CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo, Jan. 19, 2016 – For the first time in more than two decades, a new Panhellenic sorority will possibly be added at Southeast Missouri State University, with the new chapter to colonize or recharter as early as next fall.
The announcement comes as the Southeast Panhellenic Council voted in late December to approve the addition of a new National Panhellenic Conference sorority to the Panhellenic community which currently has six sororities. The possibility of sorority expansion advanced to the National Panhellenic Conference after each of the six chapters that make up Southeast’s Panhellenic Council voted in favor of the growth.
“They (the women of Southeast’s Panhellenic Council) are very excited,” said DeAnte Smith, director of Greek Life. “We haven’t seen another new (Panhellenic) sorority since 1994. I am excited for the opportunity for interested sororities to come in and give presentations and to evaluate them to determine which chapter would be the best fit for Southeast.”
During the spring semester, interested chapters will visit Southeast, where they will make presentations. Southeast’s current Panhellenic Council chapters — Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Xi Delta, Delta Delta Delta, Gamma Phi Beta and Sigma Sigma Sigma – will evaluate them and then vote on which sorority they would recommend to add.
Southeast’s Panhellenic Council currently has 686 women. The average chapter size at Southeast is about 119 members, up from 80 just two years ago.
“Greek Life has seen a huge increase in membership, especially sororities,” Smith said, a bump he attributes to stepped up recruitment of women with strong values and expectations, and experience in high school leadership roles.
Smith said he also has tweaked the recruitment process to keep women in the process longer and allow them to visit as many chapters as possible during that time. Recruitment counselors also are doing a better job of conveying the positive impact that Greek Life offers over a lifetime. Marketing efforts also are being made to reach out to every woman accepted and enrolled at Southeast to register for sorority recruitment.
These efforts and the resulting growth sparked the plan to expand, he said, as all chapters are at or above their house total. About 100 women interested in joining a Panhellenic sorority last fall were not able to because there was not enough space to accommodate them or they could not find a community with the right fit. Smith said Southeast’s Panhellenic sororities have long been rooted in communities small enough for all members to develop close relationships and to get to know each other.
“They came to Southeast because of the smaller feel here in and out of the classroom,” Smith said. “Now chapters have increased to where they can’t build those relationships” as readily.
Chapter houses and many University meeting rooms often are not large enough to accommodate their membership.
“Having another sorority gives them a new opportunity to create a culture within that sorority to take advantage of the Greek opportunities. It helps them find a place.”
Smith says he expects about 100 women to find their home with the new sorority.
He says he has spoken briefly with Residence Life about the possibility of housing the new chapter together on a residence hall floor, although nothing has been finalized.