Following the record success of fall recruitment participation, the University of La Verne’s College Panhellenic Association, governing body of sororities on campus, unanimously decided to tackle expansion by welcoming national organizations Alpha Omicron Pi and Phi Mu to campus to be interviewed this spring.
Chip West, director of student life and Greek advisor on campus, said the ongoing strength of ULV’s Greek system would allow for one organization to be integrated into the current sisterhood mix.
“In the last 10 years, Iota Delta, Sigma Kappa and Phi Sigma Sigma have been consistently strong,” West said. “This past year, we had a large group of women who did not join one of the sororities show interest in adding a new organization. Panhellenic saw that there was both interest and a need to add another organization to our community, so I applaud them for having the courage to move forward and expand.”
Once formal voting was complete, the Expansion Committee – consisting of Valerie Shather, CPA president; Nancy Reyes, Iota Delta president; Felirose Tamparong, 2005 Phi Sigma Sigma president; Janah Valenzuela, 2005 Sigma Kappa president; Katie Aimone, graduate assistant for Greek life; and West – sent out packets of information to the National Panhellenic Conference highlighting important aspects of sorority life.
The NPC, in turn, informed 24 national organizations of the University’s expansion plans.
West said he only expected about four organizations to respond, as 15 other college campuses were expanding at the same time, but was surprised to instead receive six responses from such prestigious organizations as Sigma Sigma Sigma, Alpha Xi Delta, Theta Phi Alpha and Alpha Sigma Tau, along with Alpha Omicron Pi and Phi Mu.
“It is important to realize that hundreds of campuses expand their Greek systems each year,” West said. “National sororities have to be careful not to over-expand their resources and time to too many campuses because they want to make sure they adequately support their current chapters.”
West also said the addition of sorority chapters on campus was rare, occurring only about once every 10 years.
Alpha Omicron Pi and Phi Mu stood out among the other interested organizations in terms of offering plenty of academic and community involvement, as well as a fresh approach to Greek life, West added.
“We wanted a group that would bring a strong commitment to diversity and leadership, strong local alumnae support and possible chapters in the area, strong history of service and philanthropy programs and a strong commitment to academics and student learning,” West said.
“Both of these organizations could do that and that is why both have been asked to come to our campus and present to us,” he added.
The interview process will be conducted by the Expansion Committee, along with Sigma Kappa Adviser Aubrye Harris, Phi Sigma Sigma Adviser Wendy Lau, Iota Delta Adviser Laura Kiralla, Associate Dean of Student Affairs Ruby Montaño-Cordova and Dean of Student Affairs Loretta Rahmani.
The committee will help decide which organization will most benefit the current Greek system.
Shather said it was imperative that the new organization offer women a unique Greek experience through various altruistic outlets, while simultaneously living up to the achievements of the already established sororities on campus.
“I hope the new sorority is able to achieve the success that the three current sororities have had over the years through strong member bases, strong community involvement and positive reputations on campus and in the surrounding communities,” Shather said.
Samantha Farless, a sophomore communications major and a member of Phi Sigma Sigma, said she supported the integration of a new chapter into Greek life as a means of establishing an organization free of preconceived notions.
“It’s a good idea because by the third week of freshmen year, stereotypes have already been attached to all of the sororities,” Farless said. “All of them actually have a variety of girls, but still have their own stereotypes attached to them.”
Virginia Ng, a junior biology major, Iota Delta member and vice president of CPA, also said the new sorority would open doors to a larger array of women.
“Some girls who go through rush just don’t feel like they fit into any of the three sororities that we already have on campus,” Ng said. “By having another sorority on campus, it’ll allow these girls to finally find a place in which they feel comfortable.”
But West said stereotypical generalizations were not a major issue and that a new organization was merely being installed to allow interested women another chance for educational, societal and cultural enrichment through the bond of sisterhood.
“The more opportunities we can create for students to be actively engaged in positive co-curricular experiences, the more it helps to create a positive collegiate experience,” West said.
The Office of Student Life is currently looking for women interested in joining the new organization. For more information, call West at Ext. 4480.
Kady Bell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.