Looking Back: The Whitman Greek System

kristencoverdale

Kappa Kappa Gamma's pledge class of 1961 poses outside of their section in Prentiss Hall during recruitment. Contributed by Kristen Coverdale
Kappa Kappa Gamma's pledge class of 1961 poses outside of their section in Prentiss Hall during recruitment. Contributed by Kristen Coverdale
For almost a century, the Greek system has played a prominent role in Whitman culture.   Providing opportunities for social connections, leadership, philanthropy and fun, every Greek has stories to tell. Here are a few glimpses of Greek life from yesteryear.

“When I was a junior at Whitman my mom passed away and it was right in the midst of finals and my sorority sent around an emergency note in everyone’s mailbox to let them know that she had passed and asked everyone to come if they could and right in the middle of finals about 30 girls came to rest her in the Tri-Cities. For me that was an amazing show of support that I hadn’t expected at all.” – Deanna Laidler, Delta Gamma ’49

“When I was a freshman, we had a pledge project. Dwight Eisenhower was campaigning for president of the United States and he came to Walla Walla. Our pledge project was to go down to the parade that was being held for Candidate Eisenhower and sell these cigarette lighters with his image engraved on it. Can you imagine asking freshmen girls to do that in this day and age? We sold ’em, we went up to total strangers [asking,] ‘would you like to buy this lighter for $5,’ and that’s how we raised some money for, I don’t know, a dance or something…” – Karen Elder Pribilsky, Kappa Kappa Gamma ’58

“I remember . . . before they bought the house on the corner, there was a driveway that went around behind the TKE house.   Some guys got the idea, well it’d be fun to divert traffic around in that very narrow [driveway]. So they got a bunch of straw, piled it across Isaacs Avenue, and then had detour signs.   This was done at about midnight when the traffic was pretty low, and as the traffic would come down around Isaacs, there were detour signs around the TKE house, and that lasted for about an hour or so until a guy in a big truck: there was no way he could get through that: he stopped and investigated the barricade and opened it up to traffic, but while it lasted it was interesting.” – Pete Reid, Phi Delta Theta ’49

“I remember one year, they got a team of Shetland ponies . . . in through the chapel, which was the only auditorium on campus, and [the Beta candidates] came running in in a chariot drawn by ponies and that created quite a sensation.” – Pete Reid, Phi Delta Theta ’49

Credit: Lerchin
Credit: Lerchin

Greek By the Numbers

Semester                 Student Body     Percentage Greek

Fall 2008                       1,394                                      34%

Fall 1999                       1,363                                      38%

Fall 1989                       1,209                                      50%