Arts & Culture / Greek Life / Mosaic / November 16, 2011

Greek history at Knox

Note: This is the second in a two-part series looking at Greek history in the Knox archives.

During the World War II years, Greek members were highly involved in the war. Fraternities were hit hard, with many losing members and others even ceasing to be active.

Greek Life in World War II

“Due to the decreased enrollment of men students, only three of the six national fraternal groups on campus were active at the beginning of the fall quarter. The Phi Delts, Phi Gams, and Tekes, each with a few members, participated in rush week as usual. However, rush week was a far cry from that of past years (92),” the 1945 Gale said.

Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) was the only fraternity on campus that was consistently active since the war began. During the war, some Fiji members took flying courses, Sigma Nu had sharpshooters on the rifle squad and other fraternity members joined Scabbard and Blade, the honorary military group.

All the fraternity houses were taken over by the college or by the army. From the 1945 Gale:

“The Beta and Phi Gam houses were used as barracks for the air cadets while the Phi Delt and Sigma Nu houses served for a time as barracks for the A.T.S.P. men and a signal corps unit respectively. The Phi Sig house took care of the overflow of freshman students from Whiting Hall, and the Teke house was occupied by the civilian men students. During the winter, the Phi Delt House was converted into a Pan-Hellenic House (92).”  

During the war, the sororities did activities to benefit the war effort, such as buying bonds.

“As for war work, the Tri Delts have rolled bandages for the Red Cross, have been buying War Bonds, and have worked in the new Service Mens Center in town (57),” the 1944 Gale said.

Sororities also participated in rifle shooting, which continued after the war, and the 1951 Gale listed the Pi Phi riflery team as placing first in the women’s intramural competition the previous fall.

Former sororities were integral in many activities on campus and Knox once had an Alpha chapter. The former sorority Alpha Xi Delta’s (still active nationally) Alpha chapter was originally founded at Lombard College in 1893. The now-defunct sorority Phi Beta contributed to the success of WVKC (then WKC) as announcers and continuity writers.

1980s to present

The popularity of fraternities and sororities dropped until in the 80s, there were only five fraternities and three sororities. However, Alpha Pi Omega, the co-ed service fraternity was established in 1984.

In 2004, Phi Delta Theta’s charter was suspended for multiple infractions, and in the same year, the Lambda Alpha chapter of Sigma Chi was founded in 2004. A year later, the local sorority Tau Sigma Omega, now Kappa Kappa Gamma colonized and affiliated with the national organization in 2006. 2007 was a big year for the formation of local colonies: Gentlemen of Quality, a multicultural fraternity, Women of Influence, a multicultural sorority and Alpha Theta Pi, which then affiliated with the national sorority Alpha Sigma Alpha in 2010.

Sheena Leano

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