Greeks consider fourth sorority

Mariko Helm

A long time ago, in a world not unlike our own, Whitman campus boasted four sororities instead of three. Now, Whitman College’s greek life is considering reinstalling a fourth sorority to the current triumvirate.

The fourth sorority was called TriDelta, also known as Delta Delta Delta, but the chapter was closed in May 2005 due to low membership. The chapter had been struggling with membership issues for at least twenty years. The talk regarding a potential re-instatement is, at this point, only preliminary and it is uncertain whether the chosen sorority will, again, be TriDelta.

Interest in sororities has increased over the past few years with the most recent pledge classes of 2011 and 2012 numbering in the mid to high-twenties whereas the earlier pledge classes were in the lower twenties. Panhellenic Council, the organization that oversees the sororities, grows more concerned about the larger sizes and how it may affect members’ abilities to get to know one another. Barbara Maxwell, Associate Dean of Students, is also heavily involved in this concern and has been mulling over the issue for about a year now.

“Currently the three sororities on campus are very large and at some point, the quality of the experience is diminished,” said Maxwell.

If Whitman College decides to add another sorority, there are further measures that must be taken in terms of the logistics. The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the governing organization for the 26 NPC sororities, has very specific and tedious requirements on the procedure for adding another group to an already existing sorority system.

Whitman College’s Panhellenic Council is mandated to consult the administration regarding this issue, and if the administration passes this proposal, the Panhellenic will need to vote to open the campus for expansion.
Panhellenic is directed to support and assist the ‘colony’, the term used for a new chapter, until it is completed. In terms of gaining members, promotion plays a large part in the process. Fliers, talks, and posters are crucial in spreading the word and soliciting interest. The other sororities are also to give the colony a list of unaffiliated women who registered for sorority recruitment, but didn’t pledge, so that the colony can contact them.

“I think we already have a pretty big greek system relative to the size of the school,” said sophomore Jojo Roberts. “I would worry that the other sororities would have trouble recruiting as many people if there was another sorority to compete with, but I don’t think that it would affect me personally.”

The presidents of the sororities are rather pleased with the idea.

“All three of the sororities on campus are already so packed, we barely fit in our chapter rooms,” said junior Jacqueline Kamm, president of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. “Having a fourth sorority would provide another option for women interested in going through recruitment and would make sorority life at Whitman even stronger.”

As of now, the addition of a new sorority is an objective that the council set for itself during the January 2007 Greek Leaders Training meeting. The next Greek Leaders Training meeting is coming up on January 2009, and so a decision may be made. It will be interesting to see what is in store for the sorority life on Whitman campus.