The Possibility of Renewed Greek Life At VU 

A look at the history and possible future of Greek life on campus


photo by Josie Kidder

A clock tower dedicated by the Sigma Pi Fraternity still stands on campus, though the organization is no longer active at VU.

Josie Kidder, Editor

Many colleges and universities  are mostly known for their academics or athletic teams, while others are known for their massive engagement with social aspects of Greek life on campus. 

Greek life, also known as fraternities for men and sororities for women, are usually seen at four-year universities and can rarely be seen at two-year universities.

Whether it’s on a college sitcom on the TV screen or just friends talking about the excitement of starting a new journey into college, Greek life has always been a topic of conversation among students. 

So why is there no active Greek life  currently at Vincennes University?

The fraternity Sigma Pi actually got its start on the VU campus many years ago.

Sigma Pi was founded on February 26, 1897. Sigma Pi’s original name was Tau Phi Delta and according to their website, “Tau Phi Delta possessed the characteristics of a fraternity chapter.  It was strictly secret and possessed a password and a grip and included an initiation ritual. Its badge was a simple black shield, with a border of gold, upon which were displayed the Greek letters ΤΦΔ.” In the winter of 1903, the fraternity rented a small building on UVU campus establishing it as their chapter house. They officially changed their name to Sigma Pi in 1907. 

In 1984, Sigma Pi legally became Sigma Pi Fraternity International.

According to Brad Ferguson, who is on the board of the Sigma Pi Organization, the national fraternity withdrew its affiliation with the university in 2007. 

“I was president when we disaffiliated with Vincennes University. Vincennes University is a two-year school; we are the only national fraternity on a junior college campus because we were founded at Vincennes,” he said.

Ferguson said that around 2007, Sigma Pi withdrew their affiliation from VU because of their differences in the recruitment process.

He added that it was a mutual decision to disaffiliate, and that Sigma Pi  has nothing but respect for VU. Any male on or off VU campus can still join the Sigma Pi Fraternity even though it is no longer affiliated with the campus.

Ferguson said there were three sororities on the VU campus when he was president of the fraternity and said that the Panhellenic guidelines state that sororities are not allowed on two-year campuses.

Although VU doesn’t have any social Greek life on campus, the university does have academic service clubs with Greek letters. One service club at VU is Eta Sigma Iota; it’s an organization on campus for homeland security and public safety majors.

VU President Charles “Chuck” Johnson sat down with The Trailblazer to talk about the possibility of renewing Greek life on campus. His main mission is to oversee the university and promote student success and safety, he said.

“Historically, Greek life has been a part of four-year universities. Although we have relatively new four-year bachelor’s degree programs, VU is still predominantly a two-year school. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t academic or honorary organizations that have Greek letters. I think the number of clubs that we have already could expand with student interest. We certainly want to make sure all students who come to VU have an outlet on campus to get engaged and develop life-long friendships and develop opportunities that will take them to their future goals,” Johnson said.

As it stands now, Greek life isn’t a part of VU because of a few key concerns about Greek life’s ability to sustain itself, and the aspects of Greek life that need to be thoroughly addressed, Johnson said.

“Never say never, I think there would be some issues that would have to be addressed, like how the organizations are structured, whether they have a national affiliation, what’s been the history of the organization in terms of precedents elsewhere. The biggest obstacle would be because of the turnover of our student population. We can’t grow the senior leadership that’s usually recognized in fraternities and sororities that will help the organizations to manage themselves, their activities, their funds, and everything else. That senior leadership potential would be a difficult thing for VU to be able to pull off,” Johnson said. 

He added, “My understanding is that most institutions, if not all institutions, are externally funded; they provide their own funding. Whether it’s for the house, for the upkeep of the house, those are typically not funded by the university, so they would probably need to start their group externally and then add the institution for recognition. They need to show that they are self-sustaining and then petition the university for recognition through the Dean of Students office, which will then most likely go through different levels of review and approval.

“I think the conversations around Greek life are a mixed discussion. There are many positive social aspects of Greek life but there are also many discussions that have arisen about hazing, underage drinking in Greek life establishments…I see some of the benefits and also some of the risks of Greek life. I also think that many benefits can stand out through students and clubs. The main goal is creating relationships with fellow students, giving them opportunities to take on some leadership roles, and help make the university more vibrant,” he added.

With the necessary precautions and the critical devotion needed to run an efficient and self-sustaining institution, VU could potentially see the spark of social Greek life reignited here on campus.