Greek Life During the War

FIJI Athlete, 1919

FIJI Athlete, 1919

In a letter to alumni, LL Cassard, the head of recruitment at Beta Theta Pi wrote, “Of all the institutions affected by the war one of the most handicapped has been the college fraternity…Especially is this true at an institution with as small as un undergraduate body as Johns Hopkins.” As young, promising men were being shipped off to war, the activity of fraternities on campus dwindled. War was not the only aspect hindering the growth of Greek life. One fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, also known as Fiji, brought up another concern: the flu epidemic. The University and the City of Baltimore were completely quarantined by the epidemic. With “no house, no movies, no theatres, the University closed, [and] gatherings frowned upon,” fraternity recruitment on campus came almost to a standstill. The signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918 meant that young men flocked back to campus, but by then the fraternities were already severely crippled.

According to the 1919 issue of the Oriole Fiji, Phi Gamma Delta’s fraternity newsletter, the transition back to peacetime meant that the brothers had to shift their priorities back to their studies: “We who came back after the war was over, are just beginning to realize the great work accomplished by the men who were present during the trying fall period…In wartime, in a world aflame with rumors, it was easy enough to let the studies drift. Now, with a long road of peace and income tax ahead, we must…put more time on our studies and less on our fraternity work.”

Oriole FIJI 1919

Oriole FIJI 1919

In 1916, Hopkins officially moved to the Homewood campus. Phi Gamma Delta provides some insight to how such a change affected Greek life: “With the removal of the University to its more spacious location at Homewood, the Chapter also had to find a new home and make new plans. However, this change has worked wonders with the active Brothers. “Since the opening of the University last October, there has been a constant transition for the better in and about the chapter.” The newsletter goes on to say that they had six brothers living in the house, with a handful of other brothers taking their meals there, whereas before they had none. The movement of the University had a promising effect on Greek life, as it allowed for the fraternities to redefine their bearings on campus and acquire new houses.

 

 

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