Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Fourth sorority closer to a reality

The 108 women of the Delta Gamma sorority cannot all fit into the chapter room. It also isn’t much roomier in Kappa Kappa Gamma, which has enrollment above 100, or Kappa Alpha Theta, which is in the nineties.

“It’s really difficult to coordinate events with 108 women,” said Heather Smith, president of the Whitman College Panhellenic Council.

The ideal membership is 65, according to Associate Dean of Students Barbara Maxwell.

To remedy this situation, the Panhellenic Council voted in April to create an extension committee to recruit a fourth sorority onto campus. The committee has narrowed the field down to three sororities: Gamma Phi Beta, Alpha Gamma Delta and Alpha Phi. Of the three, Alpha Phi has a history on campus, but not in the past few decades. In October, all three potential new sororities will come to campus and make a presentation; the final selection will be based on that campus visit. Gamma Phi Beta comes on Oct. 5, Alpha Gamma Delta on Oct. 7 and Alpha Phi on Oct. 14. All presentations will be held in Olin 130 at 4:00 p.m and are open to the Whitman community.

However, the selection process is not a guaranteed success. At least one of the three sororities has to agree to come to campus; the Panhellenic Council has to like at least one enough to bring them here; and Whitman College has to approve the fourth sorority, which includes having the faculty vote to recognize the new sorority.

Lizzy Schiller, vice president of recruitment, hopes that those challenges can be overcome to create more manageable chapters.

“Due to the fact that DG and Kappa are both above their chapters’ actual limits, providing a fourth could really be beneficial to bringing chapter numbers down to a more manageable number for all chapters, and possibly provide a more equal balance of girls within the four,” she said.

The large sizes have been noticed by other people in the sororities as well.

“The fourth sorority would bring the numbers down, so each year during recruitment instead of taking 28 or 30 new members we’d only take 20,” said sophomore Delta Gamma Tate Head. “So it’s not necessarily to make Whitman more of a Greek school, it’s just to make it so that the sororities that are   here don’t have as many members.”

Smith echoed that assessment, saying that the fourth sorority would lead to all sororities limiting their recruitment numbers to about 20 per year.

According to Maxwell, recruitment remained fairly consistent this year. About 100 women signed up and about 80 women pledged. Each sorority was limited to giving out 28 bids. However, that still surpasses the ideal number of new recruits.

“It’s the rock and the hard place right now, because we really do try to give as many people as are interested in the Greek system an opportunity to be a part of one of the fraternities or sororities, which is why we have memberships over 100 in two of our sororities,” said Maxwell. “But there’s also a point when you reach a certain size and you begin to ask yourself   ‘Is this person getting the same quality of membership [as] if our group only had 65 or 70 people?'”

The three potential sororities were chosen by looking for groups with both a strong national presence and numerous local alumni in order to give the new sorority the greatest chance of success.

Though the national sororities have different procedures in place to start a new sorority, they all have a few steps in common. The new sorority would recruit at a different time than the three established sororities for the first year, which would be in 2011 if the process is successful. However, members would not move into section until a year later. Alice section in Prentiss Hall, which used to house the Delta Delta Delta sorority, would become the new sorority section a year later.

“It’s a great leadership opportunity for upperclassmen who wanted to get involved in the Greek system but just haven’t. I really think that a lot of girls will be interested,” said Smith.

However, a new sorority somewhat lacks what Head says brought her into the Greek system in the first place: a group of current members that she bonded with during recruitment, as well as the friendships she formed with the other women who rushed. Head, however, believes that this aspect can be overcome.

“I know that a big part of the reason I chose DG was because of the people already a part of it, but it’s also all the people you’re joining with too, so if there was a really good group of people who were thinking of joining that sorority, I think that would be great,” she said.

Another possible problem with a new sorority, according to Schiller, is that it might upset the numerical balance between sororities. However, she does not believe this is likely.

“With a fourth sorority at Whitman, this means less girls dispersed between the four sororities, but I don’t think that’s anything to be too worried about. Having a fourth sorority could actually encourage more women to go through recruitment,” said Schiller.

Maxwell, who has assisted with bringing a new sorority to Washington State University, says that the success of the possible new sorority depends on support from the current Greek system.

“When a new fraternity or sorority comes on campus, it’s really a requirement for the Greek system to recruit on behalf of that organization,” she said.

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