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  #1  
Old 10-14-2009, 03:08 PM
DannyM DannyM is offline
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Minimum campus enrollment?

I have a son who's starting to look around at colleges, and he's somewhat interested in one school (I won't say which, at least not right away) that has some numbers that are alarming to me. I was Greek in college, but the school I was at was somewhat larger than this one. Most people would have still considered it a small school. And the presence of a Greek system, in my opinion, had some unhealthy effects; it really tended to overwhelm just about every other aspect of campus social life, isolated Greeks from non-Greeks and vice versa, and pervaded most aspects of personal relationships. That's not to say that the Greek system there didn't have its strong points; it did. But I can easily imagine that a school that's even smaller might be plagued by these problems to an even greater degree, so naturally I'm a little concerned about my son's possible choice of school (it's nowhere near certain).

So, I'd like to get some opinions on this. What do you think is the smallest enrollment a college can have and still have a healthy Greek system -- and by "healthy" I mean for both Greeks and non-Greeks? I'm particularly interested in the opinions of those who have had a few years to put their college experience in perspective, but welcome all responses.

Also, I've looked around the Internet trying to find some opinions from national Greek organizations regarding this issue but haven't seen any. Have any of those organizations developed any opinions about this and stated them publicly?

Thanks,

Danny Martinez
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  #2  
Old 10-14-2009, 03:59 PM
Gusteau Gusteau is offline
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I think it would be more helpful for you to look at the percentage of students involved in Greek Life. A school could have an enrollment of 30,000 but have only 15% of the students involved in Greek Life. On the other hand, a school could have an enrollment of 9,000 with 75% of students involved in Greek Life. The difference is more dependent on the campus culture than the enrollment.

I think the health of a Greek system depends on a lot of university factors that go beyond the numbers of an institution. It might be beneficial for you to search GreekChat for this university to find more information about the system at this particular campus.
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  #3  
Old 10-14-2009, 05:50 PM
agzg agzg is offline
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I went to a school with 3,800 students and about 350 of them were greek.

We were a pretty healthy (and small) greek system, I think, and I'm pretty sure that all campuses, no matter the size, are "plagued" by these types of problems to some degree.
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  #4  
Old 10-14-2009, 05:52 PM
Psi U MC Vito Psi U MC Vito is offline
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Yeah and it depends on the campus. I went to visit a chapter at a school that was demographically very similar to mine, but the two greek systems couldn't be any different.
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  #5  
Old 10-14-2009, 10:49 PM
33girl 33girl is offline
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Also, there are schools where even if there is a large percentage of Greeks, the environment is much more laid back than at a more "rah rah" (for lack of a better word) school. Really, it all depends on the campus and I don't think NPC or NIC would ever say "this school is too small to have Greeks."

Try looking at some of the school ranking sites and see what people say about the Greek system. If there are many strong opinions about it, pro and con, it's probably a pretty prevalent presence...if no one really talks about it, it's unlikely that Greeks "run" the campus. But there are always going to be people, even at schools with the weakest of Greek systems, who criticize Greeks for running things and being snobby. You can't win with haters like that.
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  #6  
Old 10-15-2009, 02:25 AM
navane navane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannyM View Post
But I can easily imagine that a school that's even smaller might be plagued by these problems to an even greater degree, so naturally I'm a little concerned about my son's possible choice of school (it's nowhere near certain).
Some of the others here have given you some good insights about how to get a good perspective on Greek life at various colleges. Don't forget, too, that one of the most important factors when picking a college is the quality of the academics and related educational opportunities.

.....Kelly
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  #7  
Old 10-15-2009, 03:56 PM
DannyM DannyM is offline
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The college he's looking at is about 1,700 students, with about 50% Greek.

> On the other hand, a school could have an enrollment of 9,000 with 75% of students involved in Greek Life.

I appreciate and agree with your main point -- every situation is different and has to be judged on its own merits -- but I've gotta say, there are limits. I hope I'm not insulting your alma mater, but that would be an automatic "F" in my book. I've never been involved in college administration but have spent some time on the other side of the lectern as an instructor, have observed some things from that perspective, and have discussed some of these issues with other teachers. That seventy-five percent number tells me that (a) the school is making no effort to facilitate other avenues for student social life; (b) there's far too much unhealthy peer pressure going on among the students (and perhaps being tacitly endorsed by the faculty and administration); and/or (c) the school's student body is unacceptably homogeneous.

As for fifty percent, that may not be enough in my mind for an "F," but it does raise some red flags. The 1700 number doesn't make me feel any better. I can't help but wonder if the non-Greeks have enough of a critical mass to form any sort of alternative to the Greek system, and if so, would the school even have the latent ability to support such alternatives. At least with a size of 9000, the 2000+ non-Greeks in the hypothetical could take advantage of the infrastructure and resources of a small university. With <2000 total enrollment, the "Monty Python Society" may have no other option than to hold its meetings in someone's dorm room.

Well, those are generalities; you're right, what I really need are specifics about this situation.

> Try looking at some of the school ranking sites and see what people say about the Greek system. If there are many strong opinions about it, pro and con, it's probably a pretty prevalent presence

Great idea; I'm an old fart and sometimes don't think of going to the Internet first for information. I'll take a lot at some of those things, as well as try to track down some recent alums and whatever else I can find.

> Don't forget, too, that one of the most important factors when picking a college is the quality of the academics and related educational opportunities.

Well, it's a good school, but so are a lot of others.

Thanks for your comments!

DM
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  #8  
Old 10-15-2009, 04:19 PM
33girl 33girl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannyM View Post
The college he's looking at is about 1,700 students, with about 50% Greek.

> On the other hand, a school could have an enrollment of 9,000 with 75% of students involved in Greek Life.

I appreciate and agree with your main point -- every situation is different and has to be judged on its own merits -- but I've gotta say, there are limits. I hope I'm not insulting your alma mater, but that would be an automatic "F" in my book. I've never been involved in college administration but have spent some time on the other side of the lectern as an instructor, have observed some things from that perspective, and have discussed some of these issues with other teachers. That seventy-five percent number tells me that (a) the school is making no effort to facilitate other avenues for student social life; (b) there's far too much unhealthy peer pressure going on among the students (and perhaps being tacitly endorsed by the faculty and administration); and/or (c) the school's student body is unacceptably homogeneous.
For a former fraternity member, you're assuming a hell of a lot of negative things about schools with high percentages of Greek life.

Why would a high Greek percentage automatically mean a homogenous student body? Greeks at my alma mater were rich, poor, black, white, from the city, from the country, gorgeous, not so gorgeous. Your assuming that every Greek on a campus is from the same type of group is ludicrous. At a school with 75% Greek involvement, it's probably even MORE ludicrous.

It's possible that the school provides oodles of other opportunities. It's also possible that, compared to Greek life, they just don't measure up. That's called a free market. If anything, schools these days seem to be busting their balls trying to invent "theme houses" and weak substitutes for Greek life. My perception is that the students see these for what they are - the college trying to exert more control over young adults' social life than they should - and reject them in favor of something better when it's offered.

As for peer pressure, like I stated, it may just be that at a certain point in your college career, you go Greek. If you saw statistics that said 75% of students moved off campus their sophomore year, would you automatically assume "peer pressure" was making them do so? Or would you think that maybe, just maybe, the students didn't like either the rules and restrictions or the physical dorms themselves and were smart enough to look elsewhere? Again, that's a free market.

Let your child make his own decision and quit worrying about problems that may not even exist. This post really rubbed me the wrong way.
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  #9  
Old 10-15-2009, 04:27 PM
MaggieXi MaggieXi is offline
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  #10  
Old 10-15-2009, 05:02 PM
DannyM DannyM is offline
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> This post really rubbed me the wrong way.

That's unfortunate, but I stand by every word I said.

> For a former fraternity member, you're assuming a hell of a lot of negative things about schools with high percentages of Greek life.

No, I'm being realistic. Former fraternity member does not mean "blindly enthusiastic." I've seen the Greek system up close from four different perspectives; as an undergrad, a grad student, then as an instructor at two other schools. I was Greek as an undergrad, enjoyed it, and on the whole I consider it a positive experience. But certainly not a perfect one, and I'm under no illusions. Greek societies do have a down side -- period. My personal observations and my conversations with other education professionals have convinced me that when the percentage of students who are Greek reaches that sort of level, certain negative aspects of Greek life are not only unchecked but are magnified, to the detriment of Greeks and non-Greeks.

> If you saw statistics that said 75% of students moved off campus their sophomore year, would you automatically assume "peer pressure" was making them do so?

No, but I would assume that for whatever reason, campus housing was so inadequate compared to off-campus housing that it simply wasn't a viable alternative for most students. Similarly, if I saw that 75% of students were Greek, I would assume that for whatever reason, non-Greek social life was so inadequate on that campus that for most students, it simply wasn't a viable alternative. Certain numbers naturally lead to their own inferences.

> Why would a high Greek percentage automatically mean a homogenous student body? Greeks at my alma mater were rich, poor, black, white, from the city, from the country, gorgeous, not so gorgeous. Your assuming that every Greek on a campus is from the same type of group is ludicrous.

It wouldn't automatically mean that. But I guess you didn't notice the "and/or" before "(c)." Next time, please read more carefully before you reach for the flamethrower.

> Let your child make his own decision and quit worrying about problems that may not even exist.

When did I ever say he wouldn't make his own decision? Talk about making assumptions!

DM
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  #11  
Old 10-15-2009, 05:18 PM
LaneSig LaneSig is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannyM View Post
No, but I would assume that for whatever reason, campus housing was so inadequate compared to off-campus housing that it simply wasn't a viable alternative for most students. Similarly, if I saw that 75% of students were Greek, I would assume that for whatever reason, non-Greek social life was so inadequate on that campus that for most students, it simply wasn't a viable alternative. Certain numbers naturally lead to their own inferences.

DM
I don't look at a large Greek percentage and say,"Wow, there is a lot of pressure to join a GLO." I look at a large number and say, "Wow, the Greeks must be doing something right that so many people see it as a good thing and want to join."

If there isn't a viable non-Greek social life, then that's the non-Greek students' fault. They can start clubs in their majors or interests and get the word out that they are available.
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  #12  
Old 10-15-2009, 06:00 PM
Zillini Zillini is offline
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OP, I guess I'm still not getting why you're so hung up on percentages or campus size. I also think you're buying into the negative stereotypes that so many of us are trying to fight. Even in a Greek system that has "some unhealthy effects" (your words), that doesn't mean that every Chapter has that or every member suffers from that. Every campus is different, every Chapter is different, and every member is different. Besides, "unhealthy effects" can come from non-Greek groups as well.

P.S. Dad, if you raised your son well as a strong individual with solid morals and values he won't succumb to the "unhealthy effects" of others.
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  #13  
Old 10-15-2009, 07:46 PM
ASTalumna06 ASTalumna06 is offline
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I think the OP is also making the assumption (maybe unintentionally) that Greek = only Greek. Many times, Greeks are involved in other campus activities/athletics/clubs/organizations as well. So while 75% of the campus is a member of a GLO, a very large number of that 75% could be accounting for huge chunks of membership in other clubs and organizations.
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  #14  
Old 10-15-2009, 09:15 PM
agzg agzg is offline
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I don't know where you taught but on my campus the Greeks were looked on pretty favorably by faculty and instructors. Of course, we were often the ones that did all the homework, readings, and actively participated in class discussions. Of course, that could have been just the crowd I ran in but I don't recall any grumblings by professors about Greeks and I had more than ample opportunity to hear it with all the other clubs and organizations I was a member in.
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  #15  
Old 10-15-2009, 09:39 PM
Barbie's_Rush Barbie's_Rush is offline
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I call troll. No man, particularly a fraternity man, is going to be worried about this when it comes to a son.
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