At the beginning of January 2020, Fraternity and Sorority Life, a unit of the Dean of Students Office, officially changed its name to Sorority and Fraternity Life. The name change was implemented to honor its history and the women who began Greek life on Illinois State’s campus.
Sororities and fraternities had been banned at Illinois State University since its founding in 1857. A group of black women first challenged this ban in 1942 by attempting to charter the national black sorority Sigma Beta Kappa. When university officials learned of this group, they immediately reinforced the ban on social Greek organizations.
In 1964, a black woman requested permission from the dean of women to become affiliated with the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in Chicago. She was permitted but was not allowed to bring the sorority to Illinois State’s campus. She was most likely the first Greek-affiliated person at Illinois State University.
A committee met in 1968 to address the growing requests from national organizations to charter on campus, and they adopted a position of neutrality a year later, which allowed social Greek organizations to officially form on campus. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Lambda Chi Alpha, and Tau Kappa Epsilon were among the first recognized organizations. Since 1969, Illinois State University has welcomed 61 social sororities and fraternities, which created a robust community involving approximately 35,000 alumni and 2,500 current active members.