A new sorority is coming to the University of Minnesota for the first time in decades.
Three national chapters — Phi Mu, Chi Omega and Tri Delta — brought their case to a committee of students, alumni and staff over the weekend.
“It’s a huge deal,” said Matt Levine, program director for the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life. “It is the most exciting thing that they’ve been able to do on the sorority side in a long time. It’s going to bring a ton of energy to our community.”
The committee will make a recommendation to the University’s Panhellenic Council, which will vote on a new sorority by Tuesday night.
The addition is part of the University’s recent initiative to increase greek engagement. The University plans to add one sorority per year for the next four years, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart said.
“We haven’t done extension on our campus in over 30 years,” Levine said, “so we need this one to be very successful.”
Special considerations are being made to integrate the new chapter.
The new sorority will likely be housed in the new 17th Avenue residence hall and use a different recruitment procedure this fall.
After recruitment, there will be a hold on “snap-bidding” by other sororities in order to promote membership for the new chapter, said Julia Gross, president of the PHC. The process hasn’t been set in stone, but the sorority will have its own period to gain members.
“Basically nobody else can recruit while they’re recruiting,” she said. “So they’ll get help there.”
The University’s Greek Task Force identified overflow as a big issue in sorority houses last year.
The University has set aside up to 200 beds for greek members in the new dorm to alleviate a housing crunch and to accommodate new chapters. Rinehart said the new sorority will likely use the “incubator space.”
Phi Mu, Chi
Omega and Tri Delta used to be part of the University’s greek community but left years ago, Levine said.
Their departure was most likely because of waning interest and finances, he said. With the return to campus, chapter membership will be vital.
PHC spokeswoman Reed Mosimann said she’s interested in how the new chapter will promote itself.
“I think that will be a really strategic step in the first couple of years so they can gain that member base and really be competitive against other sororities in terms of making numbers,” she said.
The U’s appeal
The new sorority is part of a University initiative to boost greek participation though the Greek Task Force.
Caryn Schultz Korman, vice president of outreach for the University Alumni Association, said she’s never seen this level of support before, and the task force’s fall report was impressive.
“We have the growth, we have the numbers and we have the support,” she said. “It’s unique to have that kind of report coming out and to have that kind of alumni and administrators involved.”
The extension council was interested in these three chapters in particular because they hope to draw attention from alumni.
“We want alumni to come back to their homes,” Levine said. Highly involved Greek alumni tend to be good for chapters because of mentorship as well as financial support, he said.
“There’s definitely a financial piece to alumni being engaged, but honestly our focus right now is just getting alumni excited about being greek on campus again,” he said.
The University athletics department is also teaming up with greek students this month to create a Greek-Athletics Task Force to encourage participation in sporting events.
Letitia Fulkerson, national president of Chi Omega, said the University’s report contributed heavily to the chapter’s interest in coming back to campus.
“That was a lot of work,” she said. “I’ve looked at a lot of different institutional reports over the 30 years I’ve volunteered, and theirs was one of the most … put-together.”