The rise of UNI Greek Life

The rise of UNI Greek Life

New fraternity seeks to establish on campus

After two fraternities closed their doors during the University of Northern Iowa 2022-23 school year, a new, up-and-coming fraternity, Chi Phi, is planning to fill the empty space left by those groups.  

Among the recent addition of Chi Phi, UNI’s Greek life has seen recent changes with the closure of two fraternities within the last semester, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Pi Kappa Alpha, due to lack of interest to continue the organizations and/or lack of members. Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) Advisor Josh Farris says despite these closures, quite the opposite is happening with enrollment this year, and having another chapter grants more opportunities for student participation if one group wasn’t the right fit for them. 

“Bringing in a third [chapter], it creates a new opportunity that hasn’t been available for students in a really long time, and it doesn’t necessarily happen very often,” Farris said of the Greek life expansion. “It creates a sense of energy for our community, and for that new specific chapter as well.”

The last time a new Greek chapter was proposed for establishment was 2016. The COVID-19 pandemic and UNI’s downward-trending enrollment rates may have been to blame for low member populations in previous recruitment years. 

I feel super grateful because sometimes you’d be on some campuses and they’re not as receptive as others or some other situations, but being at UNI, it’s just been kind of eye opening. It’s been super receptive from everybody all around.

— Jason Santiago, Chi Phi Coordinator of Growth

“The average chapter size is about 25-26 guys, which is pretty good for institutions our size,” Farris said. “Granted, our number of chapters has decreased – I think right now we are at the pinnacle of the rise of fraternities and sororities at UNI.” 

This year’s totals for sorority and fraternity members have almost doubled in the span of three weeks, according to Farris, who is in his second year as FSL advisor. Currently, UNI has eight active Greek chapters with three fraternities and five sororities. 

“Our sorority recruitment numbers right now are already ahead of where they finished last year, and we’re still two weeks out for sorority recruitment,” he said of the current 68 registered, which is around 20 more than the previous year. “The goal would hopefully be for all of our fraternities and sororities to continue to grow so we can bring even more chapters in the future.”

Jason Santiago, Chi Phi Coordinator of Growth, is grateful to get the Chi Phi chapter up and running on campus and has high hopes for future recruitment. 

“I feel super grateful because sometimes you’d be on some campuses and they’re not as receptive as others or some other situations, but being at UNI, it’s just been kind of eye opening. It’s been super receptive from everybody all around,” Santiago said. “I think if we keep on building on the momentum, we can strive for a lot of cool opportunities and collaborations with other people.” 

The group, whose motto is “Truth, Honor, and Personal Integrity,” will be raising funds for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and has partnered with RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) to raise awareness about these issues on campus and beyond. 

Chi Phi has already had quite the presence during the first two weeks of the year despite being a young group. During UNI’s Welcome Week, the fraternity partnered with the sorority Gamma Phi Beta at Lawther Field for water games and giveaways.

Chi Phi, whose logo is pictured above, currently has a presence at Iowa State University. If established, the UNI chapter will be the second in Iowa. (CHI PHI)

“Hopefully we can get along with some other organizations and see what other opportunities there are as far as hosting events, promoting things, helping out and just being involved,” he said.

Chi Phi has a chapter located on Iowa State University’s campus, making UNI the second in Iowa if established. 

Santiago says that like a lot of other Greek organizations on college campuses, Chi Phi lost members during the COVID-19 pandemic. He hopes to build those numbers in the coming weeks. 

“Right now we have a core group of five [at UNI]. So being there for a week and a half I feel like that was pretty solid,” Santiago said. “I think now until October we’re trying to look for maybe anywhere from 15, 20, to 25 guys would be ideal.” 

Interfraternity Council President Chase Anderson sees the incoming freshman class and the overall uplift in campus atmosphere as an added benefit for Greek life and all student organizations on campus.

“We are seeing growing numbers again in the FSL community, and will continue to see numbers rise even more as we stray away further and further from the pandemic that came in 2020,” Anderson said. “I think it was safe to say that the whole student organization community saw troubles in the past years, and much of that was related to COVID-19.”

Anderson said the current growth this year could continue an upward trend that may impact the UNI FSL community for years to come. 

“These students are ready to get involved, and are curious about what we have to offer here at UNI,” he said, adding that brand recognition is something FSL continues to work on to bring incoming and present students information about Greek life. 

“I think Chi Phi brings new excitement and energy to the community and impacts both the fraternities and sororities that we have on campus,” Anderson said. 

Samantha Hilbert, vice president of public relations for UNI’s Panhellenic Council Executives and member of Gamma Phi Beta, says that her specific sorority has been quite busy preparing for the upcoming recruitment session in September.

“We’ve had good successes with the events we have had so far,” she said. “We have more coming up, so we’re excited.”

Students interested in getting involved in a sorority or fraternity at UNI can visit UNI’s FSL page or contact the organization through their social media page on Instagram. For more information on the Chi Phi chapter, students can reach out to the group on Instagram @UniChiPhi.

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