By Rachel Kuipers
For Unwind magazine
After a decade and a half without representation on this campus, Gamma Phi Beta Sorority will rejoin the University of Maryland’s Panhellenic Association in spring 2016.
The sorority will take part in the first round of this spring’s formal recruitment to announce their new presence. After the first day, they will drop out of formal recruitment and begin their own process after the other sororities finish with the typical process. Gamma Phi Beta will have similar steps, called rounds, but those will occur after formal recruitment is complete.
In 2000, the sorority was disbanded at this university. After looking over the numbers of sorority hopefuls, PHA decided there was enough interest in Greek life to add another sorority, said PHA President Vikk Shepelev, a senior international business and marketing major.
Last year, three sororities held presentations to current members of Greek life in hopes of earning the spot as the sixteenth sorority. Throughout the presentation, members discussed what was important to them, their philanthropies and what the Maryland campus could offer them. In the end, Gamma Phi Beta beat Kappa Kappa Gamma and Phi Mu for the spot.
“Gamma Phi Beta has been doing a great job of putting themselves out there, making themselves present on campus and educating people that are there,” Shepelev said. “I think they’re going to move swiftly into everything and I don’t think they’ll have any issues.”
It will take the sorority a while to find a house and situate themselves completely in the community, but their hope is to do so as quickly as possible. With the help they are receiving from alumni and the national organization, it should be a quick turnaround, PHA’s Vice President of Membership Development Cara McNellis said.
“It’s not every day a campus gets to expand,” said McNellis, a senior civil engineering major. “There are campuses all over the country that haven’t gotten a new sorority in years, so it’s awesome [what] we’re doing.”
During the new sorority’s recruitment process, which will be very different than the process for established chapters, the alumni and members of the national organization will spend one-on-one time with potential new members, McNellis said. “It’ll be kind of like a personal interview process. They basically get to interview everyone and hand-pick their colony class.”
The colony class is the first class of members in the new chapter. This group of girls will essentially build this university’s Gamma Phi Beta chapter from the ground up, with the help of the national organization, alumni and girls from other schools’ chapters. Women from Gamma Phi Beta at the University of Delaware have been helping spread the word of the new chapter already, McNellis said.
Junior government and politics major Jessica Maxin said that with rushing any sorority, the best thing for girls to do is “be their authentic selves, because that’s the only way to truly find out if Gamma Phi Beta or any other sorority is good for you.”
Having another sorority will be a great asset to Greek life, she said.
“I definitely think everyone should be able to find their own home in different sororities here, and because there are so many limited spots not everyone has the opportunity to join the Greek community,” Maxin said. “Another sorority on campus will only [increase] the chances for girls to find their place in Greek life.”
“Overall it’s just a very exciting process,” McNellis said.