Frats and sororities diminishing at UVM

The University of Vermont’s Greek organizations have, over the last few decades, seen a major decline in interest among students. “I don’t like the stereotypical guy that is usually in a frat and I don’t like the traditions of the frats… and that it does not fit in with my lifestyle or what seems to be the lifestyle at UVM,” freshmen Aaron Bernstein said.Bernstein’s opinion is reflective of what appears to be one segment of the UVM community. “I think that is shot down here. Fraternity men are TA’s. There are those guys that have their collars popped and they love that. We’re here and were involved on campus. A lot of guys are passionate about so many things,” Andy Jones, President of the Inter-Fraternity Council said. Lambda Iota was the first Greek Society to be included in the UVM community, with their conception in the later 1800’s. By the time period of 1945-1965, according to a May 1983 Student Activities Council of the Board of Trustees, Greek life at UVM had reached its heyday. Fraternities and Sororities were able to attractive large amounts of students to their lifestyle and in 1951, according to the yearbook, 27 percent of the students were involved in Greek life.Some of the most impressive, in terms of interest, years for Greek societies were the early 1950’s. Fraternity Kappa Sigma, according to the 1950 yearbook, had 93 brothers that year. However, this attraction to Greek life would not always remain. Numbers at Kappa Sigma, according to the yearbook, dropped to 44 by 1955.Greek life reached rock bottom in 1975 when Kappa Sigma only had seven brothers. This is an 86 person drop from their peak of brotherhood in 1950. The rest of Greek life was in despair also. According to a 1983 report to the Board of Trustees, Greek life reached a low of five percent. “The two principle reasons the Greek membership numbers have declined since the early 1980’s are behavior and interest. Some of the chapters that are no longer here left due to inappropriate behavior from members of the organization” Pat Brown, director of student life said.However, due to an increased effort by the University, Greek life increased noticeably throughout the 1980’s. In a 1985 statement of relations, the University stated that, “The University reaffirms its commitment to a strong and viable Greek option for its students.”The affects of the University’s renewed interest in Greek life was noticeable in the numbers. According to Pat Brown, by 1979 Greek membership accounted for 14 percent of the student population, and in a 1983 report to the Board of Trustees Greek life in 1982 represented 15 percent of the University population.However, this increase would soon reach problems, and as Brown mentioned, inappropriate behavior has caused a decline in the Greek population at UVM. The current Greek population at the University can, according to Brown, be marked at around 7 to 8 percent of the student population. The numbers took a significant drop in their populations after a few houses on campus were disbanded for hazing. Another major fiasco for the UVM Greek community came when members of the Sigma Nu fraternity were arrested for theft of property from Yale during a pledge road trip.The decline in Greek life at UVM has not gone unnoticed by the Burlington community and Champlain College. Since 1979, Brown recollects six chapter houses being sold off. “People are dying for the locations. Champlain has offered over $ 2 million dollars for FIJI (Phi Gamma Delta). It’s disheartening. I’d like to see Greek life expand on campus,” Jones said. UVM fraternities occupy spaces on Main Street and College Street, often in large homes making them attractive to Champlain College for potential dorms or office spaces.