If the Panhellenic Council has its way, the process to add a fourth society of sisters to Yale’s three existing sororities will begin this spring.
Panhel President Stephanie Cuevas ’12 said talk of bringing in a fourth sorority began last year because of the steep upward trend in the number of girls pledging in the past four years. But before Panhel can make the request to the National Panhellenic Conference, each of the three existing organizations must reach its cap of 111 sisters, demonstrating the need for a fourth group, Cuevas said. She added that she hopes this year’s rush process, which ends today, will accomplish the goal.
Cuevas said Panhel must first confirm that there is sufficient student demand for the new organization.
“We have to be 100 percent sure that people want a new sorority, and that it will benefit our campus,” she said.
Interest in sororities at Yale has grown steadily for the past several years, and this year a record 205 girls began the pledge process, compared to 170 last year. But not all groups are near the 111 goal: currently, Kappa Alpha Theta has 96 members, Pi Beta Phi 87 and Kappa Kappa Gamma 55.
“For the past three years, we have fallen behind in house total,” Kappa President Rachael Styer ’12 said. “We’re trying to make it up.”
To level the numbers, Kappa has conducted an informal fall rush process for the past three years, as well as second semester rush with the other two sororities.
Three sisters and two pledges interviewed said given the record number of girls rushing this year, they would support a fourth sorority that could incorporate more girls.
“A lot of girls get left out in the cold,” said pledge Cece Xie ’13. “The current system doesn’t allow for everyone to get matched up. It is a lot more stressful and more competitive of a process than it actually should be.”
This year, Panhel overhauled spring rush in an attempt to further equalize the house sizes and make a fourth sorority possible.
Since the number of girls pursuing membership in Greek organizations has increased so rapidly, Panhel is using new recruitment software and voting procedures in this year’s rush, asking the sororities to make an earlier round of cuts to give those who make it to the later rounds more opportunity to get to know their options. Styer and Cuevas said this should aid pledges and sororities in reaching the best matches, improving the yield from the rush process and helping each sorority meet its quota.
Cuevas said Panhel will have to wait until recruitment is over to see if memberships reach their desired level. Rushees receive bids today, and in the past would have had 24 hours to decide which sorority to join, but this year the time may be reduced.
If all goes as Panhel hopes, Cuevas said the council will write a request to all national sororities that are looking to expand their number of chapters and begin the process of finding one that matches its interests. Cuevas said actually opening a new sorority could take anywhere from a year to five years.
Styer called bringing in a fourth sisterhood a “valid idea,” but added that she does not think it will happen in the next two years.
Theta President Emily Dominski ’12 agreed that current students should not think of the new sorority as an option for them during their time at Yale.
“I don’t believe it’s anything eminent, if it ever happens to begin with,” she said. “I don’t think it’ll go through for several years.”
Cuevas said Panhel has yet to discuss the idea with the sorority presidents because of the ongoing rush process.
Pi Phi President Jenny Guyton ’12 did not respond to requests for comment.
Panhel intends to increase interest in Greek life by hosting campus-wide activities that welcome both sorority and non-sorority girls, Cuevas said, adding that the details of these events have yet to be established.
The rush process lasts a week, culminating in the offering of bids, which will occur today.