After meeting with their national delegates, the PanHellenic Association (PHA) chapters voted to not go forward with bringing a new sorority to Capital University.
Last spring, a handful of students came to David Gonzalez, assistant director of Student Community and Engagement, and were interested in bringing another sorority to campus because they didn’t feel as if they had found their “home” in any of the sororities already here.
It was not an easy decision to even consider bringing another sorority to campus.
“Since we are part of the National PanHellenic Council, that means we have to go through this big, long, drawn-out process,” said Alora Conner, president of PHA at Capital. “The students initiated the idea, and Shideh Javan, [Fraternity and Sorority Life intern], Dr. Jody Fournier, [associate provost], and the search committee did a whole bunch of research and compared the pros and cons of bringing a new organization.”
Since that time, PHA, which is comprised of Alpha Sigma Alpha, Delta Phi Epsilon, Phi Sigma Sigma, and Pi Phi Epsilon, reached out to the National PanHellenic Council with an attempt to bring another sorority to Capital University.
Alora and others presented some of the said research compiled by Javan, Fournier, and the research committee at the Exploratory Committee Community Presentation Monday, March 2, 2015. Notable research includes: 516 students or 22 percent of Capital’s undergraduate population are a member of a fraternity or sorority (236 men – 280 women), PHA has grown 10.08 percent over the past three years, and 145 women were registered for formal recruitment this past fall semester.
With fraternity and sorority membership increasing at Capital, their capacity is beginning to maximize. Some sororities have upwards of 60 or 70 females. With the rapid increase in membership over the past three years, Capital has the availability for another sorority.
After the community presentation, the national sororities had two weeks to reach out to their national delegates and vote at the weekly PHA meeting as to whether or not to continue in the process of bringing a sorority to Capital. Pi Phi Epsilon would not have a vote, because they are a local sorority and are not nationally established.
After two weeks, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Delta Phi Epsilon, and Phi Sigma Sigma all voted no to continue the exploratory process.
David Gonzalez, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, when asked why it was a unanimous no, said, “I think the main reason that they said no is we are only in year three or four of this immense growth, and the national organizations don’t want to jump the “gun.”
“I do think, based on the numbers and trends that were presented, can we support another organization? Yes, but is right now the best time for the community? Maybe not,” Gonzalez said.
“Three of our [national] organizations affiliated from local sororities,” Gonzalez said. “They are still very much getting accustomed to national sorority life. I think we are all there, but there is still more room for growth, in a good way.”
After the vote was made, Alora Conner noted that the issue will most likely be brought up in a year or two.
When asked about the reality and possibility of a successful vote in the future, Conner said, “I think it’s a possibility, because our numbers as a school are growing each year, so it not only will give our current chapters room to keep growing and retain [membership], but, with more students, there will be more involvement.”
“Then, we will be able to get another chapter on campus where we will have the numbers and the students to support that,” Conner said. “That way we won’t have four sororities with 70 members and then that odd one out with 15. When we have more students, we are going to be able to support a whole new chapter.”
For the time being, PHA will not be looking into bringing another sorority to Capital’s campus, but, Sam Metcalf, president of the InterFraternity Council, said “It’s unfortunate to see the process of sorority expansion come to a stop right now…I’m very eager for the future. I think it’s important to trust…that all of Capital’s national sororities’ headquarters advised them to vote no on expansion right now.”
“They know more than we do, and they are able to pinpoint the success or failure a new sorority would bring to campus right now…I definitely think sorority expansion will be an item on our radar again in the very near future,” Metcalf said.
The success of fraternities and sororities does not go unknown. Students involved in either of the two types of organizations have higher chances of graduation and better job prospects after graduation. Gonzalez iterates that now is a great time to be part of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Capital because membership involvement is growing and grade point averages are also on the rise.
For anyone who still feels that they haven’t been able to find their spot in school, Conner gives the advice to go out of your comfort zone and get out of your dorm room, because there are experiences and things to learn.
“There is a reason why someone chooses to come to Capital, and it’s that sense of community,” Gonzalez said. “Yes, some students come here for great scholarship opportunities, but there is some sense of community. If you haven’t found your home, step out of your comfort zone [and] challenge yourself, [because] this is a great time in your life to do it.”