By MARY BURGER – STAFF WRITER
Over the past several weeks, rumors have surfaced about the plans to move the house currently on Fifth Street to the lot beside the Kappa Alpha Theta house on Greek Row. One predominant concern is whether or not this house will be available in the future for a fifth sorority.
This process of adding another Greek organization (also called “extension”) is something that the Student Life Office is taking into consideration. As of now, however, the introduction of a fifth sorority is a much more distant possibility, one that will take at least two years so see any sort of fruition.
“At this point we’re not officially considering extension, we’re just considering the formation of a committee to gather and analyze information to determine if the time is right (now or at some point in the future) to consider pursuing the extension process,” Director of Greek Life and New Student Orientation Alycia Tidrick said.
In the future, should the committee decide that the time is right to open up the campus to a fifth sorority, they will begin a lengthy, highly structured process outlined by the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). NPC is the governing body of 26 national and international women’s fraternities, including the four currently on Centre’s campus.
As of this past Tues., Sept. 30, NPC voted in favor of forming an exploratory committee, according to Panhellenic President Chelsea Shields.
“The committee will spend several months gathering information and will generate a report containing a recommendation on whether or not pursuing extension is advisable and in the best interest of the campus community,” Tidrick said.
“If the exploratory committee’s recommendation is in favor of extension, discussions will continue with College administrators, our NPC advisors, and within the Panhellenic community to determine if we want to pursue officially opening for extension.”
If the Panhellenic Council votes in favor of this, then the national NPC organizations will be notified.
“NPC has an extension bulletin that is used as a communication tool to notify national organizations when a campus has opened for extension,” Tidrick said.
“In the event that we decide to move forward with extension, we will utilize the extension bulletin to notify all organizations that are not currently represented on Centre’s campus that the campus is open for extension.”
“We must keep in mind that this process is a slow one. It is hard to determine the timeline of this process considering we are in the early stages of exploring our possibilities,” Shields said.
“It is a big decision to invite an additional chapter to Centre’s Community. The exploratory committee will heavily emphasize the pros and cons associated with expanding our Greek Life system. Our Greek Life is strong on campus with the existing chapters and we want to keep everyone’s best interest at heart.”
A fifth sorority would also allow for some positive changes to Centre’s Greek life.
“Adding another sorority may help to disrupt some of the more pervasive stereotypes that exist about our sororities which often color [perspective members’] perception of our chapters before they even have a chance to meet chapter member,” Vice President of Recruitment Claire Phillips said.
One thing officials will look at is the size of chapters and the total student population. The average chapter size, recruitment registration numbers, and quota numbers for chapters have steadily increased over the past years.
“With the College’s projected growth in enrollment over the next few years and interest in Greek life remaining strong, we anticipate that our average chapter size and new member class size will continue to grow steadily in the coming year,” Tidrick said.
“Larger chapters also present challenges associated with chapter management and finding locations large enough to accommodate chapter meetings and events,” Tidrick said.
“The addition of a fifth chapter could provide an additional outlet for women interested in sorority life and stabilize our growth rate and average chapter size, therefore presenting a potential solution to some of our chapter management and meeting space issues.”
Now that PNC has officially approved the formation of an exploratory committee, research will begin that will provide valuable insight into the possibility of adding a new sorority.