WOU looking to ‘go Greek’

Polk County Itemizer Observer
Article by Craig Coleman
Photo by Pete Strong

MONMOUTH — When describing Western Oregon University and his experience here during the beginning of his freshman year, Gabriel Jenks said he’s personally found something missing among students.

“School pride,” said Jenks, a Wolves football player. “And it’s not just sports.

“A sense of community,” he continued. “I think in some ways, there are a lot of people who come to WOU to get their education and quickly move on … there’s not really a sense of belonging.”

go greek
Adriana Carrillo-Garcia, Gabriel Jenks and Reinaldo Ayala are spearheading the creation of the first social fraternities and sororities in WOU’s history.

Jenks said his older brother’s experience as a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at Oregon State University had always been something he wanted here in Monmouth.

That opportunity hasn’t existed at WOU. At least not until 2011.

Jenks, along with classmates Adriana Carrillo-Garcia and Reinaldo Ayala, have spent the past few months spearheading the creation of the first social fraternities and sorority in Western’s history.

The three are in varying stages of starting chapters of national Greek organizations — Lambda Chi Alpha (Jenks), Kappa Delta Chi (Carrillo-Garcia) and Omega Delta Phi (Ayala).

Carrillo-Garcia said friends of hers at OSU, which has Oregon’s largest Greek system, got her involved in initiating something at WOU.

“I like the idea of the sisterhood, meeting new people, traveling with them,” she said. “It’s about the connection you get with people.”

Jon Tucker, director of Student Leadership and Activities at WOU, said over the years there have been both casual inquiries about fraternities or sororities or statements about Western being better off without them.

But there’s never been a demand from students — or a school stance against them, he said.

“Our standpoint is like they’re any other group,” Tucker said. “We’ll work to support what students want.”

The three students separately approached administrators this summer. How the groups will be affiliated with the university and establishing a governing group are some of the issues Western is now researching.

The hope is a policy regarding Greek organizations could be put into place within the next six months. Oversight would be done under the school’s student leadership department, he continued.

Colonization involves several phases, beginning with an interest group and ending with a formal charter. The process at WOU will likely take one or two years, Tucker said.

“We think we will end up having a handful of fraternities and sororities after these are up and running,” Tucker said. “It’s exciting. As WOU grows, as more students come here, this is a natural progression.”

The students, meanwhile, will work directly with national leadership of their respective organizations, recruiting members, fundraising and developing guidelines.

Ayala, a freshman from Woodburn, said he and nine others have already been recognized as an official club at WOU, working toward a charter.

Before coming to WOU, Ayala said he wouldn’t have been interested in fraternities.

“What I knew about them was from movies or the media, the partying and negative things,” he said. “But I was ill informed.”

Ayala has received help with his effort from OSU’s Omega Delta Phi chapter, a multicultural fraternity.

“They focus on leadership, community service, academics … I like what they do.”

7 comments on “WOU looking to ‘go Greek’”

  1. How can we get updates on the Greek system?
    How can students get involved? This is the first time I have heard of it and I would love to get involved.

    Abby

  2. I believe that it is unnecesary for WOU to adopt a fraternity system. WOU has an amazing sense of community thanks to its many community programs and clubs. This is my second year at WOU and I think of it as my second home. In my opinion, fraternity and soroities will not help to improve the already amazing sense of community that is present at WOU.

  3. Thanks, Abby, Teresa and Spencer, for your comments. It’s very helpful to hear from students and I’ve passed your thoughts along to the folks in Student Leadership and Activities, who oversee the creation and maintenance of student organizations.

    Spencer, I’m glad you’re enjoying WOU so far 🙂

    Teresa, thanks for your comment!

    Abby – I suggest you talk to Jon Tucker, director of Werner University Center and Student Leadership & Activities (503-838-8063 or tuckerj@wou.edu) or Megan Habermann, assistant director of Student Leadership & Activities.

    ~Lisa

  4. As students move forward with the process, WOU is working to make sure that the structure in place is right for WOU. Western doesn’t want the “Animal House” atmosphere created because that doesn’t fit our feel. Our efforts will focus on how these new groups will contribute and add to our community and not detract from it. We appreciate any an all feedback!
    Jon

  5. Not that this has any bearing whatsoever on the current efforts, but Greek organizations with a social focus *have* made appearances on this campus. Omicron Pi Omega was a “social organization for mature women students,
    most of whom are experienced teachers.” This group appears in the 1940-41, and the 1948 yearbooks. Delta Pi Omega was the “first off-campus social fraternity, [ ] organized during the winter quarter [1940] with purpose of organizing a group of students for a future Co-op house.” It seemed to die on the vine because of war enlistments or other reasons. Theta Delta Phi, “a national men’s fraternity,” was on campus in the 1950’s. There were many others, some with a more scholastic or service bent to their mission, some discipline-focused honoraries that required a certain GPA. (But all had a social component even if it was a secondary aspect.) See our College Yearbooks at
    http://digitalcommons.wou.edu/yearbooks
    Have fun!
    Janeanne

  6. I have to say that when I heard rumors that Western Oregon was looking into Fraternities and Sororities it made me SOOOO happy!!! Joining a sorority was high on my list of college to-do’s and I was disapointed when I learned WOU didn’t have any! I absolutely believe that Greek Life improves and increases school unity, school spirit, and campus atmosphere. Fraternities and Sororities force students to make new friends and mingle with people that they might not have if they weren’t apart of the system. I know I don’t speak for everyone but I speak for many. I would join a sorority in a heartbeat and I know a lot of people who would join if they were simply given the chance! WOU SHOULD HAVE A GREEK LIFE!
    I hope this gives a different view on the subject. If anything progresses I would love to be involved and give my support!

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