Establishing a new organization is almost always a challenging feat to accomplish. Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, the newest member of the greek community at K-State, faced many hurdles during recruitment and their first year on campus but has continued to strengthen the bonds of sisterhood and tradition of academic excellence.
Caitlin Pittman, freshman in business and new member of Zeta, was asked what made her choose this particular house. Pittman said she liked the fact that the members were open to so many different types of people.
“When I first went to ZTA during rush week I was sort of nervous because they did not have a house, but then again I was excited,” Pittman said. “I loved the idea of being involved with making something growing at K-state. When I talked to the girls during rush week they were all really open and outgoing. They accepted everything about you without judging you and they had all types of girls. I really like the fact that it was not based off one type of girl.”
Before the new Zeta chapter was established on Nov. 13, 2010, and the chapter’s new house was constructed on 508 Sunset Ave., the house formerly served as the Sigma Pi house.
The other sorority houses neighboring Zeta were established as early as the beginning part of the 1900s. Kappa Kappa Gamma, for example, was locally founded in 1915.
Erin White, senior in political science and Kappa member, was asked how the development and interaction with the new Zeta house affected her house.
“Kappa has been so excited about Zeta. We love the neighborhood that we live in and it’s fun to welcome in a new house to our dynamics. Plus they have an elevator? So cool,” White said.
Although having sorority houses so close to each other can cause tension, White said that she is confident that both Kappa and Zeta will thrive and will not have any issues coexisting.
“I think that the beauty of the Greek system at K-State is that there’s a place for everyone. I know without a doubt that Zeta will attract phenomenal women to join them, and so will Kappa, and they will be unique. I’m excited to see the character that Zeta will establish,” White said.
When White was asked if she had any interaction with the women of Zeta, she said she has had several positive experiences.
“Two of the students in my LEAD 212 learning community this past fall were Zetas, and I just love them to death,” White said. “I also have been to Zeta a few times to make announcements and pick up money and they have been so prompt and hospitable answering the door and helping me. I think that speaks volumes about the girls in a house.”
Pittman recognized there were pros and cons of joining a brand new chapter and said that being a part of a new organization was challenging but fulfilling.
“One of the pros about being the new house at K-State was no one knew anything about us, we were what we decided to be, not what people thought about us,” Pittman said. “A con was not having a house at first it was hard to hang out with the girls, but then we got our house and that became a pro because it was beautiful and made me really feel like I was at home. Another con about being the new house was people would judge so fast without even knowing us; we had to work hard to make people realize what kind of house we are.”
Zeta hopes to continue to see larger numbers of girls who want to be a part of the organization. The group is also hoping that their philanthropy can grow to be a more local-to-Manhattan philanthropy.
“I see the house growing bigger and bigger with more girls,” Pittman said. “I also see the house growing in the community and more people realizing what kind of house we are. I think our philanthropy will grow through Manhattan with it being breast cancer and the rest I’m going to wait for, but I’m really excited about it.”
Connor Staats, junior in social work and president of Zeta, spoke about how her sorority adapted to the new changes and obstacles of not having a house during recruitment.
“The active members, who were living in-house, were housed at the Clarion Hotel while we waited on the house to be finished,” Staats said. “Our main challenge this year was location, which we solved by having formal recruitment in the Union and staying in the hotel while we waited on our house to be finished. However, accommodations, or lack thereof might have been perceived as a challenge, but they really weren’t because we managed to take quota during recruitment, which was a welcome surprise considering we had never done a formal recruitment before.”
Zeta’s recruitment effort received significant outside help.
“During recruitment we received quite a bit of help from our traveling leadership consultant and from our national members. The help we received allowed us to reach quota, which was incredible given it was our first formal recruitment at K-State,” Staats said. “There wasn’t a particular advantage or disadvantage to having it in the Union, it was just different than how the other chapters at K-State held formal recruitment. We were able to set up three mock rooms in the Union to show what the house would look like furnished. In the mock set-up the real furniture was used so it was as exact as possible.”
Staats said since the facilities are brand new, Zeta members have an advantage of using more recent technology, which can help make classes easier.
“Our chapter house is new,” Staats said. “Literally everything is new, which is awesome. We are able to offer the most updated accommodations and technology to better their education in their fraternity.”
Staats spoke highly of the first group of girls in the recruitment process and thanked the national sponsors and the girls in her sorority.
“Everything we have accomplished this year has been because of the outstanding support from our nationals and from the dedication of the women in our sorority,” she said. “While the beginning of the year wasn’t ideal, you can see the progress we have made and the bonds we have developed.”