Plans for ninth sorority tabled due to objections
By Michelle Deloison Baum
Published on Friday, September 28, 2012
Plans for establishing a new sorority on campus have been tabled, even though Panhellenic Council was previously considering adding a new house, according to Panhell President Sarah Wildes ’13. Sorority presidents hold different opinions on whether a new sorority would benefit campus life and whether it should be a national or local sorority, Wildes said.
Increasing Greek affiliation prompted Panhell to explore the possibility of bringing a ninth sorority, Delta Zeta, to campus. Panhell is focusing on reforming the Greek system before it considers adding a new chapter, Wildes said.
“There has been a very negative light cast on the Greek community, so under that very critical lens we need to focus on really reforming the current institutions we have rather than bringing new ones,” Wildes said.
There is also not a group of unaffiliated women interested in forming a new sorority, she said.
Hannah Decker ’13, president of Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority, said she would be reluctant to bring a new sorority into a flawed Greek system.
“There is a part of me that thinks that expanding a system that we know is flawed is a bad idea and that we should work to fix the problems that already exist within it and allow room for other systems to thrive,” she said.
Heather Beatty ’13, president of Sigma Delta sorority, said she was concerned that adding another sorority would make the Greek scene even more dominant on campus.
The College should focus on supporting unaffiliated students, she said.
“Did you see the banner in Collis, ‘You are more than your letters?’” she said. “That really speaks to the need for variety.”
Camilla Rothenberg ’13, president of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority said she thinks, however, that a new sorority would help combat the disparity in numbers between fraternities and sororities.
“There are 15 frats and eight sororities,” Rothenberg said. “It’s always nice to add another group for women.”
A new sorority could be a place for women to define their own house, according to Lauren Salgueiro ’15.
“Having a new sorority with a clean slate encourages diverse groups of people to join it because there’s no stereotype,” Salguerio said.
A new sorority could also alleviate pressure during rush, according to Alison Pierce ’15, who recently completed the process. Many people were disappointed during rush and a new sorority could provide more options, she said.
Only 68 percent of women participating in this fall’s formal rush process received a bid, down from 75 percent last year and 78 percent in 2010 — the lowest proportion since 2009, when only 67 percent of women received a bid.
Beatty said she is not sure that an additional sorority would diffuse any anxiety over rush, as it would add another house party to prospective members’ already-busy rush schedule. Concerns also exist that a new sorority would make it even harder for some houses to reach their pledge class quotas, she said, adding that sororities struggling to fill their membership quotas should focus on increasing their numbers before another sorority is discussed.
Rothenberg said she thinks that there are already sufficient mechanisms — including continual open bidding and shake-out processes — in place for houses that are having trouble reaching quotas.
“I think that Panhell is doing all they can so that if there was a new sorority on campus, it wouldn’t be depleting the other sororities,” Rothenberg said.
The current pledge class quota is set at 35, already a fairly high number, according to Wildes. A new sorority could make pledge classes smaller, allowing sisters to get to know each other better, Decker said.
If a new sorority were brought to campus, the presidents of the Panhell sororities would vote on whether it would be local or national, according to Wildes.
As president of a local sorority, Decker said she believes that an additional local sorority would be more beneficial than a national sorority.
“If another sorority is going to come, it should be a local because then you can add another female-dominated open space, whereas another national is just another Greek organization,” Decker said.
A sorority that is not affiliated with a national organization would be more difficult to start, but there is no longer a ban on bringing new local sororities to campus, Wildes said.
“Logistically, it’s a lot harder to set up a local because there is no infrastructure and no history behind it,” she said.
Both Sigma Delt and EKT were originally founded as chapters of national sororities before becoming local, while KDE was founded as a local house in 1993.