Yale may see its first religious Greek organization if a Christian sorority is successful in its push to open a new chapter on campus.
Delta Psi Epsilon Christian Sorority, Inc. is taking steps to expand to Yale after Nicole Negbenebor ’12 contacted the organization over a month ago to express interest, said the sorority’s founder and national president Vila-Sheree Watson. The sorority’s efforts could head off the Yale Panhellenic Council’s plans to incorporate a fourth sorority, said Panhel President Stephanie Cuevas ’12, despite the fact that Panhel would not oversee Delta Psi Epsilon.
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After examining Yale College’s Greek system, Watson said her organization saw an opportunity to fill “a void” caused by the lack of Christian fraternities and sororities at Yale.
“We build collegiate chapters in order to provide an alternative to the sorority system available on campus,” Watson said, describing the organization as an opportunity for Christian women to participate in sorority life without “having to compromise their Christian values.”
Even though Panhel does not supervise cultural and religious sororities, Cuevas said Delta Psi Epsilon’s rush could affect the Panhel recruitment process and satisfy the demand that prompted Panhel to consider a fourth sorority.
“If it turns out that not as many girls go through recruitment because they are drawn to [Delta Psi Epsilon], then we can’t bring a new sorority because this new one would accommodate excess demand,” Cuevas said.
Still, three sorority members interviewed said they think Delta Psi Epsilon is not likely to affect Panhel’s plans. Rachael Styer ’12, president of Kappa Kappa Gamma, said a Christian sorority targets a very specific subset of the Yale population and would not relieve the need for another sorority.
If Panhel still has more rushes than it can accommodate after the new sisterhood opens, Cuevas said, the Council will still try to add another sorority.
Negbenebor has already helped the organization recruit members, and sent an e-mail to undisclosed recipients Mar. 10 encouraging interested students to apply for membership. She likened the process to a grassroots movement that is heavily dependent on word of mouth and thus far, she said, it has been difficult to gauge interest in the new sorority.
Later this week, Watson said, Delta Psi Epsilon’s national organization will contact the appropriate administrator within the Office of Student Affairs and send an information package to University officials explaining their intention to expand to Yale. Though many Greek organizations contact Yale to establish branches on campus, Associate Dean for Student Organizations and Physical Resources John Meeske said, Yale does not officially recognize fraternities and sororities and cannot help the groups.
“They are on their own,” Meeske said.
With or without official recognition, Watson said, the sorority will still be interested in opening at Yale. The group accepts female members of all ages, ethnicities and denominations, and requires a minimum of six sisters to start a chapter, Watson said, adding that she is optimistic that there is sufficient demand for a Christian sorority at Yale. Only undergraduates pursuing a four-year degree in an accredited higher education institution who have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and show interest in joining a Christian sorority are eligible to join the Yale chapter.
Delta Psi Epsilon was founded in 1999.