By Campbell North ’17
During the fall of 2017 women on Trinity’s campus will have the opportunity to rush the chapters of two newly-established sororities on campus. At least one, but possibly both, will have national affiliation and Greek letters by that time.
The initiative to establish new sororities on campus is currently spearheaded by two organizations. The Stella Society, led by President Kristina Miele ’19, and the Order of the Elms, led by MacKenzie Levy ’18, independently reached out to the Trinity administration with the intent of adding nationally recognized sororities to Trinity’s campus.
Kathryn Wojcik, Director of Campus Life Initiatives and Social Houses, and Joe DiChristina, Dean of Campus Life and Vice President of Student Affairs, both mentioned that these initiatives may result from an excess demand to join a GLO, a limited supply of available spots. “There’s a lot of women that want to join sororities and they can only take so many people,” said Wojcik, “it makes sense that there is a desire to add other sororities into the mix.”
Greek life opportunities offered to males outnumber those offered to women nine to five. The addition of a new sorority would help to expand Greek life opportunities for female Trinity students.
“Greek life has proved an enriching experience for Trinity students, and the opportunities afforded at the different Greek houses continue to attract many of our best campus leaders,” said Evan Scollard ’17, Inter-Greek Council President. “Expanding the current options will allow us to achieve gender parity in the system by carving out more places for women to become involved, and thereby create options for leadership. The IGC’s primary goal has been just to address the disproportionately few sororities compared to fraternities. I am proud to say that we have worked with these two new groups to facilitate that change.”
The Stella Society is currently comprised of 11 female students and the Order of the Elms is comprised of 14 students. Once these societies select a sorority to be matched with, their names will be replaced by the Greek letters of the relevant sorority.
The process to establish a chapter of a nationally recognized Greek Letter Organization (GLO) on Trinity’s campus requires collaboration between multiple offices. Founding members of the Stella Society toyed with the idea last winter, “it was something we were thinking about, and then Evan Scollard gave us the formal idea with the note that Trinity is trying to close the gap between men and women in Greek life,” said Miele.
The Stella Society met with the administration to start this process last winter and Order of the Elms started the process after meeting with the administration this fall. Both are currently established as interest groups, meaning they already have many of the same privileges as other GLOs.
However, there was no formal process in place to establish a new GLO when the Stella Society initially approached the administration last February. “When I showed up here last year…I learned there wasn’t any kind of practice to follow when it comes to students who express interest to form a Greek Letter Organization,” said Dean DiChristina. After meeting with the Stella Society, DiChristina met with the Student Organization Review Committee (SORC) and Timothy Dunn, Title IX Coordinator, to develop a process for students interested in establishing a GLO to follow.
This process is the new Inter-Greek Council (IGC) Recognition Policy. It requires that students first demonstrate interest by submitting a written letter and forming an interest group of at least four members. After DiChristina and Wojcik review the letter, a process is set in motion to ensure that the proposed organization, “becomes part of the structure of the College, and is not something that just sits out there, outside the student organization structure, not being able to be assisted and helped. Then Kathryn steps in with her role in campus life and social houses and providing guidance for students” said DiChristina.
Both groups are currently in the process of working with Wojcik. In her advising role, Wojcik works with the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the umbrella for 26 national sororities. She sends a report to the NPC detailing aspects of Trinity College culture, Greek life at Trinity and details about the relevant interest groups. The NPC then sends this report to the 26 national sorority chapters. These chapters decide whether they are interested in expansion, based on criteria including the number of alumni in the area, the geographical location of the school, and school size.
Throughout spring 2017, the IGC, with help from Wojcik, will work to set a timeline when a variety of interested sororities can visit Trinity and get a sense of the campus culture. If a sorority is very interested in expanding to Trinity, they notify Wojcik to set up an interview. During the interview process, the sorority presents details of their organization, what they hope to bring to Trinity, and what they look for in interest groups. These interviews are currently slotted to occur from mid to late March and will be open to all members of the Trinity community.
“That is an important part of this whole conversation it is open,” said DiChristina.
The interview also offers a time for Wojcik, DiChrstina, IGC leaders and the relevant interest groups to ask direct questions to the sororities. “This is a matching process,” said Wojcik, allowing both Trinity societies and the nationally recognized organizations to find the right fit for one and other. After the interview process, the society will determine the group with which they hope to affiliate. These decisions will be made by the end of April.
Currently Wojcik is working with the NPC to decide whether or not they will colonize both societies this spring, or colonize one this spring and one next year. If they choose only to colonize one group for national affiliation this spring, it will be the Stella Society, since they were first approved by Trinity. If this occurs, the Order of the Elms will remain a local sorority until receiving national status later on.
Once the societies are colonized by the NPC and matched with an affiliate national sorority, they will work over the summer with nationals to set up a recruitment process. Nationals also provide guidance as to the internal structure of their sororities, including executive board structures, and the recruitment process to be established next fall. Students will then be able to rush the coming fall.
The Stella Society has already planned a holiday-themed philanthropic event that aligns with their mission to promote “ Integrity, character, leadership, and sisterhood, through involvement in and service to the campus and community. Members dedicate themselves to the betterment of Trinity College and will support one another in lifelong achievement.” This semester, members of the Stella Society will sell “Stella Sweets” – candy cane grams – during common hour in Mather and the Cave. Proceeds will be donated to the homeless shelter, My Sisters Place. In addition to philanthropic events, the Stella Society also hopes to collaborate with currently established national GLOs on campus.
Order of the Elms also looks to establish a greater presence on campus. The society is hosting a “Meet and Greet” Sunday Dec. 11 from 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m. The location will be posted on their Facebook page by Wednesday evening. They also plan to host philanthropic and social events throughout the next two semesters and invite new members to join throughout the year.
Both of these groups also have fundraising initiatives. Those interested in donating or receiving membership information can contact Mackenzie Levy ’18 (Order of the Elms) or Kristina Miele ’19 (Stella Society).