Rummaging Through Relics

Isadora Groves

Sororities and fraternities: selective organizations unique to the college experience. Well, almost. As it turns out, in the middle of the last century, our very own Wilson High School had these societies as well. 

 

I stumbled upon this information while looking for Wilson’s archives, allegedly located in the library, near the printers. I had been given the task of writing a historical piece about a Wilson artifact that I would find in the school archives. After loitering around the closed door to the library after school and getting strange glances, I was told, much to my dismay, that the relics and archives had been moved to the Charles Sumner Museum & Archives.

 

As a consolation, a helpful staff member handed me a few old Wilson yearbooks, the earliest dating back to 1939. Riffling through the dusty pages of the 1969 yearbook, an edition of that year’s Beacon fell into my lap. As I scanned its contents, an article caught my attention. It was headlined “Sororities and Fraternities …R.I.P.”

 

The article, written by Robert Gross and Anne O’Bryan, explained that the school’s fraternities and sororities, with names like Omega Phi Delta, Beta Nu, Sigma Omega Pi and Pi Tau Pi, were seriously in decline.

 

The article explains how a newly found sense of student individuality was a leading cause of the demise in the late 60s. The authors interviewed members of these societies. Anne Gage, a junior at the time, said she felt “clean, elated and free of a burden” once she quit. “Now I’m more of an individual, not just part of the crowd,” she said.

 

Interviewed students also reported that the atmosphere of the sororities and fraternities was conformist and exclusive. One student referred to them as having “superficial, clique-like values.” The article included a student poll that showed that only 30 percent of the population would consider joining these organizations. 

 

Without a school archives on campus, it’s hard to know exactly when and why these sororities and fraternities completely disappeared from Wilson. But what I do know after being at Wilson for only a few short weeks, is that it now offers dozens of clubs that are open to everyone, from Dungeons and Dragons to climate action. Wilson has thirty sports programs with over forty competitive teams for players with all skill levels. With this many choices, there is no need to conform to have fun outside of the classroom. •