When asked to describe herself, senior Hilary Nicholson stated that she is “a biochem major hoping to write a high honors thesis, a member of ballroom dancing, a classics enthusiast and also the president of the Panhellenic Sorority Board.”
Like most of the women at Colgate involved in Greek Life, Nicholson considers her sorority affiliation to be only one part of her long list of involvements. “Greek Life is a part of what I do, not who I am,” Nicholson said.
Unlike at many universities, Colgate delays sorority and fraternity recruitment until sophomore year, giving students the chance to figure out who they want to be at college before considering Greek Life. In doing so, recruitment allows students to find a chapter that fits their college identity, rather than trying to fit into a particular chapter.
Greek Life offers opportunities to meet new people within each chapter and outside of them from different social circles they might otherwise not have crossed paths with.
And like any other club or sport, it offers the chance to interact with like-minded people while still maintaining previous friendships. Nicholson stresses this point.
“I still live with my freshman year roommate who is the Vice President of Kappa Kappa Gamma,” Nicholson said. “Joining a sorority has added to my list of activities, but it hasn’t taken away from my outside friendships or involvements.”
Contrary to the stereotypical Greek houses we see in the movies, sisterhood and philanthropy events are central to the sorority experience at Colgate. Though philanthropy is required of each chapter, it is far from a chore.
Many women in the Greek system feel this way, and have gone on to continue with philanthropic efforts even after graduation. Kappa Kappa Gamma alumna Kathryn Everett has gone on to work for the LA nonprofit Artists for Peace and Justice, which is presently working to provide schools, clean water and medical care in Haiti.
According to Delta Delta Delta President Jen Griffin, several recent Tri Delta alumnae have gone on to work for the Peace Corps, including one presently in Tonga and one in Mongolia, and numerous others have continued working with philanthropy and service organizations.
One of the current Tri Delta members, Maggie Dunne, has even taken the initiative to start her own NGO to support the Lakota Pine Ridge children of South Dakota.
“I think this just goes to show how genuine the sorority commitment to philanthropy really is both during our undergraduate and postgraduate experience,” Griffin said.
In addition to including girls involved in all organizations across the Colgate community, the Colgate chapter of the National Panhellenic Conference is working to increase diversity.
Last semester, recruitment information sessions were held in every freshman dorm (including the HRC), as well as in ALANA, Love Auditorium and the COOP as neutral areas to gather and ask questions.
The Board also held meetings with various minority organizations on campus to discuss ways to increase diversity in sororities and is continuing these efforts by collaborating with many of these organizations on initiatives such as Unity Week with the Black Student Union, a safe elective sex promotion with SORT and Sorella and collaborating with the Colgate Christian Fellowship to bring a speaker who lectures about overachievement.
In an effort to be as inclusive as possible, the Colgate Board of Trustees established a rule in 1991 guaranteeing a bid to any eligible woman who participates fully in the formal recruitment process.
Additionally, each individual sorority chapter revised their nondiscrimination clauses in the spring to ensure continued inclusion of a diverse group of women in the Greek system. On behalf of all three sororities on campus, the Colgate Panhellenic Board would like to ensure that we continue working to maintain a positive environment for all of the women at Colgate and we will continue to build solid working relationships with other organizations on campus so that we may help to combat campus wide concerns endemic to the university’s current culture, such as diversity or inclusion.
As we prepare for the formal Sorority Recruitment process this weekend, we are extremely excited by the 304 potential new members interested in membership in our three Panhellenic Sororities. I hope that they all find, as I have, that our Greek system is a strong, vibrant and diverse group of extraordinary women that represent all aspects of the Colgate community.
Contact Bridget Cronin at