Greek Life: then & now

Campus Greeks plan to improve reputation, gain recognition

Campus Greeks plan to improve reputation, gain recognition

Alexandra Nicolas

Since the creation of Joplin Junior College in 1937, Missouri Southern has become the home of five Greek organizations and the students who pledge their allegiance to them.

Kappa Alpha, Kappa Sigma, Sigma Pi, Alpha Sigma Alpha and Zeta Tau Alpha all hold their members to unique standards and seek to improve the lives of their members and of those around them despite the less-than-favorable reputations of Greek organizations.

“Missouri Southern’s always been a hard nut to crack,” said Bob Kelly, Kappa Alpha Alumnus.

Kelly said the reputation is largely due to unmotivated students attending college to avoid the Vietnam War, who then joined fraternities.

“That’s when you started to get the image of the animal house,” he said. “The chapter went down and we’ve been fighting it ever since.”

Four of Southern’s five Greek organizations have received their official charters.

Kappa Sigma is currently in the process of chartering its group.

The Delta Pi chapter of Kappa Alpha is Southern’s oldest active fraternity receiving its official charter in 1971. The Kappa Alpha order also prides itself on acting with chivalry.

“You can count on most KAs to behave in a gentlemanly fashion,” said Dr. John Knapp, professor of geophysics.

The Kappa Alpha Order began as Pi Beta Lambda, later converting after failing to receive national recognition. The chapter voluntarily surrendered its charter in the early 1980s due to insufficient numbers, and was re-chartered in the early 1990s.

Though Southern’s Greek organizations make social service a high priority, one of the primary benefits of Greek life is the social camaraderie. The Eta Mu chapter of Sigma Pi began when student Jim Portell saw a need for a greater social network in 1988. The organization received its official charter in 1990. Both organizations have remained active on a somewhat non-traditional campus, working together to “strive for greatness.”

Both of Southern’s sororities also have an active presence on campus with their distinctive icons.

Southern’s chapter of Alpha Sigma Alpha, formerly Lambda Beta Phi, is one of 75 national chapters that support the Special Olympics and the S. June Smith Center.

The Alpha Sigma Alpha’s actively volunteer at Children’s Haven and for the Adopt a Highway program.

Zeta Tau Alpha also involved its group with community participation in the Relay for Life and the Adopt a Highway program. On a national level, the 155,000 members of ZTA participate in supporting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

However, not all Greek organizations to come to Southern have met with success. Delta Gamma sorority left campus due to its inability to establish housing on campus as stipulated in their national regulations. Sigma Nu, formerly Mu Sigma Gamma, also left campus in the early 1990s due to insufficient numbers.

Even with the current history of Greek participation, students are striving to bring more Greek life to Southern.

“At Arkansas, they had 70 people in their pledge class, that’s not even the whole chapter. It’s just the pledge class,” said Becky Beasley, freshman French major and historian for ZTA, “If we could get more Greeks on campus we could make some serious change happen.”

Greek representatives also met with the Alumni Association in the association’s attempt to create a more “traditional atmosphere,” on campus.

“I certainly would like for those organizations and groups to work more closely with the Alumni Association, there’s no question about it,” said University President Julio León.

Students are also organizing to hopefully establish a traditional African-American Greek organization on campus. For more information on Greek life, please contact Tori Christiansen at 625-9320.