UNA Greek numbers above average

Recent institutional research at UNA suggested that students involved in Greek life make up 9 percent of the undergraduate population. However, according to DeAnte’ Smith, UNA’s assistant director of student engagement for Greek affairs, this number now averages out to approximately 13 percent.

“We have 648 Greek students here,” Smith said. “We are not including part-time (in the percentage) because part-time includes faculty and staff as well. It’s always been around about 10 percent, so it definitely has increased in the last year and a half.”

Smith said the research team pulled the numbers in for Greek life before rush had finished for sororities and fraternities, meaning that more accurate projections will appear in the next semester summary. He said the increase in Greek enrollment is due to new leadership in various chapters, as well as growth in the student population.

“They are making sure that their organizations are successful as far as membership and grades,” Smith said. “A lot of the chapters also have new advisers here that are probably placing higher expectations on the chapter. There’s also a larger group of people to pull from now.”

Smith said this increase places UNA’s Greek population in the slightly above-average range when compared to the numbers at universities of a similar size. The University of West Georgia, for example, has a Greek population that averages to about 10 percent of the student population, according to their website.

“We are either average or ahead,” Smith said. “It’s a challenge to increase the (enrollment) numbers every year, but we’ve been increasing them by 1 to 1.5 percent every year for the past few years. That’s our goal.”

UNA Greek student Chase Wise said he wasn’t surprised by the enrollment numbers, although it’s hard to compare UNA’s Greek population to other schools.

“I don’t know much about West Georgia’s numbers, but I know that (the University of) Alabama has many more people who are well-off economically,” Wise said. “Most of our Greek life students work to pay for Greek life.”

The University of Alabama has 56 fraternities and sororities, with Greek students numbering near UNA’s entire student population, according to UA’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.

Wise said Greek life participation  fluctuates for a variety of reasons.

“It’s just like any other organization,” Wise said. “It’s not for everyone. We have a lot of commuting students that go home every weekend, and Greek life is a full-time organization.”

Caitlin Calhoun, a student involved in Greek life at UNA, said she commuted to the campus during her first semester of school, making it difficult to get involved.

“I ended up moving to campus my second semester so that I could do more of the things that I wanted to,” she said. “While I absolutely love being in a sorority, and I wouldn’t trade my sisters for the world, people don’t have to go Greek to have fun in college.”

Calhoun said that with  student enrollment increasing, RSOs will grow.

“There are all kinds of organizations that people can get involved in where they can meet people and find their perfect fit in the university,” Calhoun said. “As more people come in, they will be looking for a place to call home for their college career, and that is exactly what being Greek is all about. It’s finding a place where you can always count on someone, no matter what.”