by Hannah Prestage
The absence of Greek life is considered one of the key points that sells Juniata to new prospective students, as well as many others. However, did you know that there was a period of time in which Juniata had Greek life back in 1926?
There is very little information about the Greek life Juniata had. The Juniata history book “Truth Sets Free,” by Earl. C. Kaylor Jr., only had a few paragraphs mentioning it. As we see revealed in the Juniatian’s original article, The breakdown of the Lyceum system that called for a new strategy. The article states that the Lyceum enforced a change dictating that all clubs must be formally known by a Greek or Native American name, along with a few other rules such as membership limitations and allotted times.
The clubs back in 1926 perhaps seemed to be more of an extra step into education rather than leisure time. They provided a chance to experience a field outside your area of study. In particular, clubs were created to be in a specialized field related to study, whereas now our clubs are predominantly for recreation and socialization.
There was also the requirement that a freshman club was to be created, as that was the norm for Juniata at that time. Perhaps it was a way to help new students in the long run. Today we have programs such as Inbound as a way for freshmen and international students to acclimatize to life here at Juniata.
I imagine that the Greek life in the past here would have been a little different than what we see going on around campuses now. As an international student, I’ve been introduced to Greek life through TV and films. The system is a little alien to me, but my interpretation consists of constant parties and drunk students, pledging and initiations.
However, there’s also the sense of close friendships and the idea of being a small family or community. It can create a “home away from home.” Your new “family” will give you lifelong friends as well as a professional network for later in life, most likely in a variety of fields.
One of the main problems Juniata faces is a shortage of connections with the wider Huntingdon community. Although there is a lot of volunteer work and fundraising on campus, it seems it isn’t strong enough to help bond the younger generation to the older. If we did have Greek life, our understanding of community could strengthen.
The Global Village could be considered one of the closest programs to Greek life, as the houses are separate from the campus residence halls. However, I believe the Global Village segregates the community, as it is mainly international students who live together, or those domestic students learning a language. Thus, I believe the sense of community here is lacking, although we may see it to be flourishing.
Fraternities and sororities offer a place to become a brother or sister within the Greek system if you are international, or speak a different language or have different interests. It is a place to learn about the history and background of your college or chapter, strive towards bringing their mottos and aspirations to the present day and work as a community to successfully achieve goals.
Comparing the Greek system to the clubs Juniata has now, it does subject us to a sense of community wherein everyone in the club has a particular interest in common, yet as you may only meet once or twice a week, there is very little time to bond with people on a more personal level.
Referring back to the 1926 column, we see that rules were made to be followed in order to create a successful club with healthy competition between all societies. Whereas now, there is very little connection between clubs, emphasizing our lack of interaction and community.
Storming of the Arch is a strong example of bringing all students together of all years. However, this event only happens at the beginning of the year. There is always a great turn out and a competitive desire to win, making the tradition much more exciting. Unfortunately, this tradition is highly exclusive; there is nothing to include the community of Huntingdon, and although the event is open to all students, there are many who avoid it, as they attended their first year.
I have often heard students here refer to Juniata as being “cliquey,” indicating that people are unhappy with the fact that they cannot socialize with other people or feel as if they have to pretend to be someone they aren’t in order to fit into the norm. I definitely see this around campus, more so in Baker or Muddy. We are not in high school anymore. This is college, where we learn to better ourselves and help others find themselves, too.
In this case, would it not be an improvement to bring back Greek life to open up from this segregated campus we as students recognize but is perchance unknown to the faculty and administration of Juniata?
Thursday 9th December 1926
Juniatian Volume III, No. 10
Last week we attempted to attack frankly and directly the present status of campus clubs. It is our aim in this issue to present a plan that will at least offer some suggestions to be considered in reorganization. The proposal does not boast of infallibility.
- All of the present clubs should be dissolved. This understanding will be prerequisite to any subsequent plan intended to remedy the present situation.
- New clubs should be formed in number sufficient to accommodate those students who wish affiliation with some organization.
- These new clubs should be given Greek letters or Indian names. At least they should not be designated as specialized departmental bodies.
- The membership of each club should be definitely limited. Twenty-five or thirty has been suggested as optimum. This will prevent any one club from swallowing a sister organization. Furthermore, the smaller group will be able to function more effectively.
- Members should be admitted on bid and then only when certain standards of qualification have been attained.
- The nature of the club program should be determined by the organization. It should be liberally broadening with ample supervised social activity.
- A definite time should be appointed for clubs to meet and every effort should be made to protect this period from interposing events.
- A freshman club should be organized for the first semester, as has been the practice heretofore.
- Specialized societies should be formed for those who wish to increase their knowledge and interest in specialized fields. These societies could be largely honorary with occasional meetings. (This phase will receive more attention in a later editorial).
- There should be some organization corresponding to the Lyceum to direct inter-club activities, pass rules and decide on questions of mutual interest.
Finally, there should be a number of contests arranged among the several clubs, public programs given and activities sponsored, in order to stimulate an active interest in club affairs.
What is needed immediately is a committee of students and faculty to make a complete survey of the situation in an attempt to effect a remedy.
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 7 Campus Spin