Plans to bring a fifth sorority to the University of South Dakota have been axed for another year.
USD’s Panhellenic Council voted against adding a new sorority Nov. 10. After consulting with their national organizations, there was a unanimous “no” vote, ending the conversation on an extension for this year, with each sorority receiving a single vote.
Laura Roof, coordinator of Sorority and Fraternity Life and Leadership, said this conversation is not new to campus.
“This is the farthest it has gone, but this is a discussion that has continued year after year after year,” Roof said.
To assess if an additional sorority is necessary, the university took statistics from the past seven years that showed a boom in sorority membership from 80 people to more than 120 in a chapter.
Two weeks ago, an exploratory committee — made up of current and alumni members of sororities — looked over the statistics and discussed whether the existing chapters are at a manageable size and if the community would benefit from the addition of a sorority.
“At the end of that entire conversation, that group of people in that room decided that they think our campus is ready for extension,” Roof said.
That recommendation was then taken to the Panhellenic Council, and the sororities spoke to their national organizations. The vote was taken the following week.
Carly Heard, an academic adviser for the Beacom School of Business, served as the chair of the exploratory committee and would have been the head of the extension committee had the vote been given the go-ahead for the addition of another sorority.
The committee met once to go over a set of questions regarding adding a new sorority, and after the discussion, Heard said there was an unanimous vote toward an extension.
For now, Heard said she’s awaiting feedback from nationals.
“The active women at the lived-in level are feeling 100 percent there is room for another chapter,” Heard said.
She said the next step is understanding what nationals sees in the numbers the university provided and bridging the gap between a local and national perception of the numbers.
“They must be seeing something up there they are worried about,” Heard said.
Roof said the national organizations gave responses revolving around recruitment.
“They’d like to see larger numbers in the number of women going through recruitment,” Roof said.
While sororities are larger than they have been in past years, recruitment attendance has decreased from 300 to 250 women seeking placement. Two years ago, a fee was incorporated into recruitment.
This year, recruitment was moved to a week before school, a change Roof said will also be embodied into next year’s recruitment.
“It was a lot more fun for them — it wasn’t as stressful,” Roof said. “They could just focus on recruiting and bringing in new, wonderful women to their organization.”
If the vote would had swung the other way, then an extension committee would have been formed. That committee would put together an informational packet on why the university is seeking an extension of the Greek community.
In January, Greek organizations that are looking to place new chapters on campuses declare if they want to extend to the university. Sometimes, these organiations do exploratory visits that are similar to a basic campus tour. The officials do not meet with students or most faculty members.
“We don’t want them to sway the community in any way,” Roof said.
Then, in late March or April, the extension committee would invite three of the interested Greek organizations to travel to campus, where they would be able to meet anybody on campus they wished and would give a presentation on their organization about its history, values and why it wants to expand to USD.
The extension committee would then choose one of the potential Greek organizations to formally recommend to USD’s Panhellenic Council. At this meeting, national opinion has less sway than local opinion.
The chosen sorority would then send a national representative to campus for one to two years. The organization would start as a charter, but would not yet be a fully recognized organization for around six months because it wouldn’t have initiated any members.
Leaders of all four of USD’s sororities declined to respond to requests for comment.
First-year Shawna Rezac said she didn’t participate in recruitment. The transfer student said she was gone for the week, but has seen the number of Greek students on campus and their events.
“I get asked to go to things a lot,” Rezac said.
Rezac said from her perspective, the Greek community is large enough for a new sorority house.
“I think it’s big enough,” Rezac said. “It’s getting bigger, so it should be expanded.”
Roof said the conversation about adding a new sorority could begin again as soon as next year.
“The statistics are looking more favorable,” Roof said.