February 21, 2011

Women Weigh MGLC and Panhel Options

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Eliana Paradis ’13 is unmistakably Latina. She speaks Spanish at home, and here at Cornell, the clang of timbales resound from the speakers of her room.Last winter, she decided to join a sorority. She had the opportunity to join one of the four Multicultural Greek Letter Council sororities on campus geared specifically toward Latina culture, but instead, she chose to join a Panhellenic sorority that houses less than five women of color.“I don’t want to isolate myself just because I am Spanish,” she said.The class of 2014 was one of the most racially diverse in years, with 33 percent of students identifying themselves as students of color, according to the University.In light of the more than 700 women who participated in Panhellenic recruitment this year and the corresponding need for a new sorority on campus, more women of color face the same choice as Paradis: to join a traditionally less diverse Panhellenic sorority or a MGLC sorority devoted to a specific ethnic culture.Hannah Geiser ’13, president of Panhellenic sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, said Panhellenic sororities have on average eight to 10 women of color in every new member class, which typically consists of 40 to 50 women. In recent years, however, she said she has noticed a slight increase in women of color.The size of MGLC sororities pale in comparison to Panhellenic ones. While the 11 Panhellenic sororities have around 200 members each, the six MGLC sororities have a combined total of 63 members, according to MGLC President Andrew Martinez ’11.  Jackie Carvajal ’13, president of Sigma Lambda Upsilon, an MGLC sorority focused on Latina culture, said membership in her organization has remained small even with the rise in women of color on campus.  “We value quality over quantity,” she said. Her sorority has seven members, three of whom attend Ithaca College.Laura Sanders, assistant dean of students and Panhellenic advisor, explained that in many cases, women of color choose one type of sorority over another based on personal preference.However, from interviews with various sorority members on campus, there seems to be other factors –– most notably the circle of friends a woman is exposed to during her first semester of school.Alexis Rodriguez ’12, a member of the MGLC sorority Lambda Theta Alpha, cites her group of freshman-year friends as a major factor in how she rushed. Specifically, she refers to the pre-freshman summer program in which she participated as her inspiration for joining Lambda Theta Alpha.“[Prefreshman Summer Program] was full of minorities and a lot of them were Greek,” she said. Many of the counselors in the program were members of MGLC fraternities and sororities and exposed her to their different organizations, Rodriguez added.Paradis did not participate in PSP. Instead, she said her circle of friends freshman year consisted of women who planned to rush Panhellenic sororities. She explained that she was familiar with the large sorority houses on North campus and their recognizable Greek letter bags, and therefore saw only one way to go.“I didn’t know much about MGLC organizations. I never received e-mails or anything like that,” she said.Recruitment for MGLC sororities differ significantly from those of Panhellenic sororities, according to Saunders. Firstly, there is no formal MGLC recruitment week held by the University.Furthermore, Carvajal said that given the small size of MGLC organizations, recruitment is more personal.Paradis said that even if she had known more about MGLC sororities, she probably would not have joined any due to rumors surrounding the MGLC new member period.  According to Caravajal, misinformed gossip and posts on websites such as CollegeACB have led students to think that MGLC sororities haze their new members.“Every Greek organization — Panhel or MGLC — has a pledge process,” Caravajal said.She said the negative perception of their new member period has been detrimental because it deters people from learning about MGLC organizations.

Original Author: Andrew Boryga