Committee to choose fourth, fifth sororities by end of March
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 02:03
The sorority extension committee will choose two new sororities at the end of this month to join the Tufts Greek community, due to growing recruitment numbers in Tufts’ three current sororities.
The fourth sorority will colonize at Tufts this fall, while the fifth could join as early as fall 2014, according to Panhellenic Council (PhC) President Carolyn Pruitt.
The extension committee, headed by Director of Programming for the Panhellenic Council Alexandra Horvitz and comprised of two undergraduate members, one alumnus from each sorority, Pruitt and Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Su McGlone, will issue its recommendations for the new sororities to the PhC today after having seen proposals from Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Alpha Gamma Delta and Kappa Kappa Gamma, Pruitt said.
She said that the extension process began last year with an announcement sent out to the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), which consists of 26 different national sororities, including the three already at Tufts — Alpha Omicron Pi (AOPi), Alpha Phi and Chi Omega. The 10 NPC sororities that applied were then narrowed down to the four sororities that presented both last week and this week.
“We reviewed all of the applications as they came in and selected the best ones, we thought, to visit Tufts,” Pruitt, a senior, said.
The extension committee plans to give the PhC its recommendation today, and then the PhC executive board will make a decision on March 26, McGlone said.
The extension committee is the result of last year’s exploratory committee, which formally recognized the marked female interest in Greek life, according to Pruitt.
“We set up an exploratory committee last year and did a lot of research into the numbers of girls who registered for recruitment and the number of girls being placed into sororities at the end of the week,” she said. “We found the number had been growing substantially in the last few years.”
Pruitt said that in addition to the increase in the size of incoming pledge classes, she noted an increase in women leaving during the recruitment process.
According to McGlone, 80 women dropped out of the recruitment process last year. There has been a dramatic increase in sorority class sizes over recent years, which now include a total of 380 members, meaning an average chapter size of 127 women, she said.
“We were reaching a point that our sororities on campus, given the size of the student body, were getting to the maximum,” Pruitt said. “We wanted to incorporate all of this increased interest without having to stress the current chapters beyond their capacity.”
Pruitt explained that increasing the number of sorority options would meet the various needs of the Greek community at Tufts.
Sorority leaders cited the promise to connect more personally with smaller recruitment classes and a wider diversity among Greek life options as reasons for adding the new sororities.
“It’s getting to the point where new member classes are so huge, and we want to get them a little bit smaller so we can really get to know each other because that’s the point of being in a sorority,” AOPi President Sarah Gannon said.
Alpha Phi President Madeline Kern also expressed concerns with the ability to incorporate the growing new member classes.
“While we love every single one of our new members, it’s very hard to see that they get to know each other and bond appropriately when there are so many of them,” Kern, a junior, said. “Having another sorority on campus would decrease the size of new member classes and help even it out.”
Chi Omega President Nina Denison explained the issue of potential members dropping out of recruitment and how the search committees are trying to find a good option for Tufts’ Greek life that broadens its horizons while staying true to the university’s outlook.
“We’re hoping to find a group whose core values fit with Tufts but is different enough from the three sororities already here so that it’s offering something else to those women who are seeking it,” Denison, a junior, said.
But Denison noted that the transition will not necessarily be easy.
“It was kind of a split reaction initially. A lot of us were very excited, and some people were a little nervous because going from three to five is a pretty big change in the number of sororities we have,” she said.
The newest sorority will likely appeal to a different group of people, who will be able to establish their own identity as a sorority, according to Denison.
Gannon, a junior, said that finding an appeal to the common Tufts student and specific aspects of the organizations that could benefit the Tufts Greek community are two of the extension committee’s main goals.
“Sometimes that is in the form of their philanthropy, others could be their goals, and whether they align with university values,” she said.
The fourth sorority, after being selected, will begin a special recruitment process aided by members of its national branch in the fall semester to develop its first class, while the recommendation for the fifth is meant as preparation for when the community calls for it, Kern explained.