Greek life sees potential for new sororities

Mark Feuerborn

The Student Activities and Greek Life office is looking to bring two new sororities to the university’s campus in the 2017-2018 school year.

Zeta Phi Beta, a historically black sorority founded in 1920 during the Harlem Renaissance, has the possibility to establish a local chapter on Washburn’s campus. Washburn has another historically black sorority on campus, Alpha Kappa Alpha. They will be partnering with Zeta Phi Beta for the pair’s diversity awareness efforts this year. Kappa Delta Chi, a historically Latina sorority founded in 1987, may also soon join Washburn’s Greek Life.

Jessica Neumann Barraclough, director of Student Activites and Greek Life, explained the differences between a Greek colony and a chapter.

“The simplest answer is that [a colony] is a probationary period for the new members of the organization to show their commitment to the organization and live up to the founding values of the organization,” Neumann Barraclough said. “Every organization has their own requirements for a colony to become a chartered chapter.”

While this is the standard procedure that most Panhellenic sororities and fraternities go through, Danielle Dempsey-Swopes, director of University Diversity and Inclusion, spoke on behalf of Zeta Phi Beta and said that they would not go through a colony phase. Instead, they would come to campus as a chapter like other Multicultural Greek Council, or “Divine Nine” sororities, do.

Kristen Stinnett, president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, said that her sorority and Zeta Phi Beta would partner to work closely together as members of the national Multicultural Greek Council.

“We are partnering together to expand diverse organizations on campus,” Stinnett said. “Washburn’s population is increasing in population and we want our diverse organizations to increase too.”

Stinnett also specified that neither of the sororities engage in recruitment efforts like Panhellenic sororities’ rush events, but welcome new members as they continue their diversity awareness campaigns. 

The sororities have specific dedications to sisterhood, community service and diversity. Dempsey-Swopes believes the values of these sororities would benefit a large number of students.

“Membership in the organization enhances a Washburn student’s network for resources and support,” Dempsey-Swopes said. “[It] provides social activities and service opportunities with people who share cultural norms and similar challenges learning on a predominately white campus.”

While dual membership in different Greek organizations has been previously possible at Washburn, that is not the case with the new sororities as Neumann Barraclough clarified.

“My knowledge is that as the three chapters grow in membership we can form a Multicultural Greek Council to help govern their community similar to Panhellenic Council,” Neumann Barraclough said.

She said that many members of Kappa Delta Chi and Alpha Kappa Alpha are also members of the Black Student Union on Washburn’s campus. Although these sororities’ members are historically those respective ethnicities, those interested in joining do not need to be from those specific backgrounds as Dempsey-Swopes clarified.

“You do not have to be African American [or Latina] to join and many chapters are very racially and ethnically diverse,” Dempsey-Swopes said. “You just have to be dedicated to the organization and its signature causes.”

Students interested in learning more about multicultural campus organizations can contact the Student Activities and Greek Life office at [email protected].