YSU Fraternity Membership on the Decline 

The Theta Chi fraternity house is located Pennsylvania Avenue in Youngstown. Photo by Kamron Meyers/The Jambar

By Abigail Cloutier

Youngstown State University’s sorority membership sits at 195 members versus 123 total fraternity members, resulting in a 60-40 ratio, according to the Office of Student Activities.

Though sororities continue to increase in membership, fraternities are struggling to obtain members. 

Carrie Anderson, associate director of student activities and Greek life adviser, said a significant portion of students graduate at the same time, causing a fluctuation in numbers. 

“I think something that affects us a lot is that more recently we’ve had a lot of larger classes of new members in the last couple years,” she said. “So eventually, it’s time for them to graduate, so you see a lot more men leaving the organization at the same time.” 

According to Anderson, sororities have more consistent membership because of different national standards. 

“With sororities, how they’re run nationally, they have parity,” she said. “So they have to be around the same total number, so that one’s not getting stronger than the other. But when it comes to the [Interfraternity Council], they don’t regulate these sorts of things.”

Fraternities ultimately compete for new members, resulting in some having more presence on campus. Anderson also said these factors require members to work harder at recruitment.

The Theta Chi fraternity house is located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Youngstown. Photo by Kamron Meyers/The Jambar

“I still see us in a growth period, but with our guys, they’re starting to notice that they’ve got to work a little bit harder and be a little bit more outgoing,” she said. 

Data from YSU’s student activities office somewhat reflects those fluctuations in recruitment. The bid reports for every semester show the percent increases between the beginning and end of the semester but they do not acknowledge drops in membership between semesters.

For example, if a fraternity went from 34 to 37 members in spring 2019, it’s shown as a 9% increase. But if in fall 2019 it starts the semester with 24 members and goes up to 30, it’s shown as a 38% increase even though that fraternity had a net loss of seven members from the end of spring 2019 to the end of fall 2019.

Clay Miller, a sophomore integrated math education major and president of Sigma Tau Gamma, said recruitment can be a difficult time for many fraternities. 

“We have a harder time recruiting because we have a larger population of people who commute,” Miller said. “I personally believe at least some of the people who commute are in a situation where they maybe don’t have quite enough money to spend on this kind of stuff.”

A breakdown of membership per fraternity per semester. Statistics provided by the Office of Student Activities

According to a U.S. News & World Report article, 89% of enrolled students at YSU are commuter students, and as of 2018 nearly 20% of YSU students are nontraditional. 

Miller said YSU students “wear a lot of hats.”

“There’s a lot more responsibility that our students have here. They may not have enough time to get to be in a chapter, which is totally respectable,” he said. 

Beck Holko, a sophomore interpersonal communication major and president of Theta Chi, said stereotypes about Greek life participation is one reason for recruitment difficulties.

“I think the media portrays a lot of the bad things that happen. A lot of people don’t realize that fraternities do a lot for you, and you’re doing a lot for your community,” Holko said.

Both Miller and Holko said they found a sense of community in Greek life at YSU.