February 6, 2011

Rechartered Sorority to Recruit in Fall

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Correction Appended

After reviewing applications from five national chapters, the Panhellenic Council announced Monday that Phi Sigma Sigma will be rechartered and become the 12th Cornell sorority next fall.

The Panhellenic Extension Committee, which was responsible for the selection process, unanimously supported Phi Sigma Sigma.

Assistant Dean of Students Laura Sanders, Panhellenic advisor, explained that sorority overcrowding was an important reason for adding a new chapter to the Cornell Panhellenic community.

According to Maricela Perryman ’12, former vice president of Panhellenic recruitment, more than 700 women rushed Cornell’s 11 sororities this January and 535 accepted bids — an average of more than 48 new members per sorority.

Larger “new member classes” in past years have prevented women from forming particularly close bonds within member classes, Sanders said.

“It’s not about just having a few close friends — you want to get to know everyone,” she said, adding that smaller groups will allow for a more “impactful and meaningful sorority experience.”

Phi Sigma Sigma will begin recruiting a core group of members in the fall, drawing in part from the new sorority interest group on campus. The sorority will participate in formal recruitment in Jan. 2012.

Nearby chapters of Phi Sigma Sigma, including one at Syracuse University, will provide support for the new Cornell chapter, Sanders said. The sorority’s national organization will also send an advisor to live in Ithaca and to assist the new members.

Sanders said she hoped the addition of another chapter would “breathe new life” into Cornell’s Greek community “and perhaps raise the bar” by encouraging other sororities to reinstate close relationships with their national organizations.

In light of the University’s new recognition policy forbidding alcohol, drugs and hazing from recruitment and new member education, Sanders said the presence of a new sorority might also encourage other chapters on campus to become more creative about alcohol-free recruitment techniques.

“Having a group [bound by the new policy] from the get-go is going to strengthen all the chapters going forward,” she said.

Phi Sigma Sigma had a chapter at Cornell that left the University in 1969, a departure Sanders speculated may have been due to a generally negative view of Greek life at the time. She said supportive Cornell alumnae from the chapter’s earlier years would be an asset to its reestablishment.

According to Panhellenic representatives, a strong network of local alumnae, as well as national support, made the sorority stand out from the other candidates.

Michelle Ardern, executive director of Phi Sigma Sigma, said the Cornell community has been welcoming and friendly, and her organization is prepared to fit well into the community.

“We feel like we’re joining a group of friends,” Ardern said. “The other sororities have been so welcoming.”

Phi Sigma Sigma will send a recruitment team to speak with Cornell students interested in joining, beginning with the new sorority interest group members, whom Ardern called “a wonderful group of women.”

Ardern also expressed confidence that her organization would thrive under the new recognition policy, which she said was “completely in line with our national organization.”

Taylor Daugherty ’12, executive vice president of the Cornell Panellenic Council, said Cornell’s Greek community stands to benefit from the presence of the new sorority.

“Phi Sigma Sigma has an energy and passion that seemed truly genuine. They demonstrated an enthusiasm and eagerness to assimilate into our unique environment,” Daugherty said. “I think they have the potential to revitalize our Panhellenic community by bringing their fresh perspective and ideas to our campus.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that six national organizations submitted applications to Cornell Panhellenic Council for colonization. In fact, only five did. The Sun regrets the error.

Original Author: Eliza LaJoie