Emory's Greek community grows with new, returning chapters

By John Baker Brown, Emory Campus Life | Emory Report | March 1, 2017

Story image

At a Wonderful Wednesday gathering, members of the Emory’s newest fraternity, Lambda Sigma Upsilon, passed out horchata and accepted donations for El Refugio, a volunteer group serving detained immigrants and their families and friends. Participants included (clockwise from top left) Harpreet Singh, Ovidio Vasquez, Joel Ramirez and Jovanny Aguilar.

Emory's Greek community has welcomed two new chapters in the last year, including the university's first Latino fraternity. Five more Greek organizations are scheduled to return by 2019, setting a record for sororities and fraternities on campus.

The growth in Greek chapters, combined with strong academic and philanthropic efforts from existing sororities and fraternities, means the next few years are shaping up to be an exciting and productive time for Emory’s Greek community, according to Marlon Gibson, assistant dean of Campus Life and director of Sorority and Fraternity Life.

“We are delighted to welcome two Greek organizations new to our university community and greet five others returning to campus between this academic year and spring 2019,” Gibson says. “With these new and returning chapters, we will have a record 35 sororities and fraternities at Emory.”

New chapters bring history, diversity

Lambda Sigma Upsilon became Emory’s first Latino fraternity and a member of the Multicultural Greek Council in fall 2016.

The organization was established in 1979 at Rutgers University to “meet the needs of the Latino student population on campus, help students achieve their goals and provide a sense of family to those away from home.” The fraternity now includes more than 70 chapters nationwide.

“Some of my friends, now brothers of mine, decided that we wanted to bring a Latino-based fraternity to Emory's campus because there was a need for this kind of organization,” says Joel Ramirez, a sophomore economics major and the Himalayas Chapter president.

Lambda Sigma Upsilon was founded on the idea that united voices can make a difference, according to Ramirez, and has a history of fighting for equality, educating minority communities and promoting academic excellence among minority youth. Although it is Latino based, the fraternity welcomes members from many backgrounds.

“Our goal is to improve minority communities and be of service to the underrepresented,” Ramirez says. He adds that his chapter looks forward to working with Greek and other campus organizations to serve the community, especially supporting AIDS research and awareness, a commitment shared with the chapter’s national organization.

Pi Beta Phi, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, was founded in 1867 at Monmouth College as a “fraternity for Women,” more than a decade before the term “sorority” was coined. According to its national website, Pi Beta Phi was “the first secret society for women patterned after men’s groups at a time when only five state universities admitted women.”

In spring 2016, the Georgia Beta Chapter became the national organization’s 139th active chapter and the newest member of Emory’s Panhellenic Council.

According to an April 20 press release issued by the Pi Beta Phi national office, members of the new chapter were “eager to begin their legacy on the Emory campus.” During the semester, they “hosted Lollipops for Literacy for Fraternity Day of Service, formed a team for Relay for Life, raised money for Emory Miracle (dance marathon) and participated in a 5K fundraiser hosted by Sigma Phi Epsilon.”

Two returning fraternities with historic Emory ties are also looking forward to major anniversaries. In 2018 and 2019, Kappa Alpha Order and Chi Phi, respectively, will celebrate 150 years since their chapters were established on the Oxford College campus.

Greek community 'on a roll'

Clearly, the Greek community at Emory — which includes about 30 percent of the student body — is growing. While establishing new chapters and welcoming back others, Emory’s Greek sisters and brothers last fall earned an average GPA of nearly 3.5.

Sorority and fraternity members also still find time to contribute to the university community and the larger society. Last year, Greek chapters at Emory donated more than $75,000 to philanthropies and gave over 25,000 hours to community service.

Sororities and fraternities are “on a roll,” according to Gibson, who sees myriad opportunities for continued growth and reimagination of Greek life as an essential element of the Emory experience.

“Emory University is committed to enhancing sisterhood and brotherhood among all our Greek organizations and strengthening their connections throughout the university,” says Gibson. “Our goal is to ensure that sorority and fraternity life continues to thrive on Emory’s campus.”

For more information on Greek life at Emory, visit the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life website