Griffins are going Greek

Those who come to Westminster College may choose it over a large university education for its homey feel, small class sizes and personalized attention. Yet, some students who attend the college get the best of both worlds, benefiting from the personalized Westminster experience and the University of Utah’s social involvement.

On Sept. 7, students at the University of Utah who have been attempting to join, or “rush” into fraternities and sororities got their “bids” and were either accepted or rejected into the Greek organization of their choice. For the past few years, a small number of Westminster College students have been rushing with them—even though it’s against the university’s guidelines.

A view down the University of Utah's Greek Row. In recent years, some Westminster students have been "rushing" into fraternities at the University of Utah.    photos by Rachel Robertson

A view down the University of Utah's Greek Row. In recent years, some Westminster students have been "rushing" into fraternities at the University of Utah.    photos by Rachel Robertson

“There were some rumors going around in the last few years that you could be a student here, and—because we don’t have Greek life here—you could go be a member up at the U of U,” said Mark Ferne, Westminster’s dean of students.

Those rumors, which have circulated Westminster for several years, have no substance.

“For an individual to be a member of a club/organization or a Greek organization, they need to be a student enrolled at the University of Utah for their insurance coverage; there’s all sorts of reasons why,” Ferne said. “To be an actual member—to hold a leadership position—you have to be a matriculated student.”

The university had issues with Westminster students rushing in years past and has since tightened its club and organization recruitment processes to avoid letting Westminster students slip through the cracks.

About two years ago, the university began enforcing “very strict policies of double and triple checking the rosters of all of the Greek organizations,” Ferne said.

Since then, Ferne said Westminster hasn’t had any complaints about its students joining Greek life.

However, the increasing restrictions haven’t stopped some fraternities from continuing to recruit Westminster students.

Westminster junior Christian Anderson decided to rush his first year but never became a full member. While he was going through recruitment, he said he had no idea that Westminster students weren’t allowed to rush.

When he found out, he wasn’t surprised.

“Rules are broken all throughout college,” Anderson said. “This is just another example of how the rules are broken. Plus…it’s money. They’ll take any money they can get.”

Grady Mellin, a Westminster student who was also a member of a University of Utah fraternity his first year, was unaware of the restrictions, as well.

He said he believed that “any college in the Salt Lake Valley has the ability to [rush with the University]” but that “certain frats and sororities have their own rules.”

Although Mellin and Anderson are no longer part of Greek life, one Westminster student—who did not want to be named for fear of being “torn from [his] brothers”—said he currently holds a leadership position in a University of Utah fraternity.

A University of Utah spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Mellin and Anderson both said that, aside from the fact Westminster students aren’t allowed to join University of Utah fraternities, being a Westminster-enrolled student in the university’s Greek organizations had many challenges.

Fraternities expect their members to do weekly chores and duties, something both Mellin and Anderson cited as the biggest hardship of being a Westminster fraternity member.

“We wouldn’t be able to do a lot of those tasks and chores right when they tell you,” Anderson said. “A lot of times, they’d text us and say ‘Hey, it’s your chore day,’ and it would take us an hour to get there. It would be a big difference instead of someone who lives on campus just walking over. You could see it as an inconvenience for them, I guess.”

Mellin cited the high costs of maintaining membership as another factor in his decision to quit. He said he paid $150 per month in fraternity dues.

“The reason I left was time and money,” Mellin said. “The amount of time I was spending there wasn’t worth the amount of money I was spending.”

Anderson, too, said that cost had a big role in his decision not to pledge.

“Coming from someone that’s outside the frat life now, I feel like you’re just paying for friends,” he said.

Because of the distance between the schools and challenge of getting Westminster students to take their duties seriously, some fraternities have recently bended to the university’s rules and become more resistant to letting outside students rush.

“Some of the people that they rushed from other schools didn’t take it as seriously, like me included,” Mellin said. “And they kind of didn’t like that aspect.”

Most Westminster students are resistant to the culture of Greek life, according to Mellin, who said that’s one of the major reasons that most students choose not to rush—even if they could.

“At Westminster, the culture is very against Greek life,” he said. “Westminster is very anti-stereotype, but then they stereotype Greek life too hard. It’s like, no—every house is different. People definitely judged me for joining the frat.”

Anderson agreed and said that Westminster’s culture motivated him to rush in the first place.

“I didn’t necessarily want to be at a big school, but after I came to Westminster and realized there wasn’t that big of a campus life, I wanted to see what it’s like to live the frat life,” he said. “I saw the opportunity and I was like ‘Hey, why not?’”

As long as Westminster students have the capability to get around the university’s restrictions and experience the best of both college worlds without consequences, they will continue to ask that same question.