Discussions are underway to introduce a new sorority on campus after a unanimous vote from the Panhellenic Council on Sept. 29 to “open campus to extension,” according to Panhel President Yasmin C. Inam ’15. The sorority will join six other sororities on campus as part of the Panhellenic Association.
The decision to add a new sorority comes in response to the growing number of sorority sisters, said Inam.
Currently, 687 undergraduate women are affiliated, up from 572 in 2011 and 548 in 2008, according to Inam. Both last year and this year, 189 bids were given out to students during the formal recruitment process.
Prior to the vote, the Panhellenic Council initiated an Exploratory Committee in the spring of 2013 that “conducted background analysis on the MIT sorority and campus communities, looking at growth trends in each,” wrote Inam in an email. The recommendations from the committee, along with discussions between Panhel and national organizations, were considered during the vote.
Panhel has now established an Extension Committee of undergraduate and “administrative representatives” for “defining and formalizing the qualities” of the new sorority, said Inam. The sorority will be chosen from one of the 26 sororities in the National Panhellenic Council.
According to Inam, Panhel hopes to decide upon the sorority by early March. The colonization would then begin in the fall of 2015.
Panhel also plans to consult with the MIT administration and the Association of Independent Living Groups as it undergoes the search process.
The last sorority to be introduced at MIT was the Massachusetts Gamma chapter of Pi Beta Phi. Chartered in 2008, the chapter gained residence in 2011 and now has 116 sisters, 52 of whom live in the on-campus house, according to their website.
The other four Panhel sororities currently on campus were all chartered in the ’80s and ’90s. Alpha Phi was established in 1981 and became the first Panhellenic sorority on campus, according to the chapter’s website.
In 2011, The Tech reported on a student’s plans to introduce a new sorority for Asian women. However, unlike the other sororities, it was intended to be smaller, with no more than 30 members.
Although the Asian-interest sorority never materialized, the demand for a new sorority has persisted. Most of MIT’s Panhel sororities have over 100 students at any given time, but with facilities that only accommodate 25 to 60, according to Panhel’s website. One of the sororities, Alpha Epsilon Phi, has no house.
In contrast, all of MIT’s 25 fraternities have between 20 and 70 members in their chapters, with the average at 43 members, according to Haldun Anil ’15, the president of the Interfraternity Council. Students in fraternities are generally able to live in the chapter’s house if desired.
Panhel is hoping to prevent MIT’s sororities from growing too large. “We want to ensure that sororities are at a size where each member can feel a strong sense of affiliation and support,” said Inam. She added that another sorority could also appeal to “women who may not feel like they are strong fits with [the] current chapters, but may be interested in the benefits of sororities in general.”