Growing greeks: rising recruitment numbers push Panhellenic to add another sorority chapter

Alexa McCallum, freshman in interior architecture, cheers with other new members of Delta Delta Delta before they run to meet the rest of their new sisters as part of Bid Day festivities on August 22, 2014 in Bosco Plaza. (Hannah Hunsinger | The Collegian)

At K-State, members of the greek community make up 20 percent of the 24,000-student population. Yet with the number of women going through sorority recruitment increasing by almost 100 per year each of the last three years, the greek community and its sororities need to keep up.

According to Brianna Hayes, assistant director for Greek Affairs, the sorority quota (the minimum number of women a chapter needs for its new pledge class) jumped from 165 members to 192 in just the last year alone. Hayes said she feels this change isn’t beneficial for sororities or their members.

“When you get that many women in a house, it’s so hard for girls to even get to know each other,” Hayes said. “There’s limitation on how many people fit in houses and chapter rooms and the number going up presents new challenges for our established houses.”

“It’s just amazing to me because we don’t do anything to advertise sorority recruitment, The numbers just keep going up.” – Ben Hopper

Greek Affairs and the Panhellenic community knew a change was in order. The change proposed and approved was the addition of a new sorority. Paige Kallenberger, Panhellenic representative and senior in psychology, recalls the Panhellenic meeting where it was decided to move into sorority extension.

“We all met before our regular meeting last semester and looked at recruitment statistics from the last five years and looked at where our total numbers were,” Kallenberger said. “We took that to the meeting.”

These numbers showed that even with the addition of Zeta Tau Alpha four years ago, the interest in K-State sorority life has continued to rise.

“It’s just amazing to me because we don’t do anything to advertise sorority recruitment,” Ben Hopper, director of Greek Affairs, said. “The numbers just keep going up.”

Delegates from each chapter voted whether or not to expand the sorority circle. According to Kallenberger, the vast majority of the greek community was on board with the addition of a new chapter.

“I think that as a general whole, the majority of the Panhellenic chapters are pretty excited about adding another chapter,” Kallenberger said. “Keeping our chapter numbers smaller is really important to all the chapters on campus.”

However, while the Panhellenic community is optimistic about the addition, there are also concerns.

“I think a lot of concerns are that when the new chapter first comes, you will immediately see our chapter sizes go down, which is the ultimate goal,” Kallenberger said. “It takes a couple years for things to even back out.”

To Hayes, this is less of a concern and more of the ideal. She said she hopes that the addition of a new house will help ease the stress sitting on sororities’ shoulders as well as add interest to sorority life.

“We have a great greek community but sometimes it gets lost because our chapters are so established that they have stereotypes,” Hayes said. “Whether or not they follow those stereotypes, they are still there. This new chapter has no stereotype. It ultimately will build one but it gets those people to try out something new.”

For Mandy Sloan, recruitment chair for Kappa Alpha Theta and sophomore in family studies and human services, there are few concerns about an addition. She said she feels that it will be better for the long-term health of K-State’s sororities.

“I think will give the potential new members going through another way to find their place,” Sloan said. “We don’t really have any concerns about bringing another sorority on campus, as long as it’s done well, unlike the last one.”

The “last one” Sloan referenced was the attempted re-colonization of Sigma Sigma Sigma on K-State’s campus in the spring of 2014. While the chapter saw some interest, it was unable to draw the amount of women needed to fully establish a chapter. Both Kellenberg and Hayes said the difference in type of sorority as part of why Sigma Sigma Sigma was unsuccessful. Commonly found at smaller universities, Kellenberg said that it probably was not fully prepared to establish at a large university such as K-State.

“It’s a pretty daunting task to form a completely new chapter on a campus,” Kallenberger said.

“We’re probably going to look for sororities that are generally more established at larger schools. I feel like they will be more likely to be successful at K-State.” -Brianna Hayes

That is why Hayes is suggesting bringing a new sorority in during formal recruitment in the fall, rather than doing open bidding in the spring. She said she feels that allowing a new chapter to participate in the first round of formal recruitment, Open House and then doing open bidding afterward will allow them to drum up the needed interest and awareness. That being said, she said she is also aware that sororities that are generally based at large universities will also be necessary for the new house to be successful.

“We’re probably going to look for sororities that are generally more established at larger schools,” Hayes said. “I feel like they will be more likely to be successful at K-State.”

Kallenberger, the rest of the Panhellenic board of directors and its advisers will travel to conference this weekend to learn more about the extension process. Upon their return, they will form an extension committee to hear proposals from interested new sororities. The hope is that they will be able to locate a new addition as quickly as next fall.

“I think the needs of our campus need us to get one here in the fall, but I think we’re going to have to be pretty aggressive about getting applications through and approved to get that done,” Kallenberger said.

While Hayes said she believes that a new house is somewhat essential to the Panhellenic community, she has concerns about being able to pull in another chapter so quickly.

“If all things could be perfect in life, we would love for them to come next fall,” Hayes said. “Will that happen? I don’t know.”