Digital History at Ursinus

Browse Exhibits (2 total)

Reading Between the Letters: Inclusivity of Marginalized Groups in Ursinus College's Greek Life

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Reading Between the Letters is an Ursinus digital history project that records the inclusion of marginalized groups within Greek Life from the 1970s to present day. During this time frame, values of diversity and inclusion began to gain momentum on a national scale with the civil rights and feminist movements. Our research seeks to understand how Ursinus was affected by and responded to the national discourse on diversity and Greek life.

Our research question is: How inclusive has Greek life on campus been of marginalized groups, including women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community?

Our primary sources include Ursinus' newspaper articles, especially opinions and editorial pieces, to understand overall inter-fraternity and sorority policies and broader student body responses. We also use photos from the yearbooks of Greek organizations to complement our findings from the newspapers. Our exhibit presents and compares articles about greeks, faculty, and the student body as a whole to gage the way racial and gender inclusivity has played a role in Greek life. 

The sections of this project include:

The History of Ursinus' Greek Life: a timeline of the complete history of Greek organizations at Ursinus and overview of the past conflicts about pledging between administration and Greek life.

Gender Segregation and Inclusion in Greek Life: a discussion on critiques of Greek life's gender segregation and information about the four gender-inclusive Greek organizations in Ursinus' history.

Racial Diversity and Inclusion in Greek Life: Ursinus has had Greek organizations on campus for the past 110 years, but the campus only saw organizations focused on racial diversity and inclusion starting 25 years ago. This section will focus on why these racially diverse organizations were present and how Ursinus responded to this. 

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The Fall of Greeks: Disappearing Fraternities from Ursinus College

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Context and Argument 

Ursinus College campus used to be brimming with fraternities, especially in the 1980s. Fraternities have been started as early as 1925 to the last addition of a charter beginning in 2005. There are only a few fraternities still alive today at Ursinus. Our goal is to find out why fraternties at Ursinus College seem to be gradually disappearing from campus. Through primary source research on specific fraternties via Ruby yearbooks and Grizzly articles, we seek an internal answer to our question. Through secondary source resaerch, primarly sifting through academic databases, we seek to find am external or nation-wide answer to our question. Times are always changing.

Focus Group and Justification 

Additionally, we would like to make a distinction and justification for the type of fraternity we wil be focusing on throughout our project. We will be primarily be focusing on what we deem to be "traditional fraternities." Traditional fraternities are member based organizations that include a rushing process, pledging process, and a membership exclusive to men. We exclude academic fraternities and gender inclusive fraternities, because they do not face scrutiny or a declined prescence on campus. On the contrary, academic and gender inclusive fraternities are on the rise. We also acknowlege that local soroities face the same scrutiny and issues that traditional fraternities are currently going through. We scope of our project would be too large if we included them, therefore, we respectful acknowlege their issues and struggles here. 

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