This fall marks the 148th anniversary of the Gamma Sigma Fraternity; it also marks a serious drought in the number of pledges for the Gammas.
Currently Gamma has four members; President Jon Riffey, Vice President Jordan Polly, Treasurer Will Marchbanks and Taylor Krusen who is studying abroad in Osaka, Japan. The members currently enrolled at the Forest Grove campus are all sophomores and pledged into the fraternity fall of 2010. They have also been in charge of recruitment for this semester’s pledging.
The three Gammas at Pacific have set up info tables at every event available, called people and friends who were previously interested, passed out handouts, networked and talked to people they said they hadn’t talked to before in attempts to recruit pledges. The Gammas originally had 13 male students signed up, but all ended up “flaking out” said Marchbanks. The Gammas are stumped at what more they could do.
“We are approachable and easy to find,” said Marchbanks. “I don’t know what more we can do.”
Currently Gamma is getting pressure from the Pacific University Greek Senate and the College of Arts and Sciences Student Senate to get pledges. The Gammas feel it has been a struggle to put on and host events with only three members present. “There’s not a lot of man power,” said Marchbanks.
This isn’t the first time a lack of pledges has been a problem for Gamma, but Marchbanks explains from his personal observations that pledges come in groups.
“You don’t join a frat for the frat. Peers put on the pressure more than the Gammas themselves.”
Marchbanks said that maybe the Gammas don’t have pledges because students don’t know them all that well.
Gamma Sigma itself is one of the oldest fraternities west of the Mississippi, has a very strong alumni connection and has the shortest pledging period of all the fraternities at Pacific. The Gammas pledging period is one week. The Pi Kappa Rho Fraternity’s pledging period is two weeks and the Alpha Zeta’s pledging period is three weeks long.
“It’s one tough week, but doable,” said Marchbanks.
Alumni are a big part of pledging as well. Marchbanks said when being initiated into the Gammas there were four or five alumni present everyday and added, “They enjoyed pledging as much as we did.”
Once you pledge Gamma you are a Gamma for life. “Even though we are not the most populated currently,” said Marchbanks, “That history goes so far back. We have Gammas all over the world.”
The unity Gamma holds is what Marchbanks hopes will gain more pledges. The feelings of brotherhood and belonging in a society that is like-minded to you are the reasons Marchbanks said he enjoys being part of Gamma. As a group he said they don’t just graduate and leave. Once they are a Gamma, they’re your brother now and part of your social circle. “It’s a unique thing,” said Marchbanks.
The question in Gammas’ future is whether they will still be recognized as a club and if their funds will be cut. To be a recognized club with CASSS, the club must sustain an active membership of seven students minimum.
While Gamma said they realize they might not get as much funding this year, they said they are hoping for a probation period to be recognized as a club while they work on recruitment.
“We need to rebuild,” said Marchbanks. “We are starting from scratch.”
For the future Gamma plans to make some changes in their pledging process. The Gammas are going to continue all the networking and tabling along with asking their sister sorority Theta Nu Alpha and alumni for help getting students interested according to Marchbanks. Their goal is to be seen more in the public eye. With help from the Thetas and alumni, Marchbanks said he is more confident that the Gammas will recruit pledges within a year and a half.
Personally, Marchbanks said he wants to plan more on campus events focused on students getting to know the Gamma members.
“They see go Greek; not go Gamma,” said Marchbanks. “People need to get to know us, get to know Gamma.”
In part with the Greeks philanthropy requirement, Marchbanks said the annual “Gamma Growout” is still happening. For “No-Shave November,” actives and non-Gammas compete to raise money for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. This is the Gammas’ philanthropy project to raise awareness and donate money to those with alopecia areata, a condition in which hair is lost from all or some parts of the body. Marchbanks, Polly and Riffey will be in the U.C. with a table set up for Gamma Growout in the start of November.
Ultimately Marchbanks said the Gammas will fulfill their duties, club or not.
“We’ve tried really hard to recruit. Jon and Jordan are both passionate and I don’t see that dying, even if we aren’t recognized anymore.”