In spring 2005, in the wake of a series of serious, some tragic, incidents involving Chico fraternities and sororities, President Paul Zingg called for a comprehensive review of the Greek system, saying, “If we continue to have fraternities and sororities at Chico State, they must reflect the self-professed and admirable ideals of those organizations, and they must be aligned unequivocally with the core values and necessary expectations of the University itself. And these—let me reiterate—are community, civility, respect, service, tolerance, and integrity.”
Zingg formed a Greek System Review Task Force, and by the end of the 2005 spring semester, the task force had outlined three tiers of recommendations to help Chico’s Greeks realign their organizations with the positive values championed in their charters. These recommendations included drug- and alcohol-free houses, GPA requirements, and zero tolerance for hazing.
Three years later, the Greek system is stronger and better than before, says Gregory Bruce, the 2007–2008 president of CSU, Chico’s Interfraternity Council. “We’ve come a long way from what President Zingg referred to as ‘glorified drinking clubs,’ ” he says. “We’re going back to the core values of the Greek system—stressing the importance of brotherhood and sisterhood, and trying to be among the best overall organizations on campus.”
Current Vice President for Student Affairs Drew Calandrella works with the CSU, Chico Greek system on this goal, and he sees progress. “All of the current fraternities and sororities have adopted the new regulations that grew out of the Greek Life Task Force,” he says.
The 2007–2008 Panhellenic president, Chandler Ellman, points to Greek philanthropy as one of the benefits of a Greek system for Chico and the University. Each sorority and fraternity puts on a fund-raiser for a chosen philanthropy every semester, and during Greek Week, they join forces to put on a number of events benefiting the community. During fall semester 2008, more than 700 fraternity and sorority members participated in Greek Week service projects, says Ellman.
Bruce acknowledges that there is still work to be done: Three Chico State fraternity members are currently facing charges of misdemeanor hazing for incidents that happened during the spring 2006 rush. The fraternity involved, Beta Theta Pi, has since lost its university affiliation and national charter. “It’s basically our job as IFC and Panhellenic and future Greek leaders,” says Bruce, referring to those who don’t follow the code, “to weed out those members eventually.”
Bruce adds that the changes in the Greek system are having unexpected returns. They are attracting new members who may have been turned off by the Greek system’s reputation a couple years ago. The spring 2008 fraternity rush was 10 to 15 percent larger than the previous year, he says, adding “I’m having a great time.”