Tulane senior researches greek life, retention rates

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Tulane senior researches greek life, retention rates

Tess Riley, Staff Reporter

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Adeem Nachabe, a current senior and member of the Kappa Alpha Order, conducted a research project last spring inspired by his own experience in Greek life.

“I know that Tulane boasts a high retention rate and I was curious as to why,” Nachabe said. “Personally, I stayed at Tulane because I found a fraternity I felt like I fit in.”

Nachabe’s research found a correlation between freshmen who go Greek and freshmen who stay at Tulane.

His statistics analyzed the freshmen in the 2013-14 academic year. Out of 732 freshmen who joined Greek life, only 1.37 percent transferred. Out of 877 freshmen who did not join Greek life, 13.45 percent transferred.

According to Nachabe, he has had a positive experience in Greek life; however, he has noticed a recent trend of college Greek life being portrayed especially negatively in the media. This inspired Nachabe to base his project on the more favorable implications of participation in Greek life, such as a possible higher retention rate.

His numbers suggest freshmen who go Greek are less likely to transfer, though his project only proves correlation, not causation.

Senior Associate Dean Amjad Ayoubi said he did not find these results surprising. Students who get involved in campus life, including Greek life, tend to have higher rates of retention and student satisfaction at universities.

“By being engaged and developing relationships within the university, students are able to develop friendships and a support network in addition to finding activities that satisfy their interests, academic and non-academic, and build a holistic campus life experience,” Ayoubi said.

Junior Summer Lawson, vice president of chapter development for Phi Mu sorority, feels that there are no sororities whose individual members entirely fit a particular stereotype. She believes that the diverse personalities and large number of women involved leads students who go Greek to find their niche in any given organization they join.

“I think a lot of it is that transfer students transfer because they don’t find their home in whatever college they’re at,” Lawson said. “I think Greek organizations really provide that opportunity for women to find their home on campus and feel situated and supported.”

While the findings of Nachabe’s project only account for Tulane University, a 2014 study at the University of Tennessee also found a correlation between Greek life membership and increased retention as well.

Director of Fraternity and Sorority Programs Elizabeth Schafer said the biggest thing fraternities and sororities have to offer is a sense of community with people who share similar values. Greek life at Tulane and nationwide has been steadily increasing over the past few years, which Schafer attributes to students searching for a sense of belonging and connectedness.

“We have lots of anecdotal evidence about students who seriously considered transferring before they joined Greek life and then found a community of friends who they didn’t want to leave,” Schafer said.