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Panhellenic Council considers adding new sororities

If approved, a chapter could be on campus by fall 2013.

The University of Minnesota’s Panhellenic Council began discussions this fall regarding the addition of a new sorority to campus. Members hope to have the new chapter on campus by fall 2013.

Undergraduate sorority members and alumni formed an extension exploratory committee in late September to consider adding new sororities to the University’s greek community.

Cari Wikman, the committee chair, said overwhelming chapter size, limited housing and increased interest in campus greek life prompted the committee’s formation.

Many sororities are not able to offer housing to all interested members and some have been forced to outsource events to locations that can better accommodate the large chapter size, she said.

Inviting a new sorority to campus could help alleviate the pressure of rising membership and also offer sorority members a more intimate sorority experience, Wickman said.

“We want to make sure that the girls who are going through and joining the greek community are having a really great experience,” she said, “and … that they have the ability to get to know their sisters on a one-on-one basis.”

The University’s greek community is one of the smallest in the Big Ten.

Wikman said the committee is looking at how other schools’ greek communities function and thrive. She said she believes there’s a “huge opportunity” to expand the University’s community to be the same size as other peer institutions.

The committee is expected to present a final report detailing the benefits and obstacles of expansion to the PHC on Dec. 2. The PHC community will then look over the report and vote on whether to move forward with extension.

If the PHC votes in favor of extension, the report will be presented to the National Panhellenic Conference, which will either approve or deny the committee’s request for extension.

Both Wikman and PHC President Angela Ugorets said they’re confident that if the University’s PHC votes in favor of extension, the NPC will grant the request.

If approved, PHC will form an extension committee in December to generate criteria and review information sent by interested sororities. It will then make recommendations to the council regarding which national sororities to invite to campus.

Matt Levine, program director for the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life, said the extension process can take one of two forms — inviting only returning sororities back to campus or allowing any NPC sorority to request consideration from the committee.

Levine said he “has asked the [exploratory] committee to consider all options” and look into requests from non-returning sororities.

But Wikman said that decision can only be made after the extension exploratory committee receives NPC approval.

“Both are very viable options,” she said.

The committee anticipates beginning interviews with interested sororities this spring and having a new chapter on campus by fall 2013.

“The goal of our committee is to bring a chapter to campus,” Wikman said. “But the end goal [of the extension process] is really making sure that that chapter is able to establish roots and really grow successfully … so that we can grow an even better community moving forward.”

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