After the sorority recruitment process left 30 girls disappointed last year, Yale’s Panhellenic Council is considering adding a fourth sorority to Yale’s campus.
An exploratory committee convened this fall, which included members from all three Yale sororities, reported their findings to the Yale Panhellenic Council last week, recommending the addition of a fourth sorority. The council has not officially voted on the motion. While Jessica Leao ’16, vice president of Yale Panhellenic Council, said having three sororities — Phi Beta Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta and Kappa Kappa Gamma — on campus is considered by national standards to be relatively small, it has not previously been a problem at Yale.
“Up until last year, only one or two girls did not receive an invitation to join a sorority,” Leao said. “Whereas the most recent recruitment process turned away 30 girls — enough to fill a pledge class in another sorority.”
The number vying for a place in a sorority has been growing, according to Leao. In 2012-13, 199 girls signed up for the recruitment process, compared to 239 in 2013-14. Yen Truong ’15, vice president of Recruitment for Yale’s Panhellenic Council, said she feels strongly that anyone who wants to join a sorority should be given the opportunity. The addition of a fourth sorority would prevent a repeat of last year, she said.
Under this timeline, the new sorority would be in place for the opening of the new residential colleges. Truong said that the influx of female students from the new residential colleges will further strain the recruitment process.
Sarah Armstrong ’18 said the fourth sorority would provide more options for students during the recruitment process. As someone interested in pursuing a sorority membership, she said her current worry is there is not enough space for everyone.
Leao said the general consensus within the Greek community was that a fourth sorority would be a beneficial addition.
“As a sorority grows, there is less attention to individuals,” she said. “A fourth sorority would add another good community to campus, and generate more panhellenic spirit.”
However, other students interviewed said there is no need for another sorority like the existing three already on campus.
Kaylan Burchfield ’18 said she is not planning to join a sorority at Yale because the Divine Nine is not represented at Yale. The Divine Nine, according to Burchfield, is the name given to a collection of sororities and fraternities rooted in black heritage.
“Because I am an African American female, I do not believe that I can have the sisterhood that I am looking for or am familiar with seeing because my Greek ethnic group doesn’t exist here,” she said.
Samantha Angle ’18 said the residential college system means she also feels no inclination to rush a sorority. While not entirely opposed to the concept of Greek life, she said she has been able to find a strong social group without it.
Laurel Lehman ’17 agreed, saying that she had found a strong community of women in her all-female a cappella group, Proof of the Pudding.
“There’s plenty of overlap between Greek life and a cappella, to be sure — but for me, I found that Proof, in combination with some other groups on campus, more than provided the extent of a community I was looking for,” Lehman said.
Armstrong, who participates in a lot of freshman-oriented activities, said she hopes to find the same kind of community in a sorority.
“Most of my extracurriculars are freshmen specific — FCC, Freshmen in Service — so the idea of having a group that I would get to be apart of for my entire time here is definitely appealing,” she said.
Samantha Berenblum ’17, a sorority member, agreed with Armstrong, adding that her sorority has allowed her to contribute to various philanthropic activities and sisterhood events. Berenblum said the success of these events, in addition to a growing fraternity presence, has drawn more attention to Greek life at Yale.
If the Yale Panhellenic Council approves the movement, Leao said there could be a fourth sorority involved in next year’s official recruitment process, which will occur in the spring semester of the 2015-16 academic year.
“For now, we’ll be voting on whether to extend to a fourth chapter or not this semester, and from there we’ll open Yale’s campus to proposals that will come from nationals,” Leao said. “Over the course of the next calendar year of 2015, we would be bringing a fourth sorority to campus and going through informal recruitment to gather the first class of new members.”
Founded in 1985, Kappa Alpha Theta was the first sorority to arrive at Yale.