Greek membership on VCU campus growing

Alpha Gamma Delta sorority members (from left to right) Maggie Marshall, Laura Indingaro, Catherine Chop, Kelsey Stewart at the Bid Day ceremony for CPC sororities on Sept. 18 in the Commons Plaza. Alpha Gamma Delta welcomed 42 new members - the largest pledge class they've had. About 350 students signed up for CPC recruitment this year, a larger number than all members of CPC sororities combined before recruitment. Photo by Sophia Li.

Jessica Dahlberg
Contributing Writer

Commonwealth Times’ Twitter

Alpha Gamma Delta sorority members (from left to right) Maggie Marshall, Laura Indingaro, Catherine Chop, Kelsey Stewart at the Bid Day ceremony for CPC sororities on Sept. 18 in the Commons Plaza. Alpha Gamma Delta welcomed 42 new members - the largest pledge class they've had. About 350 students signed up for CPC recruitment this year, a larger number than all members of CPC sororities combined before recruitment. Photo by Sophia Li.

With a window in the Commons decorated in various sororities’ and fraternities’ letters, the Greek community’s presence on the VCU campus is hard to ignore. It’s not that the groups are hyper-visible though; it’s because compared to past years, VCU’s Greek community is thriving, with more students than ever before.

According to the VCU Coordinator for Fraternity and Sorority Life, Brooke Isbell, VCU has one of the fastest growing sorority and fraternity communities in the country, with a projected fall semester membership of 1,200 students in 37 different chapters.

In fall 2006, VCU Greek Life had 437 participating students and 17 chapters.

“In five years, (membership) almost tripled, and the chapters available (to students) have doubled,” associate director for programs and educational services, Carolyn Whittier said.

Whittier said this startling statistic is directly related to the professional staff helping to build a healthy sorority and fraternity community  foundation to build themselves upon.

Prior to April 2009, VCU’s Greek community was a wide diversity of chapters with no universal standards to unify them.

However, on April 14, 2009, all chapters adopted the Shared Standards, a set of universal expectations meant “to provide a framework by which chapters can quantify and document their activities and successes while creating a tool by which fraternities and sororities can be evaluated,” according to the document.

The Shared Standards were created and adopted by the students within the Greek community.

“VCU is the only campus in the nation that has a peer-student set of standards and accountability,” Whittier said.

With the framework in place, the communities began to grow and are expected to keep growing.

Currently, there are four councils at VCU: the College PanHellenic Council (CPC), the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the Interfraternity Council (IFC), each with new chapters on the way.

Isbell said the CPC is the largest council on campus. The CPC is the umbrella organization for Alpha Epsilon Phi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Phi Mu, Phi Sigma Rho, Phi Sigma Sigma and Sigma Sigma Sigma sororities.

The CPC is in the process of adding Zeta Tau Alpha this semester. After their promotional period, which ends on Oct. 4, they will be another addition to the Greek community on campus.

The IFC is also adding the Triangle Fraternity this semester, which is an organization for men in engineering and science, and the fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha in the spring semester.

Overall, VCU’s Greek community plans to have an additional 10 chapters added by 2015.

Whittier said the growth is necessary because VCU needs a Greek community that is proportional with the large student body. According to Whittier, a sorority or fraternity could be just what new students need. “(The Greek community) gives a comprehensive college experience,” she said.

Sororities and fraternities can offer the social, athletic, service work and leadership roles students seek, all in one organization, she added.

Vina Phomsopha, an alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority sister, said being part of the group has given her more opportunities than one might expect.

“I … received my internship through (alpha Kappa Delta Phi) as a market intern last summer.”

Isbell does caution that the life-long commitment to Greek life is not suitable for every student.

“You need to know yourself and understand the financial commitment.”

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