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BID DAY BIG FOR GREEKS.

Byline: Lewis Taylor The Register-Guard

The shrill sound of 222 young women screaming echoed across Gerlinger Field at the University of Oregon on Tuesday evening, followed by a short stampede of soon-to-be-sorority sisters.

"Run to your seniors," a recruitment counselor instructed ahead of time. "Your future sisters will be waiting for you."

As the mostly freshman crowd of young women rushed toward the open arms and welcoming banners of their new sisters, truckloads of shirtless men drove by on nearby University Street blaring hip-hop music and shouting out slogans and Greek letters.

"We try to build up the energy and get everyone as excited as we can," explained Chase Scott, 21, a senior from Delta Sigma Phi wearing a cowboy hat and lots of green paint on his torso.

"Today's just a day for brotherhood," he added. "We're here to solidify our house and make sure everyone is welcome."

Brotherhood and sisterhood were the watchwords in streets, quadrangles and front lawns on Tuesday. It was "bid day," an annual rite of passage for Greek students that's repeated at colleges and universities throughout the country about this time of year as future fraternity and sorority members find out the names of their sponsoring houses.

"It's overwhelming for (the new recruits)," said Kelly Carter, 21, president of Chi Omega sorority. "It's a fabulous thing to be a part of."

The high point of the evening came early on when hundreds of women simultaneously opened sealed envelopes containing the names of their sponsoring sororities. The ceremony brought to an end the week-long formal recruitment period during which women visited different sororities and whittled their choices down to two houses.

"It's a moment of anticipation and then, oh my gosh, it's real," said Amy Long, an advisor with the University's Greek Leadership office.

For the men, it was somewhat less suspenseful. Most of the future fraternity members already knew the names of their sponsoring houses before Tuesday's ceremonies.

"I'm really excited. It's a great start to the school year," said Chris Brewer, 18, a member of the Delta Sigma Phi pledge class who received his bid on Sunday.

Although you wouldn't know it to see Tuesday's scene, overall participation in the Greek system has been slipping in recent years at UO. The estimated Greek population currently stands at 1,300, around 8 percent of the student body, Long said. In 1998, that number was 1,550, or 9 percent of the student population at the time.

Nevertheless, Long and others were pleased with this year's fall rush, or recruitment, as it's now called. At the UO and across the country, Greek organizations are reinventing themselves and focusing on opportunities besides drinking and partying. In 2004, three alcohol-related deaths occurred in U.S. fraternities in one month and left the Greek system with a black eye. Tuesday's events were dry, and the UO's Greek system has been, officially, alcohol-free since 2002.

Jeanie Nguyen, president of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, believes the new approach is working.

"This year, the Greek community focused on showcasing our community service activities, academics and getting involved in campus organizations," she said. "Everyone got a real look at what we're really about."

CAPTION(S):

Chase Scott (center with hat) and other Delta Sigma Phi fraternity members get energized for a group photo in front of their house on Tuesday, the Greek system's bid day. After finding out which sorority they will belong to, pledges run to join their new sisters on the lawn at Gerlinger Hall on the University of Oregon campus on bid day. Sorority recruitment counselors with Delta Gamma blow kisses while waiting to let new pledges find out the big news. From top left: Lauren Bobetsky, Haley Emery, and Gina Spatafore. From bottom left: Danielle Ellis, Lisa Forsberg, and Kelly Murphy. Kevin Clark / The Register-Guard
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Title Annotation:Higher Education; UO fraternities and sororities increase the focus on community service, academics and getting involved on campus
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 12, 2005
Words:637
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