Panhel announces new campus sorority chapter due to growing student interest

The Women’s Panhellenic Association voted 7-1 on Wednesday night to invite and establish a new, undetermined sorority chapter on campus.

Sorority members show enthusiasm during bid day in January. With the increased number of women participating in this year's recruitment process, more did not receive a bid than in past years.Brian Benton | Student Life

Sorority members show enthusiasm during bid day in January. With the increased number of women participating in this year’s recruitment process, more did not receive a bid than in past years.

An increase in women participating in the sorority recruitment process left many candidates without bids this year. In an effort to keep up with the growth of the undergraduate population and recruiting classes, Panhel Exec brought the proposal for a new chapter to delegates from each of Washington University’s eight sorority chapters for a vote.

The new sorority, which will be chosen by May 1 and officially arrive on campus after the end of formal recruitment in January 2016, will be the newest addition to women’s Greek life since Kappa Delta was established at the University in 2013.

Panhel President and junior Ally Brabant said that the idea for a new chapter came after this year’s high recruitment numbers.

“During recruitment this past year, I saw how big it was, how unmanageable it was to even run recruitment, so that’s what kind of planted the idea in my head,” Brabant said.

According to Brabant, the average chapter size for the eight sororities currently on campus—176—is an increase of 90 percent from eight years ago and 34 percent since Kappa Delta’s arrival on campus. This year’s new pledge classes alone averaged 52 members.

“The number of people going through recruitment has grown exponentially, and the number of people getting into sororities has also grown exponentially to the point where sororities are just becoming too large,” Brabant said.

Sophomore Abbey Maxbauer, vice president of marketing for Panhel, said the increasing number of girls rushing who do not receive bids played a large part in the decision.

“I think it’s really great that the new chapter can get here so fast. It is really rushed, but at the same time, why not when we have a need or kind of an increasing demand for sororities—I think the sooner the better,” Maxbauer said.

Unlike Kappa Delta, which came to the University two years after Panhel’s initial decision to create a chapter on campus, the new sorority chapter will have less than a year to prepare for its arrival. Next January, Brabant said, it will start recruiting immediately after the formal recruitment process ends with bid day.

The new chapter will be chosen by a committee of Panhel members, including Brabant. Brabant outlined that applications from interested national chapters will be due by March 27 and narrowed to two or three finalists, whose representatives will visit campus in April and present their pitches.

Factors included in the decision will include the chapters’ national pitches and community service efforts.

“A big thing for me is I want to make sure that their national and local philanthropies will be things that are really beneficial to our community, so that’s a huge part of it,” Maxbauer said.

The two Panhellenic leaders stressed that they do not have any chapters in mind for the new slot and that any interested chapter has an equal chance at being chosen.

“I think the biggest thing we want people to know is that there’s not one chapter that’s more likely to come than any other, because there’s definitely been some misconceptions and some rumors about that,” Maxbauer said.

Zach Kram, Megan Magray and Derek Shyr contributed to this report.