OSL and Greek Council aim to expand Greek Life on campus

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Occidental Greek Council and the Office of Student Life (OSL) are considering introducing new Greek organizations to campus in the next three to five years to address the growing popularity of Greek Life on campus. Several students have proposed the national and historically African-American sorority Delta Sigma Theta, members of which have been on campus gathering support for a potential new chapter of the organization.

Greek Council and OSL will survey the campus to determine whether there is a demand for additional sororities and fraternities this semester. According to Assistant Director for Student Life, Student Activities and Greek Life Diego Silva they will not make a major decision this semester. New Greek organizations other than Delta Sigma Theta are not likely to become a permanent fixture at Occidental in the near future.

According to Silva, one motivation for bringing in new organizations is the increasing number of students involved in the recruitment process who do not receive a bid. Two current Occidental sororities, Alpha Lambda Phi Alpha and Delta Omicron Tau, had an open-bid policy, meaning that all women who went through recruitment would get a bid from at least one organization. But in 2013 both organizations elected to become closed-bid when they determined their pledge classes were becoming too large. All of the other Greek organizations have also traditionally been closed-bid.

“Our Greek leaders want to be inclusive,” Silva said. “We really are taking that seriously, but at the same time we can’t overextend our Greek organizations. This is why we’re looking into organizational growth.”

While Greek Council Women’s Recruitment Chair and psychology major Rachel Lapidus (junior) does not see the local sororities or any other Greek organization moving back to an open-bid recruitment process, she said that having more organizations on campus would increase students’ chances of receiving a bid from at least one organization.

“I personally don’t want anyone to feel badly that they haven’t been accepted into a social organization,” Lapidus said. “We really want that for everyone, and that’s why we’re looking into expansion.”

If the student body and Greek Council agree on the need for new organizations sometime within the next few years, the college will issue a memo to current national Greek organizations expressing its interest in opening a new chapter. Any interested organization will submit a portfolio that will be considered by the Greek Council and OSL.

“We would look for an organization that values things like civic engagement, social justice, inclusivity; things that the students and the campus here tend to value,” Silva said. “Our Greek [council] has definitely made it clear that the organizations that we do bring on here should be in line with the general Oxy culture.”

According to Silva, any new organization will most likely be a national sorority or fraternity as opposed to a local one. National Greek organizations have a presence at multiple colleges and universities as well as a controlling body outside the campus that guides the chapter. Local organizations, on the other hand, were created by groups of students and are self-governed. Although students are welcome to start a women’s or men’s group on campus, Silva said that establishing an Occidental-sanctioned Greek organization without any outside assistance of a national association would likely be too difficult.

The first concrete step in the expansion of Greek Life was visible in the introduction of sorority Delta Sigma Theta. Outside members of the group began talks with potential Occidental members at the Greek Information Session on Feb. 10.

According to Assistant Dean for Community Engagement Ella Turenne, Occidental began consideration of a Delta Sigma Theta chapter after interested students proposed the idea to OSL.

“A number of students approached the college, some even independent of each other, wanting to explore the possibility of chartering specifically Delta Sigma Theta on campus,” Turenne said via email.

Members of Delta Sigma Theta collected the names of Occidental women interested in founding a new chapter this semester.

“There was actually a significant amount of interest … enough for the college to feel that the students were serious about it, and enough for the Delta Sigma Theta National Headquarters to feel it warranted exploring,” Turenne said via email.

According to Silva, the new chapter will not be established until sometime next year.