Panhell hopes to revitalize DG to add seventh sorority

by Amy Semet | 10/3/95 6:00am

The alternative Delta Gamma rush plan this term essentially is an attempt to revitalize the College's weakest sorority in hopes that the Panhellenic Council will be able to ask for the College's permission to create a seventh mainstream sorority.

But although DG President Abbey Henderson '96 said the alternative rush program was a success, the numbers do not seem to be what the sorority hoped for.

"We are in the process of offering bids to women who dropped out of rush or who did not receive bids," Henderson said. "Therefore, we won't have firm numbers for another two weeks. Several women did drop out of rush to join DG."

Under the plan, women who were rushing the other five sororities could drop out of the rush process at any point and join DG. Henderson declined to release the number of women who joined DG under the plan, but she said she believes that DG's membership is being judged by Panhell's standards and not the desired size of the house.

"DG's membership is only dwindling in light of what quota is during rush," Henderson said. "We would prefer to have 20 pledges a term, but we're forced to take more and we're told we are weak if we don't fill quota."

Panhell is the self-governing body of the College's sororities.

The other five mainstream sororities have about 70-80 members from the Classes of 1996 and 1997, according to previous issues of The Dartmouth.

DG only has 48 members from the Classes of 1996 and 1997, and was hoping to add at least 30 members from the Class of 1998.

New sorority?

Last spring, the presidents of the College's five largest sororities issued a statement calling for the College to establish gender equity in the social system by creating parity among the number of single-sex fraternities, sororities and coeducational houses.

In the statement, the sorority presidents called for the College to find "ways to encourage the formation of more women's and co-educational organizations so that the size of organizations within the sororities system will increase."

The former presidents said there were two major impediments to the addition of a new sorority: the lack of an available physical plant and DG's current size.

In an attempt to reverse this trend of falling membership, DG adapted last spring its "alternative rush plan."

In the spring, DG offered freshman women the chance to forego rush and agree to join the house then. In late May, the sorority held an information session that attracted 11 women, seven of whom decided to join, Henderson said.

In a July article in The Dartmouth, Henderson said bad timing contributed to the limited success of the first phase of the alternative rush plan.

"The session came at a bad time," Henderson said at the time. "It was the same night as a Women in Science Program session and it was close to finals."

Panhell President Dani Brune '96 said Panhell will meet sometime this term to discuss whether it is appropriate to add a seventh sorority.

"We would like to keep DG," Brune said. "We also would like to bring another house in and start it like KDE."

About 220 women registered for rush this year. Four of the six houses told The Dartmouth yesterday that they had combined to add 166 new members, or about 40 each.

Brune also said that 20 women dropped out of the rush process. These numbers mean that there are about 40 women to divide between DG and Epsilon Kappa Theta sorority.

Thus, it seems unlikely that DG will hit its target of 30 women. The apparent failure of DG's alternate rush plan may make it difficult for Panhell to legitimately push for a seventh sorority.

Xi Kappa Chi

Three years ago, Xi Kappa Chi sorority was facing membership problems similar to what DG currently faces.

However, Xi Kappa Chi was a local sorority, while DG is affiliated with a national organization. Thus, when the College decided it wanted to revitalize Xi Kappa Chi, that sorority had no ties, other than those with the College.

In 1992 and 1993, Xi Kappa Chi was plagued by low membership and financial difficulties. In an article in The Dartmouth in May 1993, Xi Kappa Chi President Cheri Pinkerton '94 attributed her sorority's weak condition to a vicious cycle in which women were hesitant to rush a sorority with dwindling numbers, which in turn decreased membership even more.

Representatives from Phi Mu, a national sorority, visited the College in April 1993, to consider inviting Xi Kappa Chi to affiliate, which would have allowed Xi Kappa Chi to increase its financial base.

However, Phi Mu's national council voted against starting a national chapter at Dartmouth and members of Xi Kappa Chi said they were not interested in joining a national affiliate.

In the spring of 1993, 50 women, primarily from the Class of 1996, merged with Xi Kappa Chi to form Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority, which was a new local sorority.

Henderson said DG's situation is different from that of Xi Kappa Chi.

DG is "in great shape financially," Henderson said. "We have substantial savings accounts and our dues cover our expenses, many of which tend to fluctuate with the size of our membership."

DG also is a national sorority, which means that if DG were to get in trouble financially, "our national would help us out," Henderson said.

"In reality, a strong financial base is the product of a good treasurer and a dedicated executive board, and we have had exceptional women as officers right now and in the past," Henderson said.

Henderson also stressed DG's desire to keep the pledge classes small, even though the other mainstream sororities traditionally have large pledge classes.

Henderson said a smaller pledge class makes DG a "very intimate house where everyone knows each other and becomes close friends." She said that since last December, not a single sister has depledged or gone inactive for more than one term.

"I think this is a better measure of strength than the number of members," Henderson said. "Obviously, we must be doing something right if we're attracting amazing women and keeping them."

Future of Alternative Rush

Henderson said DG does not plan to use the alternative rush plan next year and instead will participate in formal rush in its entirety with the other five sororities.

"Although the national Panhellenic Council is moving towards a more informal rush process, I don't think our national is ready for us to move to an alternative rush program permanently right now," Henderson said. "I don't think it would be fair to the other five houses to do it again next year."

Many DG sisters said they thought the alternative rush process has been successful.

"There was a lot of positive feedback from both the sisters and rushees on our informal rush," DG Vice President Kim Papa '97 said. "Many rushees complimented us on the atmosphere and the enthusiasm at our house. I think informal rush made it a lot more fun and comfortable for everyone involved."

Assistant Dean of Residential Life Deb Reinders declined to comment on the DG rush plan.