The four sororities competing for two spots at Columbia began making their cases to the Panhellenic Council last week.
Representatives from Alpha Omicron Pi, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Zeta Tau Alpha made presentations to the council and other sorority members. Standing in front of colorful PowerPoint presentations and blasting music—all four organizations’ soundtracks included Katy Perry’s “Firework” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”—they described their organizations’ histories and philanthropy, discussing how they would fit into the Columbia community.
Members of Columbia’s four existing sororities will vote on their two choices at the end of the month, and the winners will be notified Oct. 1.
The first new sorority will be formed next semester, and the second one will be formed in the spring of 2015. Alexandra Swift, CC ’15, said that right now, there “aren’t a lot of options” for students who want to join sororities.
“Having more options can’t be bad,” she said.
But while some students have expressed excitement about the prospect of new sororities, others, like Kainee Aguilar, CC ’15, are more hesitant. Aguilar said that the expansion of sororities and fraternities on campus—a new fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, is also in the works—is “not necessary,” although she added that students involved in Greek life seem to benefit from it.
“Everyone can find a place in it,” she said. “It’s not a bad thing.”
Panhellenic Council’s decision to bring two new sororities to campus comes at a time when the number of women joining sororities is at an all-time high. According to Panhellenic Association President Samantha Goldfarb, CC ’14, the average chapter size this semester is 124 students, and last semester, nearly 400 students registered for the recruitment process—about 225 of whom ended up joining a sorority.
Goldfarb said in an email that the “organizations we currently have are not fulfilling the needs of every woman desiring to join.”
“It is our hope that eventually our community can provide a Greek home to any woman who seeks it,” she said.
Sorority members who attended the presentations seemed mostly concerned with how the prospective sororities would fit into Columbia’s Greek community, especially considering the unique relationship between Columbia and Barnard. Representatives from Alpha Omicron Pi emphasized the organization’s roots at Barnard College, where it was founded, and Gamma Phi Beta members noted that they also used to have a Barnard chapter.
Additionally, the four sororities described how they would smoothly integrate into Columbia. The Panhellenic Council is planning to bring additional chapter consultants to campus and to conduct focus groups and individual evaluations to determine how the new sororities would fit into the Columbia community.
During the presentations, alumni from other universities also talked about how the four sororities enriched their college years.
“It is clear that there is a significant population of women in the University looking for the community and opportunities which come from being affiliated with a Greek organization,” Goldfarb said.
Check out a selection of the sororities' promotional materials online.
Elisa Mirkil contributed reporting.