman Jack Landgraff said he is interested in joining because he believes joining a fraternity will be a fun experience, but he is skeptical of Greek life because of the movement. 

According to Landgraff, one major issue is whether fraternities and sorority are committed to real change.

“The thing that I would like to see addressed the most in order to really feel comfortable joining a fraternity is they need to acknowledge the fact that a lot of people associate those communities with sexual assault,” he said. “I would expect a lot more open acknowledgement of that and a lot more head-on dealing with that problem.”

Although there has been a lot of controversy on campus about the morality of joining Greek life, many freshmen are still hopeful to get a bid from a fraternity or sorority. The controversy made SESP freshman Sally Kim wary of going through recruitment, but she decided to not rule it out completely.

“I wasn’t going to rush because of the movement, but I feel like the sororities that I’m looking into are really trying to reform,” Kim said. “I know the Abolish NU Greek Life (movement) says reformation is impossible, but I just want to see how it is personally rather than just hearing about experiences from other people.” 

Some sororities have made public statements about the movement and have dedicated their chapters to making Greek life more inclusive, including Kappa Alpha Theta, Alpha Phi and Chi Omega.

Kim said she was hopeful Greek life could change in the future.

“There are definitely still sororities that care about appearance and income,” Kim said. “But I feel like a lot of other sororities are trying to reach out to everyone and make sure that if you’re a part of any minority group, whether it be religion, ethnicity or gender, that they will try to be more inclusive.”

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