Alpha Phi colony moves toward sorority status

by Jennifer Garfinkel | 8/1/06 5:00am

Nearly five months after Alpha Phi sorority landed at Dartmouth as the College's seventh all-female Greek organization, the membership of the Alpha Phi colony has more than doubled and the women are reaping the benefits of Greek life on campus while working toward sorority status.

The members of Alpha Phi kicked off their colony with a New Member Ceremony at the beginning of Spring term. The ceremony was led by an educational leadership consultant that the national sorority sent to campus. This term, Alpha Phi has a different consultant living with the colony members: sorority member Laura Keene, a recent graduate from the University of Colorado, who has been advising the women and will assist in recruitment.

Throughout the Spring and Summer terms, Alpha Phi has held recruitment events that have been open to unaffiliated sophomore and junior women. At the end of Spring term, Alpha Phi membership had grown to 18 women from the interest group's original nine members. Now, Alpha Phi's membership is up to 21 members.

The members of Alpha Phi have participated in social events this summer much like any other Greek organization. The colony's events have included a brunch with Alpha Xi Delta sorority and joint Wednesday night meetings with Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority. In addition, Alpha Phi is planning to hold a formal at Bates Mansion with Delta Delta Delta sorority and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity later this month.

Alpha Phi held a brunch earlier this term to raise money for the Alpha Phi Foundation, an organization dedicated to cardiac care, and the colony plans to continue its philanthropy later this month with a kickboxing class in order to raise awareness for cardiac disease.

This summer, Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman arranged for members of Alpha Phi to live together on the third floor of Lord Hall and the members have taken advantage of the setup: Of the 12 members who are on campus this term, eight of them live together in Lord.

In the fall, Alpha Phi members will live on the ground floor of Smith Hall while the Office of Residential Life and Alpha Phi continue to work toward finding a permanent plant for the colony.

"We're hoping it's just a year, or two even at the most, but it's hard to say," Keene said.

The Alpha Phi colony will participate in formal rush this fall along with Dartmouth's other six sororities. The colony has scouted out various locations on campus at which to hold their rush parties since Alpha Phi does not have a physical plant of its own, and at present, members say the Hanover Inn will be the location of one round. Other locations are still being considered, Keene said.

According to Keene, Alpha Phi will be prepared for the challenges that fall rush will bring.

"We know we'll get a lot of housing questions," she said. Keene explained that the members of Alpha Phi will focus on the benefits of being a founding member of a sorority and will hold events on campus before fall rush "just getting our name out there."

The lack of a physical plant has been the main drawback for the women of Alpha Phi.

"Probably the only obstacle is answering the 'where is your physical plant' question, which is a small problem in the scheme of things," member Elise Krieger '08 said.

She added that the members know that not having a house works against them when trying to recruit new members,"but it's a matter of time," she said. "Housing doesn't appear out of anywhere."

Member Lauren Orr '08 agreed that not having a house is a nuisance, but said that the members are happy with how hard the administration and national sorority are working for the cause.

"It's definitely in the forefront of our minds," Orr said. "We're working on it, every time national comes [to Dartmouth]."

Another problem that the members of Alpha Phi have encountered is a lack of name recognition around campus.

"There are still people who are like, 'There's a seventh sorority? That actually happened?'" Orr said.

Member Cece Zhang '08 has encountered similar ignorance around campus.

"Some guy asked me how I got into the black fraternity," Zhang said, explaining that Dartmouth community members nominally confuse the Alpha Phi women with the men of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Alpha Phi will remain a colony until College administrators and Alpha Phi's national organization agree that the colony has enough members and training to stand on its own.

"We don't have a set time period," Keene said. "It's really important that we just make sure we have a strong group of girls to become a chapter."

Although no date is set for Alpha Phi's installation, Keene said the colony is on track and the ceremonial weekend will likely take place in the beginning of Winter term.

"We're exactly where we want to be," she said.

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