Sororities and fraternities are still very much alive at the University of Montana despite the University’s struggles with dropping enrollment. But even the Greek system has been impacted by falling numbers.
In the last year, the number of undergraduate students at UM has dropped by about 15 percent, losing more than 300 female students and just under 300 male students. Roughly 7 percent of undergrad students at UM are involved in Greek life. Between spring 2017 and 2018, the total number of Greek life members decreased by 61.
UM has four sororities and five fraternities. Delta Gamma, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Alpha Phi are the four sororities, the largest being Kappa Alpha Theta with 69 members. Fraterneties include Kappa Sigma, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Nu, Sigma Chi, and Phi Delta Theta. The largest house is Kappa Sigma with 42 members.
Director of Fraternity and Sorority Involvement Lacey Zinke, 26, graduated from UM in 2014 with a degree in Community Health and is a former Delta Gamma. This year, Greek life had lower recruitment numbers for women in particular, said Zinke.
Since spring of 2016, overall member numbers are lower for each sorority except Kappa Kappa Gamma. Alpha Phi and Delta Gamma numbers dropped by 13 members and Kappa Alpha Theta and Kappa Kappa Gamma numbers dropped by 7 members. However, Kappa Kappa Gamma had its lowest number of members in the spring of 2016 with 50.
Overall numbers in fraternities are lowest for Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Nu with 20 and 25. Kappa Sigma is at its most members since spring 2016 with 42.
“Many factors contribute to the number of students that sign up for recruitment. Just like most things, our numbers fluctuate,” said Zinke. “Orientations are at different times and general interest in Greek life changes from year to year.”
But Zinke assured that despite dropping enrollment, Greek life is still important to students at UM.
“We’re the biggest club on campus,” Zinke said. “Once you’re Greek, you are going to do everything in your power to keep your organization.”
Despite what people may assume based on stereotypes and portrayals in films like “Animal House” and “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder,” Zinke believes Greek life can be a very enriching experience. While it is a relatively small slice of campus life, she doesn’t see Greek life going away anytime soon. The benefits are just too important.
“Being a sorority woman impacts more than your four years in college. While in school, I was given unique leadership experiences, a support system and many opportunities to give back to the Missoula community. You get out of it what you put into it.”