The History of Greek Life

Greek life pinIt’s that time again for many young adults: the return to college.  They are rolling out of bed and heading to 8am chemistry, throwing the baseball on the quad, and spending nights balancing a delicate ratio of work and play. Yet you already knew that and may even remember it from your own experience. But what about the Greek life? The groups of students who live together, share in the same motto and friendship, and wear Greek pins denoting to which fraternity or sorority they belong. Have you ever wondered how they came to be? If you weren’t part of Greek life (and even if you were) and you don’t know about it, we will give you a crash course on its history!

The Fraternity – A Revolutionary Idea

Last week we took you back to Harvard to learn about the Letterman Jacket.  Now we will bring you to the second oldest school in the US, the College of William and Mary, back in 1776 to discuss the history of fraternities. During the time of the Revolutionary War, young men would gather together in secret to discuss academic topics as well as those about taxation and freedom. This group’s, known as Phi Beta Kappa’s, clandestine meetings happened regularly spreading chapters to Yale and Harvard. Even after the war’s end, Greek life was being established in America’s collegiate system. The fighting was over, but the fraternities had just begun. 

The Growth and Focus of Fraternities

Phi Beta Kappa rose to status of most prestigious college society while the concept of fraternities spread over the United States. Young adults found solidarity and respect in these groups. They were freer to talk about their desires, dreams (both academic and personal), and contentious topics. Fraternities were not only scholarly groups. They became ways for students to grow morally and idealistically and to defend what they felt to be worthwhile. A famous instance of a fraternity standing up for its beliefs is the Great Snowball Rebellion. They proved that fraternities were respectable institutions and should be spread. They continued to grow west while women were starting their own fraternities. People started calling them sororities after Gamma Phi Beta referred to itself as one due to a Latin professor finding name more accurate.

Fraternities and Sororities Today

Greek life today still holds true to its profound roots, fostering growth within members on a personal and societal basis. Members join together to help one another academically on class projects as well as for any personal needs a brother or sister might have. There is a strong community focus in Greek life with members performing service both on campus and in the neighboring areas. They are well established institutions that help students grow academically, communally, and individually, and they are here to stay.

There’s a little bit of information on Greek life. If you were in a fraternity/sorority, what was your motto or finest moment? If you or any students are interested in lapel pins or Greek fraternity or sorority buttons for your house, please contact us at PinProsPlus!