Greek Life at Otterbein

At Otterbein, it means getting involved in community service and leadership opportunities, building friendships, sharing your talents and interests, and making connections that will last a lifetime. Our Greek community has enjoyed more than 100 years of history on campus.

Fraternities & Sororities

Fraternities and Sororities

We have six local sororities, six local fraternities, two national fraternities, and two National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) chapters. Our local organizations exist only at Otterbein University, while national organizations have chapters at different colleges and universities across the country.

Interfraternity Council

Greek Governing Councils

  • InterFraternity Council (IFC) Fraternities, Contact Jordan Aronowitz for more information.
  • Panhellenic Council (Panhel) Sororities, Contact Shelby Abbott for more information.

InterFraternity Council (IFC) Fraternities

Panhellenic Council

Panhellenic Council (Panhel) Sororities

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) Chapters

  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (Omicron Rho City-Wide Chapter) (Currently Active)
    • Capital Univeristy
    • Ohio Wesleyan University
    • Otterbein University
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (Pi Gamma City-Wide Chapter) (Currently Active)
    • Capital University
    • Denison University
    • Ohio Dominican University
    • Ohio Wesleyan University
    • Otterbein University
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Nu Phi City-Wide Chapter) (Currently Active)
    • Capital University
    • DeVry University
    • Franklin University
    • Mount Carmel University of Nursing
    • Ohio Dominican University
    • Ohio Wesleyan University
    • Otterbein University

Recruitment Information

Fraternity and sorority recruitment will take place during Spring semester. The recruitment process is different for fraternities and sororities.

Fraternity Recruitment

Throughout Fall semester, fraternities are hosting events and posting information about their respective Chapters on social media. The formal recruitment period for the seven Interfraternity Council (IFC) fraternities will take place in early Spring semester.

Fraternity Kickoff
Students interested in learning more about Greek Life and all of the different Chapters can participate in this round robin event, and connect with all 7 fraternities!

Monday, January 31 – more info to be shared soon!

Recruitment Parties
Prospective members can choose which Recruitment Parties they would like to attend. It is encouraged that prospective members attend as many as they can to experience all of the fraternities to make an informed decision.

Recruitment Parties will be held February 2 – 5. (The updated Chapter schedule will be shared soon!)

Final Dinners
All locations for Final Dinners will be provided once finalized for any Chapter that this event is open to any prospective member. For the Chapters whose location is not listed, the Final Dinner is invite only. Those invitation will be provided by the individual Chapter.

Final Dinners will be held February 9 – 12. (The updated Chapter schedule will be shared soon!)

Fraternity Signing Days
Interested students can indicate their interest/accept a bid in the Campus Center February 17 – 19. Bids/signing paperwork must be signed by 6pm on Friday, February 19th. If you have any conflicts with this, please email the Associate Director of the Center for Student Involvement, Ashley Secord.

Sorority Recruitment

Formal Recruitment for the six Panhellenic Council (Panhel) sororities will take place in early Spring semester and last for two weeks. Sign-ups are currently open and run through the first day of formal recruitment. Interested students can sign-up online using the link below. The sorority recruitment process is designed to help Potential New Members (PNMs) meet and interact with every sorority to have a better opportunity of finding the perfect match.

How it works:
In the first round (Intro Round) every PNM will have the opportunity to meet each of the six sororities. After the first round, PNMs will rank the sororities they would like to learn more about and the sororities will compile a list of PNMs they would like to spend more time with. The two lists will then be compared and PNMs will have the opportunity to attend up to four chapters for Novelty Parties.

After Novelty Parties, PNM’s and sororities will complete the same process, where PNM’s will rank the sororities and the sororities will compile a list of PNMs they would like to invite to their Final parties. The two lists will again be compared and PNM will have the opportunity to attend up to two chapters for Final Parties.

Once Final Parties are over, each PNM will rank however many sororities (0-6) they would be willing to accept a bid to membership. At the same time the sororities will rank all the PNMs they have seen in the order they would like to offer them a bid to membership. The lists will then be compared and PNM’s will become a new member of a sorority.

2021 Sorority Recruitment Schedule

Sorority Recruitment Sign-Ups – SIGN UP HERE!

You can sign-up online at the link listed above and submit your registration payment online.

Sorority Recruitment Kick-Off
Monday, January 25th from 6-7pm

Kick-Off Make-Up*
Tuesday, January 26th from 6-7pm

Intro Round
Tuesday – Thursday, January 26 – 28th 7-9pm

Novelty Parties 
NOTE: PNMs will attend a maximum of FOUR Novelty Parties

  • Theta Nu – Monday, February 1st, 5-7pm
  • Tau Epsilon Mu – Monday, February 1st, 7:30-9:30pm
  • Sigma Alpha Tau – Tuesday, February 2nd, 5-7pm
  • Tau Delta – Tuesday, February 2nd, 7:30-9:30pm‬‬
  • Kappa Phi Omega – Wednesday, February 3rd, 5-7pm
  • Epsilon Kappa Tau – Wednesday, February 3rd, 7:30-9:30pm‬‬

Final Parties
NOTE: PNMs will attend a maximum of TWO Final Parties

  • Epsilon Kappa Tau – Friday, February 5th, 5:30-7:30pm
  • Kappa Phi Omega – Friday, February 6th, 8-10pm
  • Sigma Alpha Tau – Saturday, February 6th, 12-2pm‬‬
  • Tau Epsilon Mu – Saturday, February 6th, 2:30-4:30pm‬
  • Tau Delta – Saturday, February 6th, 5-7pm‬
  • Theta Nu – Saturday, February 6th, 7:30-9:30pm‬‬

Bid Day
Sunday, February 7th at 12noon

NPHC Intake

The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is the umbrella organization of the nine historically African American, international Greek lettered fraternities and sororities. Otterbein currently shares city-wide charters with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Nu Phi City Wide Chapter), and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Iota Nu Sigma Alumnae Chapter.

Each of these groups conducts an “intake” process for new members in assistance with their local Graduate Chapter (a group of local alumni of each organization in the Columbus area). Intake varies from year to year based on each individual organization. If you are interested in membership in an NPHC organization you can contact a member of the group or the Center for Student Involvement.

History of Greek Life

100 years on campus and counting

In the 1850’s groups known as Literary Societies began forming at Otterbein. These early societies were meant to help young men and women gain a mastery of public speaking and debate skills as many early graduates pursued careers as ministers, lawyers, politicians and teachers. Literary Societies dominated campus life at Otterbein until the early 1900’s. The first decades of the 1900’s Otterbein began to see fraternities and sororities pop up on campus. Greek organizations first appeared on American campuses in the 1820s and grew rapidly after 1890.

At Otterbein, fraternities and sororities unofficially sprang into existence beginning in 1908. The fraternities often grew out of eating clubs made up of friends who belonged to the same literary society. For example, Lester Essig, William B. Grise, Harry D. Thompson and Charles Yates were all friends and members of Philomathea. They began eating together in 1908 at a house on West Broadway beyond the city limits, and so became known as “Country Club.”

Six Cleiorheteans “clubbed together” in each other’s rooms on the second floor of Cochran Hall in 1910. They shared friendship and food from home until deciding in the spring of 1911 to form Otterbein’s first sorority, Sigma Alpha Tau, “Owls.”

These organizations quickly became the new framework for organizing social life. Among students, their acceptance and importance was reflected by the 1915 Sibyl which featured a section titled “Fraternities,”including a sketch of an initiation ceremony. Officially, the University denied their existence, although it seemed to tolerate them for a time. But as the fraternities and sororities grew, so did their opposition.

From 1917 through 1921, University trustees instructed President Clippinger to suppress the fraternities and sororities. Clippinger found the task aggravating and frustrating. No matter how many students were confronted, the groups continued to grow, and by 1920, a sense of defeat was setting in among the trustees who opposed the new groups. In 1921, the Board of Trustees finally heard arguments for changing its policy. J.R. Howe, who later became president of Otterbein, spoke for the students. In the end, fraternities and sororities were allowed on campus only if membership and meetings were public, and no “oaths or irrevocable pledges of allegiance” were required. Initiation rituals, Greek letters and affiliation with national organizations were forbidden.

In the years after Otterbein sanctioned these social organizations, they grew rapidly. In 1922, when the Board first officially recognized them, 52 percent of the student belonged to fraternities and sororities. By 1928, participations had risen to 76 percent. But the place of fraternities and sororities in college life remained tentative. As late as 1929, President Clippinger insisted that Otterbein did not have fraternities and sororities, but unique “social organizations.”

By 1971, Otterbein had allowed fraternities and sororities to move out of the halls and into houses around campus. Unfortunately this came at a time when Greek organizations across the country faced mounting criticism and declining membership. Otterbein student Bob Ready ’74, who had pledged a fraternity but dropped out, wrote in the Tan & Cardinal that Greeks were too “WASPish” and divided the campus at a time when Otterbein and the country needed peace and unity.

In the 1950s and early ’60s as many as 80 to 90 percent of all Otterbein students belonged to a fraternity or sorority. Dean Joanne VanSant remembered that in 1953 before rush began, there was only one independent woman on campus. By 1972, members had dropped to approximately 54 percent for women and 45% for men. Despite the decline, Otterbein’s Greeks defended their organizations as important and positive forces in campus life. Mark Bixler ’73 argued in the Tan & Cardinal that the Greek organizations provided a style of living that encourages personal development as well as numerous service opportunities. Debbie Ayers ’72, then president of the Panhellenic Council, felt the Greek organizations were “not slowly dying, but slowly changing.”

Otterbein’s Greeks found support from numerous sources. Alumni returned to campus to work with active chapters, and the University invited national consultants to campus to help them increase their membership, modernize rushing, and focus on leadership development. In the 1980s, the fraternities and sororities steadily rebuilt their base and again expanded their influence and leadership on campus.

Today, Greek students make up about 25 percent of Otterbein’s campus populations and are places students can gather to foster deep friendships, gain valuable leadership skills, and volunteer their time within Otterbein and the greater community.

Excerpts from:
Hurley, Daniel, Cathy Fishell, Melinda Gilpin, Lois Szudy, and Tuesday Beerman Trippier. “Fraternities and Sororities.” Otterbein College: Affirming our Past/Shaping our Future. Westerville, Ohio: Otterbein College, 1996. 56-57. Print.

Hurley, Daniel, Cathy Fishell, Melinda Gilpin, Lois Szudy, and Tuesday Beerman Trippier. “Greeks.” Otterbein College: Affirming our Past/Shaping our Future. Westerville, Ohio:
Otterbein College, 1996. 72. Print.

“Joining Greek Life has been one of the best decisions of my College career. I not only have met a ton of new friends, but I get to participate in community service, and fun social events with all of them…all the time!”

Mackenzie O'Brien