Alpha Phi chosen to be fourth sorority

Hadley Jolley

The Alphi Phi sorority will be returning to Whitman next fall as the fourth sorority on campus, pending faculty approval this spring. Whitman’s Panhellenic Extension Committee announced the decision, part of an effort to reduce overcrowding in the existing three sororities, on Monday, Oct. 25.

In early October, representatives from Alpha Phi, along with Gamma Phi Beta and Alpha Gamma Delta, came to Whitman to tour the campus and make presentations about their sororities. The Panhellenic Extension Committee and other participants–largely sorority members–who attended these presentations then discussed their preferences. Alpha Phi was favored in part because it had previously been on campus until 1979.

“There are quite a few Alpha Phi alums in Walla Walla, and a lot of [them] went to Whitman and were Alpha Phis at Whitman thirty years ago . . . They are really going to be willing to help this chapter and get it started,” said junior Heather Smith, president of Whitman’s Panhellenic Association.

Other factors the committee considered were the strength of Alpha Phi’s local chapters at other schools, which could provide support for the new chapter, as well as how Alpha Phi functioned at small liberal arts institutions like Whitman.

According to Smith, Alpha Phi gave a compelling presentation of the sorority in terms of public relations.

“They really showed us that they know how to market themselves,” Smith said. “They know how to change their marketing techniques based on where they are; so they were really interested, more so than the other groups, in really tailoring their marketing to Whitman’s campus, which is really important when they are a new group coming to Whitman to attract Whitman students. [The] excitement they showed to work with our Panhellenic and everyone on our campus was really impressive.”

While Alpha Phi accepted the invitation to come to Whitman, there is one more step to ensure they come to campus: a faculty vote which will occur in the spring. Smith hopes that Dean of Students Chuck Cleveland will write a letter in support of the new sorority, and believes it is likely as he has already shown his support of the process.

“We’re hoping that the faculty will see that the Dean of Students supports this and that they’ll also support this,” she said. “We could have gone to the faculty for approval during any time in the process. We could have done it in the fall or last spring. But we decided to wait to the very end to show them that we’ve done all our research and we’ve done it really well.”