Printer Friendly


Student fraternities emerged in the late 1700s as an extension of literary societies and debate clubs. A century after their formation, in 1891, national interfraternal associations, or fraternity/sorority councils, also took root. These interfraternal associations would shape the Greek community on college campuses across the country. Decades later, organized and governed through national associations and collegiate councils, college student fraternities and sororities continue to flourish. The national associations and collegiate councils are an important aspect of Greek Life on college campuses, yet historical accounts of their emergence and growth are sparse.

This study examines the development and critical role of national fraternity/sorority councils at one institution, the University of Toledo (UT), Ohio. Since 1915, when the Cresset Society emerged, Greek Life has been an integral part of student life at The University of Toledo. Throughout the years, fraternities and sororities adapted and consolidated in order to ensure survival while remaining a vital component on campus. National affiliation and guidance provided the decisive strategy for their adjustment and continuous relevance. Councils were the main mechanism of consolidation, and their development went through three distinct phases: (1) the emergence of the two local councils, the Women's Inter-Sorority Council and the Men's Pan-Hellenic Council, in the 1920s; (2) affiliation with national councils in the 1940s; and (3) diversification of the campus councils with the addition of the Council of Black Greek Organizations in the 1980s.

This study demonstrates that fraternity/sorority governing councils have played a critical role for the robustness of UT's Greek community. Their story offers a rich illustration of the larger story of gradual evolution and consolidation within the fraternity/sorority community on campuses around the country. Today, most campus chapters of fraternities and sororities belong to a national organization, which, in its turn, is affiliated with a national interfraternal umbrella group (Hunter and Hughey 2013). Thus, campus Greek-letter organizations are usually recognized by their councils, "and are normally segregated by race and gender" (Ray 2013, 323). National councils emerged in response to calls for increased resources and collaboration amongst Greek-letter organizations and were instrumental in streamlining and regulating the growing fraternity system. Their crucial role has been recognized by the academic and the Greek communities. This historical study provides a case illustration of the historical importance of councils on one campus. The study took place in academic 2014-2015 and relied on information collected from primary sources, contained in the UT's archives, secondary sources, and in-depth interviews with eight former university administrators, Greek Life leaders, and alumni.

Today, the University of Toledo is home to thirty-one Greek-letter organizations affiliated across four different councils; 6% of its students, or 1,282, belong to the fraternal system. The two largest councils are the Interfraternity Council (IFC), including ten organizations with 606 primarily white fraternity men, and the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the women's organization, comprised of eight organizations with 610 mostly white women. In comparison, and reflective of historical trends, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), comprised of both African-American fraternities and sororities, includes nine organizations and forty-three individual members, and the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) includes four fraternities and sororities, and twenty-three individual members (MGC was not examined in this study because of its relatively new formation in 2008 and its affiliation with the National Multicultural Council in 2013) (UT 2015 Greek Coordinator). Despite the differences in size, each governing body serves different Greek-letter organizations, but the duties for each council board consist primarily of fostering relationships among fraternity/sorority members, promoting fraternity/sorority life, creating opportunities for professional development, and organizing philanthropic events and student programming initiatives.


Research on fraternity/sorority life can be organized into two large categories. The first category encompasses studies on the impact of Greek-letter organizations on student engagement and learning outcomes, the benefits and risks of fraternity/sorority membership, and the cognitive development of fraternity/sorority members (Martin et al. 2011; Pascarella et al. 1994; Pike 2003). Scholars have found that fraternities and sororities have strong positive effects on cultural awareness, critical thinking, and leadership development among members (Astin 1993; James 2000; King 2004). Fraternity/sorority membership can also enhance friendships, increase retention between first and second year of college (DeBard, Lake, and Binder 2006), and bolster academic engagement and active learning, community service, and personal development (Hayek et al. 2002). Yet, others have reported that fraternity/sorority membership leads to more misconduct than to enhanced development of students (Pike 2003). Tollini and Wilson (2010) identify seven prevalent negative stereotypes linked to fraternity/sorority life including drinking, womanizing, hazing, poor academic performance, paying to hang out with friends, being arrogant, and not performing community service. Much of recent research focuses on issues especially related to drinking, hazing, or sexual assault (Armstrong, Hamilton, and Sweeney 2006; Caron, Moskey, and Hovey 2004; Molasso 2005), or on the different experiences between white and black organizations (Hughey 2008; Ray 2013; Ray and Rosow 2010).

The second category of research includes historical analyses on the origins of Greek-letter organizations, often focused on the exclusionary histories of either white or black fraternal organizations (Brubacher and Rudy 1997; Dunkel and Schuh 1998; Hughey and Parks 2011; Owen 1991; Ross 2000; Rudolph 1990; Syrett 2009; Thelin 2011; Wesley 2000). In this research, fraternity/sorority councils have figured only to a limited extent, and mostly in small scale institutionally-focused projects (Hickerson 1972; King 2004), or in studies on a specific issue such as leadership practices of council members (DiChiara 2009). Popular scrutiny has centered on alcohol abuse and the councils' inability to reform fraternity/sorority drinking (Brown 2015).


Greek-letter organizations were born during a time of reform in higher education. In the late 1700s, college students demanded a curricular reform that challenged all areas of the mind (Cohen and Kisker 2010; Rudolph 1990). Their efforts brought the extracurricula practiced in literary societies and debate clubs (Rudolph 1990). The first Greek-letter organization, Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1776 by five white men at the Old Raleigh Tavern in the College of William and Mary, was essentially a literary society (Brubacher and Rudy 1997). However, it was eventually isolated from other literary societies due to its exclusivity and secrecy. In fact, Phi Beta Kappa introduced some of the main features of Greek-letter organizations that would soon become characteristic to fraternity life such as secrecy, a badge, Greek and Latin mottos, initiation, and a special handshake (The Phi Beta Kappa 2014). Other social fraternities soon followed including Kappa Alpha in 1825, Sigma Phi in 1827, and Delta Phi in 1827 (Brubacher and Rudy 1997; Owen 1991). Yet, not everyone welcomed these newly-formed organizations. College leaders were concerned about the amount of power fraternities had over their members (Cohen and Kisker 2010), and many in the community worried about their secrecy often associated with conspiracy organizations plotting against organized society (Brubacher and Rudy 1997).

Women's Greek-letter fraternities soon followed as well, starting with the Adelphean Society (today's Alpha Delta Pi), established by six women at Wesleyan College in 1851 (Alpha Delta Pi 2017; Dunkel and Schuh 1998). Soon thereafter, in 1867, Pi Beta Phi emerged as a national college fraternity, followed in 1870 by Kappa Alpha Theta as a society for women (Dunkel and Schuh 1998). However, it was not until the founding of Gamma Phi Beta in 1882 when the term sorority appeared. Fraternities/sororities had a strong appeal for college students; they fulfilled emotional needs not met by other campus organizations, provided an outlet for social interaction and fellowship among students with shared values and interests, and, more pragmatically, offered housing for many members (Brubacher and Rudy 1997).

Early fraternities and sororities were exclusionary in both socio-economic and racial respects, open mostly for white affluent men and women (Hunter and Hughey 2013). The first nationally historic black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, was founded by seven college men at Cornell University in 1906 (Alpha Phi Alpha 2008). Different reasons underlined its formation including the promotion of cultural interaction and community service, and the retention of African-American students, many of whom felt isolated (Owen 1991; Ross 2000). Two years later, in 1908, the first nationally historic black women's sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, took hold at Howard University (Alpha Kappa Alpha 2014). It was not until 1948 when the first multicultural Greek-letter society, Beta Tau Sigma, emerged on the campus of the University of Toledo, Ohio (Hunter and Hughey 2013). Its aim was to "provide a foundation that transcends racial, national, and religious differences" (Wells and Dolan 2009, 138). Finally, the first women's multicultural sorority was actually the sister sorority to Lambda Theta Phi Latin fraternity, Inc. that emerged at Kean College in 1975, formed by seventeen women in an effort to provide support and programs for Latina women (Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority 2014).

In the history of fraternities and sororities, collaboration and interfraternalism were late phenomena, expressed more pronouncedly in the 1891 call of the women's sorority of Kappa Kappa Gamma for a conference amongst seven women's sororities. Although the conference focused specifically on recruitment, according to the minutes of this meeting, discussions among the women centered on the idea that "... fraternities were desirous of knowing more of each other" (NPC 2012, 36). Women's sororities met one more time, in 1893, at the Chicago's World Fair, but it would not be for another nine years when they would come together again to form the first interfraternal association, the Inter-Sorority Conference (later to be known as the National Panhellenic Conference, NPC) (NPC 2012). In 2014, twenty-six international and national sororities with over 4,000,000 women belonged to NPC (NPC 2014).

Two more interfraternal associations soon followed. In 1909, the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) emerged as the umbrella organization for the men's fraternities. At the time of formation, the NIC did not invite African American or Jewish fraternities to join (James 2000). And in May of 1930, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. was established at Howard University as the umbrella organization for "the divine nine" historically black fraternities and sororities (NPHC 2014; Ross 2000). Sixty years later, three more councils would take shape: The National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO) in 1997; the national Multicultural Greek Council in 1998; and the National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association (NAPA) in 2005 (National APIA Panhellenic Association 2013; National Latino Greeks United n.d.; NMGC 2014).

Councils emerged in response to calls for increased collaboration and availability of resources. However, as the fraternity system grew, new factors continued to shape national councils' values and guidelines. First, the push for inclusiveness among Greek-letter organizations and the abolition of discriminatory constitutional clauses encouraged a more diverse membership; the influx of post-WWII veteran members was especially instrumental in the opposition to segregation within fraternities (James 2000). Second, with hazing-related injuries and deaths on the rise, institutions of higher education, national fraternal organizations, and state legislation demanded changes in, and even the abolition of, the new member education, or pledging process, and supported state anti-hazing laws and anti-hazing policies of national umbrella groups (Curry 1989; Ruffins 1998). Today, many universities have regulations about national affiliation, and some mandate that an organization must be nationally affiliated in order to be recognized on campus (Bauer 2012). Institutions have pushed for this affiliation because it comes with its own set of rules, resources from national headquarters, supervision from national consultants, and professional staff members to guide chapters.


The first fraternity/sorority governing councils on the UT campus were formed in 1926-1927, starting with the Inter-Sorority Council, followed by the Men's Pan-Hellenic Council. Although both councils emerged as local organizations, they both joined the national umbrella organizations in 1945-1946. The move towards national affiliation initiated a decade of intensive Greek Life consolidation at UT: 1945-1955. It was not until the 1980s when enhanced regulation and diversification of Greek-letter organizations took place, marked also by the founding of a new third council, the Council of Black Greek Organizations (COBGO).


The year 1915 was a memorable year for the University of the City of Toledo: more and more students were returning to the university. However, the range of student-welcoming initiatives was sparse; the main event--a "social and dance" hosted with the goal to engage students and promote unity--proved to be unsuccessful (The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity). As a result, a group of men felt the need for some type of student organization. In October of 1915, J. Howard Kramer, J. Cornell, Thad Corbett, H.C. Kellar, and Wm. Christensen got together to create the Cresset Society, which would be the first fraternity on Toledo's campus ("History of the Cresset Fraternity"). Its Constitution emphasized the values of "Friendship, Unity and Study" (Phi Kappa Chi 1927). The society was instrumental in the development of campus life. Many of its brothers were leaders on campus, and were behind the first football and basketball teams, the men's Glee club, the first university yearbook, and the concession and supply room (The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity). In 1916, the Cresset Society started the Convocation in the Curriculum event (Phi Kappa Chi 1927), which was, arguably, the predecessor of the university convocation program for incoming freshmen initiated in 1920 (Beard 1922). Student handbooks from the 1930s describe Convocation as an event that students attended for four semesters; it provided a forum for speakers on important topics, offered entertainment to students, was used for pep rallies, and augmented student spirit (The University of Toledo 1934).

In 1916-1917, university enrollment grew from 250 students to over 1,500 students, and by 1922, seven more Greek-letter organizations emerged including four fraternities: Sigma Beta Phi, Phi Kappa Chi (formerly the Cresset Society, which changed its name in 1922), Alpha Chi Omega, and Zeta Omicron; and three sororities: Pi Delta Chi, Kappa Pi Epsilon, and Phi Theta Psi (Beard 1922). With the expansion of student organizations, the university instituted a requirement for each student organization to select a faculty member as an official advisor (Phi Kappa Chi 1927). By the early 1920s, organizations numbered around thirty, ranging from social organizations to academic clubs, and counted amongst them the Woman's Association, the Blackfriars drama club, Peppers women's honorary society, League of Women Voters, Chemistry club, Engineer association, Pharmaceutical club, Poetry club, Debate club, and Student Council (Beard 1922; Phi Kappa Chi 1927).

Between 1915 and 1935, UT experienced a tremendous growth in infrastructure and student enrollment. During this time period, three new buildings were built, amongst which a student union. In 1918, the University of Toledo was ranked 26th in size among forty-six colleges in Ohio, and by 1935, it was sixth in size, with over 150 faculty and 3,745 students (The University of Toledo 1934, 1941). As Greek-letter organizations multiplied, the need for consolidation surfaced. In 1926-1927, two governing councils emerged: The Inter-Sorority Council and the Men's Pan-Hellenic Council (The University of Toledo 1926).

NPHC organizations did not establish chapters on campus until the 1930s, when Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi were founded; Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta sororities and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity arrived on campus in the 1940s (Alpha Phi Alpha alumni). These NPHC groups remained much smaller than their counterparts, sometimes including two-three members at a time, and operated under the Men's Pan-Hellenic Council or the Inter-Sorority Council. While NPHC chapters existed as early as the 1930s, student handbooks do not document any of these organizations as fraternities until the men's group, Alpha Phi Alpha, in 1955. The women's group, Alpha Kappa Alpha, first appeared as a sorority in the student handbook in 1973 (University of Toledo 1955, 1973). The absence of these groups from early fraternity and sorority lists in student handbooks can be explained with their small size.

The expansion of the fraternity/sorority community at UT halted in 1941 when America joined World War II. Between 1941 and 1944, the university saw many men leave the institution, resulting in much disturbance of campus student life. Many sports teams were disbanded, most fraternities went on hiatus, and some fraternities had to give up their houses because they could no longer afford to pay for them (Toledo Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni; Hickerson 1972). By 1943, student enrollment dropped to 1,174; 800 of these were women. Even faculty and staff were reduced due to military service, resignations, and leaves of absences, all to a point when in 1943, there were more faculty than there were students to teach (Hickerson 1972).


The 1944 GI Bill of Rights was a key force behind the increase of student life and consolidation within the fraternity/sorority community. By 1945, UT welcomed 3,100 veterans back to campus in addition to traditional students, and an increased number of faculty and staff to accommodate the growing student body; by 1947, the student body at UT totaled 6,200 (Hickerson 1972). Membership among Greek-letter organizations also surged, and several new organizations emerged. Two major developments marked the consolidation of fraternity/sorority life in this post-war period: increased national affiliation among local Greek-letter organizations and councils, and clarification of council purposes and goals.

The Inter-Sorority Council joined the National Panhellenic Conference in 1945. However, this national affiliation seems to have been preceded by the affiliation of the local Chi Omega with a national group in 1944 (2014 Chi Omega advisor). Chi Omega was not the only local Greek-letter organization to affiliate with a national Greek-letter organization before councils did; in fact, national affiliation of local individual Greek-letter societies provided the stimulus to the councils to join their national umbrella organizations (1987 Student Activities Coordinator and first full-time hired staff member to work with fraternities and sororities). Local fraternities and sororities at other institutions, such as Kappa Alpha in 1825, Sigma Phi in 1827, Delta Phi in 1827, and Alpha Delta Pi in 1851, were also becoming members of national councils, specifically the national sororities (Brubacher and Rudy 1997). NPC, established in 1902, already included seven sororities (NPC 2014). In 1946, shortly after the Inter-Sorority council affiliated with NPC and became Panhellenic Council, UT's Men's Pan-Hellenic council joined the North-American Interfraternity Conference (Interfraternity Council; 1981-1996 Assistant Dean of Students for Student Activities and Disciplines). In its turn, national affiliation of the councils influenced the consolidation and national affiliation of more local individual organizations.

Thus, the post-war years 1945-1955 brought unprecedented developments in UT's fraternity/sorority community. In fact, fraternity/sorority life expanded so much that the university created a position for a full-time Greek Life staff member (1981-1996 Assistant Dean of Students for Student Activities and Disciplines). Growing membership and serious need for resources to cover basic expenses pushed for national affiliation. During 1954-1955, around the same time that Phi Kappa Chi affiliated with Pi Kappa Alpha, the university saw several other fraternities appear on campus, amongst them Alpha Sigma Phi, Alpha Epsilon Phi, Phi Kappa Psi, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon (Interfraternity Council 1954-1955). Sororities were represented by Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Alpha Chi Omega, and Pi Phi. By 1955-1956, seven of the eight sororities and all ten of the fraternities were affiliated with a national fraternity (Hickerson 1972). The fraternity/sorority community had grown with more national presence than any time before.

National affiliation among UT's councils improved the status of the fraternity/sorority community, provided a shared culture, offered access to funds, mandated a board of directors, standards, and rules, and included access to alumni's experiences and teams of national consultants. It also brought benefits for the university administration. As the fraternity/sorority community grew in the period 1945-1955, the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council developed a clear purpose and a set of goals. Views about the Interfraternity Council's purpose varied; yet an underlying belief held that these councils existed to serve as a liaison for the fraternities. The Interfraternity Council was to promote fraternity/sorority life, encourage collaboration among members, highlight the advantages of fraternity/sorority membership, and provide rules and structure to organizations and overall campus operations (NIC 2014; 1960-1964 Toledo Sigma Alpha Epsilon alumni). Governing judicial processes were in place at IFC to regulate different fraternity activities (2005-2012 Sigma Alpha Epsilon alumni, and 2005-2009 Sigma Alpha Epsilon advisor and the Interfraternity Council Secretary). And while some felt that the competitive nature of IFC hindered any type of collaborative effort, others believed that the overall purpose of IFC was to promote a healthy competition between fraternities parallel to providing a more systemic approach to daily operations (1981-1996 Assistant Dean of Students for Student Activities and Disciplines, and 1977-1982 Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni).

Records and interviews indicate that the goals of the Interfraternity Council during 1945-1955 varied with the change of individuals holding officer positions within the council. Council officers typically set their goals based on what was happening within the fraternity/sorority community but also at the insistence of UT staff. Indeed, councils were required by the university to set up goals. Just as the Interfraternity Council developed an overall purpose, the sorority women of the Panhellenic Council did as well. At the same time, the late arrival of NPC at UT allowed the Council to rely more heavily on the existing umbrella organization whose purpose was to provide structure to its members while developing leaders and building friendship (Panhellenic Council President and Toledo Pi Beta Phi 1974-1980 alumnae).

UT's policies and regulations on student organizations, which started to take shape in the 1950s, also influenced the development of the fraternity/sorority community. Any chapter that wanted recognition had to comply with both the student handbook regulations for all student organizations as well as the regulations developed only for Greek-letter organizations. One institutional rule of consequence was that a student group needed ten members to be considered active. This rule, according to the 1987 Student Activities Coordinator, was sometimes overlooked for historically black Greek-letter organizations due to the low number of African American students on campus. Another fraternity/sorority-specific rule asked that Greek-letter organizations join a national organization. In this way, the rule promoted national connections with their clear policies, established governing boards, and higher levels of stability.

The growth of the UT fraternity/sorority community during 1945-1955 was exponential. Major developments in this time period included the increase in membership, the massive national affiliation of local Greek-letter organizations with a national Greek-letter organization, and the national affiliation of UT local fraternity/sorority councils. Affiliation supported councils' consolidation during 1945-1955 and allowed them to cultivate specific goals and purposes for fraternity/sorority life. As a result, the fraternity/sorority community was given a more organized governance structure, more access to resources, and clearly defined objectives.


For a fraternity or sorority member at UT, the 1980s seemed to be a great time for tradition, collaboration, fun, and drinking. Membership in Greek-letter organizations was increasing. Rules and policies for fraternity/sorority community existed, streamlined by the two councils and the university administration; yet the monitoring of the rules and regulations was rather laissez-faire. The actions of the fraternity/sorority members were left to take their own course. Issues with partying, alcohol, and hazing, however, soon brought in changes to traditional ways of functioning. The fraternity/sorority councils established rules that were aimed at eradicating all hazing practices. Additionally, national umbrella groups expressed their desire to eliminate hazing by adopting policies that ended the idea of extended pledgeships, specifically at the national organizations of Sigma Phi Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Epsilon. At UT, changes reflected a need for further consolidation and the creation of a support network across all Greek-letter organizations, increased regulation, and the emergence of a new, third, governing council.

In the 1980s, student life at UT flourished. For the fraternities/sororities, a set of awards--the Dean Parks trophies implemented by IFC and awarded for performance in three areas: academics, community service, and athletics--encouraged competition. These trophies were truly coveted among the fraternities (1977-1982 Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni). Inter-fraternity competition was also robust in the Little Sister Groups, or groups of women that were somewhat affiliated with a specific fraternity--a practice no longer active. Even though none of the women in the Little Sister Group were given any voting privileges with the fraternity they were associated with, there was a sense of favoritism and competition to have the best women as little sisters. The little sisters acted as big sisters to new members joining the fraternity; their group had a structure itself, with a president and other officer positions (1977-1982 Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni).

At the same time, student activities at UT were loosely regulated. Many fraternity/sorority social events involved alcohol. As one example, a signature Greek event, the Raft Regatta, involved drinking along the river (Panhellenic Council President and the 1974-1980 Toledo Pi Beta Phi alumnae; 1977-1982 Toledo Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni). Additionally, many of the fraternities owned their own off-campus houses, which allowed for little to no university monitoring of their actions. Often fraternity/sorority houses were "rocking with a lot of alcohol and huge parties" (1977-1982 Toledo Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni). Even though NPC had rules on alcohol in sorority houses, they were hard to enforce. In addition to alcohol and partying, hazing emerged as yet another concern. In the 1980s, fifty-five deaths related to hazing nation-wide were recorded; this number jumped to ninety-five in the 1990s; increased civil and criminal litigation paralleled the growth of hazing-related incidents (Hollmann 2002).

Issues of hazing were some of the first ones to address, starting with the gradual alteration of the pledging process. Alpha Phi Alpha alumni and COBGO founder described the changes in the pledging process as a loss of long-standing fraternity traditions due to members' abuse of the rituals and the meaning behind practices. He remembered a time when Alpha Phi Alpha pledge classes would all wear beanies, carry canes, and use personalized greetings to address older brothers of the organization whenever they were spotted on campus. It was a way to get to know the personality and flare of each person in the organization. Due to hazing related-incidents, changes were made. "We were done with it and we introduced the balanced man program and said if you want to be a part of Sig Ep, you are member" (1977-1982 Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni). The idea of the Balanced Man Program adopted by Sigma Phi Epsilon, or having new members automatically gain the same rights and privileges as active members, spread quickly. For many of the women's organizations, especially those belonging to NPC, where "rituals and traditions of the women's groups usually have not been as crazy as the guys," hazing was not a big concern (Panhellenic Council President and Toledo Pi Beta Phi 1974-1980 alumnae). So, while hazing had more of an effect on the fraternities, this was not the case for UT sororities. In 1977, NPC passed a resolution that encouraged members to stop all practices related to hazing, and adopted anti-hazing policies that contributed to the reform of the intake process (NPC 2012).

The fraternity/sorority community at UT also saw the emergence of a third council, the Council of Black Greek Organizations (COBGO), in 1988. Black Greek-letter organizations have been present on campus since the 1930s but because of their much smaller size, sometimes operating with three-four members at a time, they did not have their own governing council in the 1930s-1940s and belonged to either the Panhellenic Council or the Interfraternity Council. It was not until 1988 when the black Greek-letter organizations decided to split to form their own governing council. The division of councils did not occur because of hostile internal relationships; in fact, relationships were very amicable between organizations. Other reasons prompted the split. According to the Alpha Phi Alpha alumni and COBGO founder, the daily operations and concerns of IFC groups "were not ours"; "We did not have houses so all the stuff that dealt with risk management was not our concern... We were not allowed to have alcohol of any kind at any of our events... and we do not rush in the same way." In addition, the active political agendas of many black Greek-letter organizations were, historically, very different from those of white fraternities and sororities. Many of the national Black fraternities had taken up strong views on different political movements.

The decision to form a local council rather than affiliate with the national organization was mostly financially-based: national dues were impossible to cover (Alpha Phi Alpha alumni and COBGO founder). Similar to the councils that developed in 1945-1955, COBGO established goals and purposes, emphasizing above all the promotion of unity between black Greek-letter organizations, addressing issues specific to the black community, and bringing those issues to the attention of the administration. Efforts to affiliate with NPHC did not emerge until the early 2000s. In 2004-2006 the black fraternity/sorority community started growing and gradually gained a bigger presence on campus. Although the exact date of COBGO's affiliation with NPHC remains unknown, administrators and members place the affiliation between 2000 and 2006 (Alpha Phi Alpha alumni and COBGO founder; 1987 Student Activities Coordinator).

COBGO's emergence, and the evolution of black Greek-letter organizations in general, followed a different path than their white counterparts. Indeed, scholars have noted the continuous dissimilarities amongst black and white Greek-letter organization regarding living arrangements, location on campus, community size, educational and community objectives, and membership intake (Brown, Parks, and Phillips 2005; Ray 2013). What is more, according to Brown et al. (2005), belonging to a Greek-letter organization has different meaning for black students than it does for white. Nevertheless, at UT, COBGO's evolution followed a similar path as the other councils. COBGO emerged as a local council, took some time before affiliating with the national umbrella organization, and finally embraced national guidance for operations.


The fraternity/sorority community at the University of Toledo has over one-hundred years of history dating back to as early as 1915. Instrumental in leading student life at the university, Greek Life had to face numerous changes and adapt to survive. Consolidation was the main survival strategy, and council guidance was critical for fraternity and sorority growth and evolution. The first governing councils emerged as early as the 1920s, and moved to affiliate with national umbrella organizations in the 1940s. Diverse councils also made their appearance in the 1980s, and joined national umbrellas in the early 2000s. National affiliation contributed to the organization, development, and image of the fraternity/sorority community by providing a shared culture, opening access to funds, mandating a board of directors, standards and rules, and providing a network of members and alumni for guidance. In addition, governing councils were crucial in addressing issues related to hazing and drinking, bringing overall reform during the new member education process. This historical analysis provides insight into the University of Toledo fraternity/sorority community over the years, focusing on three of the four currently existing councils. Fraternity/sorority councils have been a critical aspect of fraternity/sorority life at the University of Toledo, and the United States in general. Understanding their historical development helps map the evolution of the fraternity/sorority community altogether.


Alpha Delta Pi. 2017. "History."

Alpha Kappa Alpha. 2014. "History."

Alpha Phi Alpha. 2008. "A Brief History."

Armstrong, Elizabeth, Laura Hamilton, and Brian Sweeney. 2006. "Sexual Assault on Campus: A Multilevel Explanation of Party Rape." Social Problems 53:483-499.

Anonymous. 2014. Interview with 1960-1964 Toledo Sigma Alpha Epsilon alumni. October 16.

Anonymous. 2014. Interview with 2005-2012 Sigma Alpha Epsilon alumni, and 2005-2009. Sigma Alpha Epsilon advisor and the Interfraternity Council Secretary. October 24.

Anonymous. 2014. Interview with 2014 Chi Omega advisor. October 30.

Anonymous. 2014. Interview with 1977-1982 Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni. November 8.

Anonymous. 2014. Interview with 1981-1996 Assistant Dean of Students for Student Activities and Disciplines. November 14.

Anonymous. 2014. Interview with Alpha Phi Alpha alumni and COBGO founder. November 20.

Anonymous. 2014. Interview with 1987 Student Activities Coordinator and first full-time hired staff member to work with fraternities and sororities. December 2.

Anonymous. 2014. Interview with Panhellenic Council President and Toledo Pi Beta Phi 1974-1980 alumnae. December 11.

Anonymous. 2015. Interview with UT 2015 Greek Coordinator. January 15

Astin, Alexander. 1993. "What Matters in College?" Liberal Education 79:4-12.

Bauer, Mark. 2012. "Freedom of Association for College Fraternities after Christian Legal Society and Citizens United." Stetson University College of Law Research Paper 2013-4.

Beard, B. 1922. The Blockhouse. University of Toledo Archives, Ward M. Canaday Center.

Brown, Sarah. 2015. "Is It Fair to Ask Fraternity-Council Presidents to Reform Greek Life?" The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 14.

Brown, Tamara L., Gregory S. Parks, and Clarenda M. Phillips, eds. 2005. African American Fraternities and Sororities: The History and the Vision. University Press of Kentucky.

Brubacher, John S., and Willis Rudy. 1997. Higher Education in Transition: A History of American Colleges and Universities. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction publishers, Inc.

Caron, Sandra L., Eilean G. Moskey, and Cindy A. Hovey. 2004. "Alcohol Use among Fraternity and Sorority Members: Looking at Change over Time." Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education 473:51-66.

Cohen, Arthur M., and Carrie B. Kisker. 2010. The Shaping of American Higher Education: Emergence and Growth of the Contemporary System. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Curry, Susan. 1989. "Hazing and the "Rush" toward Reform: Responses from Universities, Fraternities, State Legislatures, and the Courts." Journal of College and University Law 16:93-117.43

DeBard, Robert, Tony Lake, T., and Ron S. Binder. 2006. "Greeks and Grades: The First-year Experience." NASPA Journal 431:56-68.

DiChiara, Anthony. 2009. "Fraternal Leadership: Differences in Leadership Practices Among Four Governing Councils." Oracle: The Research Journal of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors 42:16-29.

Dunkel, Norbert W., and John H. Schuh. 1998. Advising Student Groups and Organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hayek, John C., Robert M. Carini, Patrick T. O'Day, and George D. Kuh, G. 2002. Triumph or Tragedy: Comparing Student Engagement Levels of Members of Greek-Letter Organizations and Other Students. Journal of College Student Dev 435:643-663.

Hickerson, Frank Raymond. 1972. The Tower Builders: The Centennial Story of The University of Toledo. Toledo, OH: The University of Toledo Press.

"History of the Cresset Fraternity." Pi Kappa Alpha records, UM 74, Box 1, Folder 5, University of Toledo Archives, Ward M. Canaday Center.

Hollmann, Barbara B. 2002. "Hazing: Hidden Campus Reform." New Directions for Student Services 99:11-23.

Hughey, Matthew W. 2008. Brotherhood or Brothers in the Hood? Debunking the "Educated Gang" Thesis as Black Fraternity and Sorority Slander. Race, Ethnicity and Education 11:443-63.

Hughey, Matthew W., and Gregory S. Parks. 2011. Black Greek-Letter Organizations: Directions in the Study of African American Fraternities and Sororities. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.

Hunter, Joanna S., and Matthew W. Hughey. 2013. "It's not Written on Their Skin Like It is Ours": Greek Letter Organizations in the Age of The Multicultural Imperative." Ethnicities 135:519-543.

Interfraternity Council. 1954-1955. "Fraternities." Pi Kappa Alpha records, UM 74, Box 3, Folder 4, University of Toledo Archives, Ward M. Canaday Center.

Interfraternity Council. n.d. Inter-Fraternity Council records, UR 84, Box 2, Folder 1, University of Toledo Archives, Ward M. Canaday Center.

James, Anthony W. 2000. "The College Social Fraternity Antidiscrimination Debate, 1945-1949." The Historian 62:303-324.

King, Erin T., 2004. "All Greek Together? An Examination of Sorority and Fraternity Members' Attitudes About Collaboration." Master's Thesis. University of Toledo, Carlson Library, Call No. K581.

Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority. 2014. "History of Lambda Theta Alpha."

Martin, Georgianna L., Michael S. Hevel, Ashley M. Asel, and Ernest T Pascarella. 2011. "New Evidence on the Effects of Fraternity and Sorority Affiliation During the First Year of College." Journal of College Student Development 52:543-559.

Molasso, William R. 2005. "A Content Analysis of a Decade of Fraternity/Sorority Scholarship in Student Affairs Research Journals." Oracle: The Research Journal of the Association of Fraternity Advisors 11:1-12.

National APIA Panhellenic Association. 2013. "History."

National Latino Greeks United. n.d. "Welcome Beinvenidos."

NIC: North-American Interfraternity Conference. 2014. "About the North-American Interfraterntiy Conference."

NMGC: National Multicultural Greek Council. 2014. "About."

NPC: National Panhellenic Conference. 2012. "Adventure in Friendship: A History of The National Panhellenic Conference."

NPC: National Panhellenic Conference. 2014. "Meet NPC."

NPHC: National Pan-Hellenic Council, Incorporated. 2014. "About Us."

Owen, K.C. 1991. "Interfraternalism." In Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities, eds. Anson, Jack L., and Robert F. Marchesani, I-7-I-8. Indianapolis, IN: Baird's Manual Foundation.

Pascarella, Ernest, Marcia Edison, Elizabeth J. Whitt, Amaury Nora, Linda Serra Hagedorn, and Patrick Terenzini. 1994. Cognitive Effects of Greek Affiliation During the First Year of College. NCPTLA, University Park, PA.

Phi Kappa Chi. 1927, November. "History of Phi Kappa Chi." Pi Kappa Alpha records, UM 74, Box 1, Folder 12, University of Toledo Archives, Ward M. Canaday Center.

Pike, Gary R. 2003. "Membership in a Fraternity or Sorority, Student Engagement, and Educational Outcomes at AAU Public Research Universities." Journal of College Student Development 44:369-382.

Ray, Rashawn. 2013. "Fraternity Life at Predominantly White Universities in the US: The Saliency of Race." Ethnic and Racial Studies 362:320-336.

Ray, Rashawn, and Jason A. Rosow. 2010. "Getting off and Getting Intimate: How Normative Institutional Arrangements Structure Black and White Fraternity Men's Approaches towards Women." Men and Masculinities 12:523-46.

Ross, Lawrence C. 2000. The Divine Nine. The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities. New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Corp.

Rudolph, Frederick. 1990. The American College and University: A History. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press.

Ruffins, Paul. 1998. "The Persistent Madness of Greek Hazing." Black Issues in Higher Education 159:14-19.

Syrett, Nicholas L. 2009. The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

Thelin, John R. 2011. A History of American Higher Education. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.

The Phi Beta Kappa. 2014. "A Brief History of Phi Beta Kappa."

The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. n.d. Epsilon Epsilon Chapter, Pi Kappa Alpha records, UM 74, Box 3, Folder 3, University of Toledo Archives, Ward M. Canaday Center.

The University of Toledo. 1926. Student Handbook 1926-1927. University of Toledo Archives, Ward M. Canaday Center.

The University of Toledo. 1934. Student Handbook 1934-1935.

The University of Toledo. 1941. Student Handbook 1941-1942.

The University of Toledo. 1955. Student Handbook 1955-1956.

The University of Toledo. 1973. Student Handbook 1973-1974.

Tollini, Craig, and Beaty Wilson. 2010. "Fraternity Members' Views of Negative Stereotypes." Oracle: The Research Journal of the Association of Fraternity Advisors 51:34-44.

Wells, Amy E., and Mark K. Dolan. 2009. "Multicultural Fraternities and Sororities: A Hodgepodge of Transient Multiethnic Groups." In Brothers and Sisters: Diversity in College Fraternities and Sororities, eds. Torbenson, Craig and Gregory S. Parks, 157-183. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Wesley, Charles H. 2000. The History of Alpha Phi Alpha: A Development in College Life. Baltimore, MD: Foundation Publishers.

Alexandra Johansen and Snejana Slantcheva-Durst

University of Toledo
COPYRIGHT 2018 Information Age Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2018 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:ARTICLE 1; Cresset Society
Author:Johansen, Alexandra; Slantcheva-Durst, Snejana
Publication:American Educational History Journal
Article Type:Case study
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2018
Previous Article:ARTICLE 5 A THORN IN THE SIDE OF SEGREGATION: The Short Life, Long Odds, and Legacy of the Law School at South Carolina State College.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |