The History of Greek Life and how it has Emerged on Trinity’s Campus and Become a Core Part of Student Life

3 min read

Abbey O’Leary ’24

Features Editor

For decades, Greek life has made its home on college campuses across the country and has become a leading form of student involvement and engagement. Trinity College is no exception, with an active and thriving Greek system of its own. This week in particular has put a spotlight on our Greek community with the week-long recruitment process for InterGreek Council fraternities and Panhellenic Sororities. 

Fifteen different Greek organizations are represented at Trinity College, including eight fraternities, five sororities, and two co-educational organizations. With over four hundred members affiliated with these organizations, Trinity’s Greek life represents twenty percent of the student population on campus. 

Greek life has been around since the eighteenth century, when a student at the College of William and Mary, John Heath, founded a Latin society chapter on his campus. After having been rejected by the two leading secret societies on campus, he established a chapter devoted to scholarship under Greek letters representing his ideals for his newly founded society. However, it wasn’t until 1825 that the idea of Greek life that we know today began at Union College with the establishment of the first Kappa Alpha Society chapter. Shortly after that, two more Greek chapters, Delta Phi and Sigma Phi, were founded at Union College as well. The idea of these fraternities, or “brotherhoods,” became increasingly popular among college campus communities and grew to be national organizations represented at different colleges and universities. Not long after, the first secret society for women was born in 1851 at Wesleyan College in Georgia, and, in 1870, the first fraternity for women was established at DePauw University under the Greek letters Kappa Alpha Theta. This idea of a fraternity for women quickly developed into our modern idea of a sorority when the Gamma Phi Beta chapter identified itself solely as a sisterhood. Now, roughly twenty percent of men and sixteen percent of women join Greek letter organizations at their college campuses, making up over nine million students across the country.

Greek life made its way to Trinity’s campus in 1850 with the establishment of the St. Anthony Hall fraternity, and it has significantly developed since. Trinity’s Greek life, now a very active and prominent sector of the student population, is grounded in its commitment to campus engagement, involvement, education, and philanthropy. Generally, it has become a common assumption that Greek life is centered on its social life and has earned a stigma across the country; however, this can be a bit misleading. Trinity’s Greek life is deeply committed both to the Trinity College community and to the greater Hartford community. Every year, each organization at Trinity is associated with a philanthropic cause and works both on campus and in Hartford to raise awareness, organize fundraisers, and volunteer to help better our surrounding communities and environment. 

As the new school year starts, all of this has been showcased to the new class hoping to be involved in the Greek life community at Trinity during recruitment. The new class has been touring the houses and meeting the members of each organization through informal events and formal recruitment to find the group best suited for them and their values. As recruitment comes to a close, it will be exciting to meet the new members and begin another great year on campus.

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