February 9, 2011

It’s All Greek to Me: Welcoming the New Sorority

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We first noticed that there was a void in the Greek system when countless women were not given a bid to one of Cornell’s 11 sorority chapters during formal sorority recruitment in 2010.  The following semester, a group of non-affiliated women banded together to form a sorority interest group. It was obvious that women wanted to go Greek, but the limited number of sororities on campus led many fantastic ladies to feel excluded from a system that values inclusivity and sisterhood. We realized the limitations of only 11 sororities on campus, and so Panhellenic has recently decided to open the Greek community at Cornell to another chapter.

After months of exploration committees, planning meetings, official presentations, and occasional debates, the Cornell Greek community finally approved Phi Sigma Sigma — known nationally as “Phi Sig” — to recolonize their Beta Xi chapter on Cornell’s campus. We chose Phi Sigma Sigma over the other five sororities that sent official extension packets because of their strong national reputation, especially in the Northeast; their presence at surrounding colleges and universities, including Syracuse University and University of Rochester; and their obvious desire to succeed on Cornell’s campus. Phi Sig values diversity and inclusion, and they foster individuality in each of their members. Their national representatives are amazing, their leadership programs are outstanding and their national resources are excellent. Additionally, Phi Sigma Sigma sent a national representative to observe every round of Cornell’s formal recruitment, further showing their dedication to successful recolonization on the Hill. Because of their values and desire to succeed here at Cornell, Phi Sig will fit perfectly in Cornell’s Greek community.

Phi Sigma Sigma will become an officially recognized chapter at Cornell in the fall of 2011. Phi Sig’s national representatives will sporadically visit campus this spring semester to begin organizing for recolonization and then will officially begin recruiting women in fall 2011.  Though the recruitment events are not yet set in stone, national representatives and college women from surrounding schools will come to campus to recruit women who they believe will uphold Phi Sigma Sigma’s values and be leaders in the new chapter.  Any non-affiliated woman in sophomore standing or above will be eligible to go through the recruitment process. Though recruitment and founding a new chapter may be time intensive — especially for overcommitted Cornell students — founding a new sorority is going to be incredibly rewarding for the women who choose to go through it.

But more than just logistics and programming, successful colonization requires support from the Greek community and the campus at large. A new sorority is an unknown entity, so other sororities may think of Phi Sig as a threat or liability to our established chapters on campus.  Sororities should remember that our agreement on extending an offer to Phi Sigma Sigma was unanimous, and in turn, our chapters’ support for their colonization should also be unanimous.  Phi Sig is a sisterhood founded on many of the principles that every sorority shares, such as scholarship, leadership and friendship. To respect the values of the new sorority and of our own sororities, we need to realize that the women who will join Phi Sig are exactly like us, trying to uphold their values and have a fulfilling college experience while figuring out their own place in the world. It is up to the ladies in the 11 current sorority chapters to support Phi Sig in the upcoming semesters, not knock them down.

As a Greek community and as a University, we have to work together to welcome Phi Sig to campus next year. Though Panhellenic and Phi Sigma Sigma nationals will be programming events for next fall, the rest of the Greek community needs to do its part in order to make Phi Sig a success at Cornell. Invite the new sorority to take part in your philanthropy event. Invite their women over for a barbecue. Go ice-skating with Phi Sig at Lynah. Show Phi Sigma Sigma that you value them as much as chapters that have been established on campus, and our efforts to establish Phi Sig’s Beta Xi chapter will be an overwhelming success.

After a year of working towards extension, Panhellenic is incredibly excited to have a new sorority on campus. Phi Sigma Sigma will be an amazing addition to our Greek system, bringing diversity and inclusion to our sorority community.

Emily Cusick, the Panhellenic vice president for recruitment, publicity and extension, is a junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and can be reached at egc43@cornell.edu. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.

Original Author: Emily Cusick