March 9, 2010

Panhellenic Council Considers Bringing Twelfth Chapter to Campus

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The members of a new sorority interest group on campus face a long and uncertain wait as the Panhellenic Council’s exploratory extension committee researches the possible effects of adding a new chapter on the Greek community.  According to Alexandra Hildreth ’11, vice president of recruitment, publicity and extension, there will be a vote on the issue within the next three months.

“We want to make the most informed decision possible,” Hildreth said, adding that for the pre-existing Greek community, “[extension] could mean more competition and could mean … losing members.”

Hildreth also said that although the University currently has fewer sororities than fraternities, roughly the same number of women and men — about 1,500 each — are members of Greek organizations, and that the discrepancy is due to the larger size of sorority pledge classes.

According to Panhellic president Nora Allen ’11, Cornell’s Greek community is healthy. She stated that all chapters are “near or over total.” Allen expressed hope that if a new group actually did form at Cornell — by 2011, after all the procedures — “the community would be in an even better place to open to a new chapter.”

However, she noted that this new chapter will not necessarily be Delta Phi Epsilon, the chapter the interest group would like to see on campus. If Panhel decides to expand its membership, it will give all sororities not currently represented at Cornell the chance to apply.

Delta Phi Epsilon previously had a chapter established at Cornell but left campus in 2005. Nicole DeFeo, executive director of Delta Phi Epsilon, emphasized only that the organization will abide by the procedures of the National Panhellenic Council.

Hildreth said problems recruiting might be a concern for a new chapter on campus. In the spring of 2004, Delta Phi Epsilon had sixteen members, while most other sororities had an average of about forty.

Molly McMahon ’12, the interest group’s leader, remained optimistic. She said the group is growing, citing about forty “die-hard” members and a total of about fifty women altogether. She stated that a new sorority would particularly help women who “just didn’t feel a fit” with one of the existing organizations, in addition to transfer students such as herself and women who were not placed during rush.

“I feel a lot of support from the other sororities,” she said, and also noted encouragement from alumnae. McMahon stressed that if Panhel did extend recognition to a new chapter but Delta Phi Epsilon was not the organization brought to campus, many of the members of the interest group would seek to join the new sorority.

“If it’s not [Delta Phi Epsilon], I would encourage them to go out for it,” she said. As a transfer and member of Delta Phi Epsilon at Monmouth University, McMahon said she would not be eligible to join another organization.

Despite all the uncertainty, she emphasized the feeling of community that has already formed among the group, which plans to seek activities recognition and to continue philanthropic and outreach work on campus.

“As far as I’m concerned, these girls are my sisters already,” McMahon said. “I know everybody says this, but we really are about sisterhood and unity … and fun, too.”

Original Author: Eliza LaJoie