Although presently there seems to be no real push for the implementation of a Greek life on campus, fraternities like Alpha Sigma Nu seems to have once at least somewhat dominated the social and academic scene at Boston College. Beginning in 1939 when the first Honor Fraternity was established, the existence and idea of fraternities have struggled and evolved throughout the years.
At present, BC exists as a Jesuit institution that does not officially recognize any fraternities or sororities that constitute the idea of Greek life. Although this distinguishes BC from hundreds of colleges throughout America that do promote the Greek system, it is a decision that was eventually made, in part, due to practicality as well as to stay in line with to the Jesuit ideology.
At the time that Alpha Sigma Nu was founded at BC in March 1939, it was at that time “represented by chapters in more than twenty-five colleges throughout the nation” according to an article from the March 24, 1939 issue of The Heights. This same article outlined the requirements to be selected as one of the few honorary members, including academic excellence as well as embodying what it meant to be of Jesuit education. Upon being initiated, such members would also be “awarded charms significant of the great honor conferred upon them,” and their membership was one that would “hereafter be the highest honor a Boston College man can attain and will be the goal of every student.”
The emergence of new fraternities over the years is made clear from articles published in issues up to 1980 in The Heights. Many fraternities, including Delta Sigma Pi and Alpha Kappa Psi, were geared toward business and marketing, and limited their memberships by major study. “Only those majoring in Accounting, Economics, Finance, Management, and Marketing” were eligible according, to the Dec. 9, 1955 issue.
These business fraternities persisted over the years and are depicted to seem more in tune with today’s preconceived notion of Greek Life with detailed descriptions of their hazing processes for the new pledges. Some of the pledges’ “assignments” included “[measuring] the temperature of the ice in the hockey rink … [collecting] empty cigarette packages … [writing] five hundred word essays on how to change a baby, and [conducting] elaborate burial ceremonies for dead flies.” Despite such ridiculous antics, though, the then president of Delta Sigma Pi made clear their true purpose was to “foster the study of business, to encourage scholarship and social activity among students of commerce, and to further a higher standard of ethics and culture in the commercial world.”
Evident from claims made in the March 17, 1980 issue of The Heights, though, the dominance of business fraternities at BC seemed to have diminished over the years and other fraternities still existing appeared to be under scrutiny for reasons involving racial concerns and disturbance complaints. This led to an administration meeting with representatives from the all-black membership fraternities in order to attempt to combat some of the myths surrounding fraternities and the pressing issues that that had been brought up by other residents on campus.
In 1986 fraternities or Greek life at BC was no longer present. This is implied from an article on April 7, 1986 from The Heights that advocated off-campus fraternities in response to the lack of Greek life on campus. This issue is brought up multiple times, as seen in issues from Nov. 10, 1986 as well. Both times the advocates had been UGBC presidents arguing on the stance of “enhancing the social experience at BC.” Such arguments did not seem to convince the then Dean for student development, Robert Sherwood, though, as he ultimately “rejected the coalition’s plea for official recognition.”
Although unofficial BC fraternities have been founded, most recently in 2013, according to the March 25, 2013 issue of The Heights, it does not seem likely for Greek life to be present on BC’s campus anytime in the near future. The majority of students seem to have agreed with this notion for quite some time, though, as Rev. William B. Neenan, S.J., stated in an article published on Sept. 8, 1999 that the lack of Greek ife is actually beneficial since “it doesn’t generate cliques or blackball students, but allows students to move broadly throughout different groups of people.”
Contrary to what might have been established in the history of BC, it is quite clear that the Greek system is not something that BC, as a Jesuit institution, will be pursuing in the future. “The inherently exclusive nature of Greek life means that it is unlikely that the University will ever officially recognize fraternities and sororities,” then-Dean of Students Paul Chebator said in the March 25, 2013 issue.
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