April 22, 2014

Panhel: New Sorority Will Increase Greek Involvement

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Members of the Cornell Panhellenic Association say that Phi Mu — announced in February as Cornell’s newest and 13th sorority — will provide more opportunities for women once it arrives on campus.

Katie Billotti, a national Phi Mu representative, said the sorority applied for colonization because they were “impressed by the academic reputation of Cornell” as well as “the size and strength of the panhellenic community at Cornell.”

Billotti said Phi Mu will hold a 10-day recruitment process at the University in September, following a campus marketing campaign held by Phi Mu representatives.

The Cornell Panhellenic Association decided to invite the sorority after seeing record numbers of women participating in formal recruitment, increasing new member class sizes and an uptake in women not receiving bids, according to Panhel President Erika Whitestone ’15.

Whitstone said that adding a new sorority will likely allow more girls to join houses.

“There are more opportunities for women to join the Greek system with the 13th chapter,” she said.“We are getting prepared for the possible influx of women who want to go Greek.”

Anne Pincott ’15, president of Phi Sigma Sigma, said she is unsure about how Panhel’s pledge class quota will be affected, based on experiences with her own chapter.

“When Phi Sigma Sigma was added, quota didn’t go down, it actually went up a little bit,” Pincott said. “Hopefully more girls will be able to and want to join houses.”

According to Billotti, Phi Mu is looking for unaffiliated sophomores, juniors and seniors who are interested in the founding member experience. Potential new members will register for the recruitment process, be interviewed by Phi Mu representatives, and attend at least one recruitment event to become a founding member candidate.

“We are looking for women with high academic standards, who are involved in other organizations on campus and within the greater community,” Billotti said.

Billotti also said joining a new chapter can provide additional leadership opportunities.

“Phi Mu looks for women with leadership experience who are willing to step up into new leadership roles to assist in laying a solid foundation for our new chapter on Cornell’s campus,” Billotti said.

Whitestone said Phi Mu will aim to fill 80 percent of their total desired house size in their upcoming pledge class, but said that recruiting that number is not mandatory.

Following recruitment, new members of Phi Mu will complete a four week-long new member program concluding with a ceremony, which will be attended by members of Phi Mu’s National organization, Billotti said.

After the chapter’s installation, Panhel and Phi Mu nationals will work together to aid the new chapter in structuring its recruitment, bylaws and traditions, Whitestone said.

“[Panhel has] started a committee to give Phi Mu all the information they will need to start a successful chapter,” Whitestone said.

Whitestone said the Panhel community has been “very welcoming” to Phi Mu.

“You may see women on campus wearing their Panhellenic shirts with all the chapters including Phi Mu on the back,” Whitestone said.

Whitestones also said she would “love to see chapters partnering with Phi Mu” to aid them in beginning to maintain their finances and plan events.

“It would also be amazing to see chapters partner for philanthropy events and have sorority-sorority mixers,” Whitestone said.

She added Phi Mu representatives are still deciding what location they will use during formal recruitment. The sorority will accept the same number of women as the other Panhel chapters — set by quota — during spring rush.

“We are adjusting the [rush] schedule in order to accommodate a 13th chapter, Whitestone said.

Although the quota number for each sorority is dependent on the number of women who go through recruitment, Amanda Yellen ’17 said she hopes the addition of another sorority will help reduce new member class sizes.

“With so few sororities on campus, this year’s sorority pledge classes were so big and it made it harder to get to know everyone in the new member class. I’m excited for a new sorority on campus because hopefully it will decrease the new pledge class sizes and encourage freshmen to rush,” she said.

Nina Koester ’17 said she hopes adding a new sorority will allow more students to have “the chance to go Greek.”

“I knew girls in my Rho Gamma group who didn’t get a bid during rush and it really didn’t seem right to me that they went through the whole process but then didn’t get to be in a sorority,” she said.

Housing plans will be overseen by Darlene Reyes, executive director of Phi Mu, and financing for the housing project will be secured by Phi Mu’s National Housing Corporation, according to Billetti.

“The process of converting a house to a sorority home will depend on the renovations, if any, that the house requires. It could be as simple as painting and furnishing the home or could require some more construction,” Whitestone said.