Members of pre-professional Greek life reflect on their chapters amid Abolish Greek Life movement


Illustration by Angeli Mittal

While some members of pre-professional Greek life say the Abolish NU Greek Life movement does not apply to them, others are working to implement reforms.

Avani Kalra, Reporter

As some members of the Northwestern community call for the permanent removal of Greek life chapters in NU’s Panhellenic Association and Interfraternity Council, members of pre-professional Greek life are reflecting on whether those demands impact their organizations. 

Alan Chao is president of Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed social and pre-professional business fraternity at Northwestern unaffiliated with PHA and IFC. Chao has worked to reform Alpha Kappa Psi’s practices to increase the organization’s accessibility.

“Because of those conversations, we recognized the need to change some of the structures within (Alpha Kappa) Psi,” Chao said. 

Reform started with recruitment, he said. In the past, Chao said rush revolved around a “cut-throat” interview process where the chapter selected recruits based on who could correctly answer the greatest number of difficult questions about business-related concepts. 

While Chao said the rush process prepared him for internship interviews, he felt strongly that the chapter should restructure the recruitment procedures to achieve a holistic view of each candidate, including their character. 

“There was a culture that dominated a lot of the business world about elitism that made brothers in the past feel like they had to really grill these kids (and) make it challenging for the sake of being challenging,” Chao said. “I don’t necessarily think that’s what a business fraternity should be looking for — it should be a lot more supportive.”

He added Alpha Kappa Psi’s rush process was preserved out of habit. Members of leadership adopted the tendencies of former iterations of the chapter — a cycle he said it’s important to break.

In addition to reforming the recruitment process, Chao said he is working to increase diversity in the chapter. 

In the past year and a half, Alpha Kappa Psi has created a women’s-only event and established a diversity chair, Chao said. The chapter has also been distancing from the national chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi, he said.

“Incoming members haven’t had to pay any dues whatsoever –– we fundraise for them ourselves,” Chao said. “Students shouldn’t have to pay their own hard-earned money to Nationals. They charge egregious amounts to pay for their branding.” 

Returning members of Alpha Kappa Psi on financial aid can apply through the Student Activities Assistance Fund to subsidize any dues.

Weinberg junior Ray Yu is a member of Delta Sigma Pi, a business fraternity that is not related to IFC. 

Yu said he hasn’t heard much conversation about the Abolish Greek Life movement within his fraternity, though the group is considering how to be welcoming.

He said leadership emphasized developing connections with potential members during the application phase this fall. Rush included a “Vibe Check Night”: a three-hour event where current members assessed how recruits would fit in with the group through conversations.

Like Alpha Kappa Psi, Yu said Delta Sigma Pi has made a strong effort to eliminate financial barriers to joining.

“I don’t think financial accessibility has ever been an issue for anyone in (Delta Sigma Pi),” Yu said. “They go out of their way to help you pay.”

Weinberg sophomore Urja Patel, who is a member of NU’s chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity, said Phi Delta Epsilon spoke to members about how their group is separate from PHA and IFC and therefore unaffected by calls to abolish Greek life. Patel said the fraternity hasn’t made any changes to its operation this year. 

Patel said she has had many positive experiences with the fraternity. As a premedical student, she said she has learned about different medical specialties from guest speakers, participated in mock interviews and attended study sessions with Phi Delta Epsilon. 

Still, she said, “there’s always a miniscule form of elitism in any club with a selection process, whether or not they are pre-professional fraternities.”  

Chao said he joined Alpha Kappa Psi because he heard it was one of the best ways to establish connections and find a job down the road.

He said he finds the use of Greek letters “archaic,” and doesn’t think his fraternity experience bears much resemblance to those affiliated with IFC.

“(Alpha Kappa) Psi’s focus is educational and professional focused,” Chao said. “The balance of a co-ed fraternity really helps make it a safer environment and a better place to be. It’s a different atmosphere when people of all identities are deciding what’s happening.” 

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