Recruitment cap slows sorority growth

Earlier this fall a recruitment cap was placed on the two largest Greek organizations at Marist. Both Sigma Sigma Sigma (ΣΣΣ) and Kappa Kappa Gamma (ΚΚΓ) were unable to recruit members for their respective sororities this fall, which has stifled their membership expansion.

“A mix between too many female students interested in joining and not enough physical space here at Marist has made it impossible for us to hold recruitment this fall,” says the President of Kappa Kappa Gamma Lauren Garner. “According to the National PanHellenic Committee, the cap for Marist’s size is 75 and we have about 85 members, so we simply could not recruit anymore.”

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Group photo of Kappa Kappa Gamma (courtesy of Lauren Garner)

“There is just not enough room to physically host weekly meetings for both these large sororities,” says Dr. Daniel Hoover, the Director of the Office of Student Conduct & Greek Affairs who advises and manages the Greek Life system here at Marist. According to Dr. Hoover, around 380 undergraduate students, or 7% of the undergrad population, of Marist are members of Greek Life. Of the 380 Greeks, 160 are members of Kappa Kappa Gamma and Sigma Sigma Sigma. “Kappa and Tri-Sig are clearly the largest [Greek organizations] on campus especially when you consider that the next largest is Alpha Sigma Tau (ΑΣΤ), a sorority with only around 60 members,” Dr. Hoover went on to explain that he did not believe that Tri-Sigma or Kappa had necessarily over recruited but rather other limitations had stunted their growth.

This brings up the solution of off-campus housing. Unlike other collegiate Greek Life systems, the majority of Greek organizations at Marist do not have houses, a secure location where Greek members can live and hold activities such as weekly meetings. One such fraternity, Theta Delta Chi (ΘΔΧ), does have a house where a large amount of the members live and therefore most people consider those ‘frat houses’. Other than that, generally speaking the four other sororities do not have houses.

In explaining this seemingly unequal difference between the fraternities and sororities, a rumor has been spread around campus that a local Town of Poughkeepsie ordinance claims that if ‘6 or more unrelated females live together in a home, it would be considered a ‘brothel’ and therefore illegal’. Yet upon conducting further research, this rumor appears to be nothing but an urban legend.

According to Pat Cordner, the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, this rumor has developed as a misnomer of another law. “No such ‘brothel law’ exists in either the Town of Poughkeepsie or City of Poughkeepsie housing ordinances. However, there are restrictions on the set number of unrelated people that are allowed to live together in a given residence.”

Relating back to the fraternity with the house, Theta Delta Chi is able to have one house with 12 members living in it thanks to their landlord. “At one time our house was two separate residences, two separate properties,” states former President of Theta Delta Chi Rob Jotantos. “Our landlord bought both of the properties and tore down the houses that were on them. He then built one home that took up both properties and divided it up into four separate residences.” With the large home broken up into four apartments, which each house 3 of the brothers, Theta Delta Chi is able to have a home for their fraternity. This home, and related space to hold fraternity activities such as weekly meetings, has allowed Theta Delta Chi to maintain a policy of open recruitment, where the fraternity is constantly recruiting potential members to join their ranks all year long.

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The Theta Delta Chi house (courtesy of Rob Jotantos)

Restricted by their recruitment cap, sorority leaders of Tri-Sigma and Kappa expect a reduction in the size of their organizations but not all our opposed to it. “I think the recruitment cap is a good idea,” explains former President of Sigma Sigma Sigma Alexandra Kramer. “Too many sisters in the sororities can be very overwhelming and makes it much more difficult for everyone to become closer and really bond. Schools such the University of Delaware have sororities with 300 sisters in it and half of the time they cant recognize one another – doesn’t seem like much of a sisterhood to me!”

With mixed sentiment among Greek organizations facing the recruitment cap, some see this as an opportunity reorganize the sororities and perhaps even add a new one. When looking at the membership numbers of the sororities, Dr. Hoover seems open to the idea of bringing on another sorority. “There has been talk of bringing on another sorority and this may be a solution to problem of membership spacing,”

Yet any Greek Life organization looking to gain a charter here at Marist would face a lot of work and would take at least two to three years before such an organization would gain a charter. In addition, sororities at Marist face rules and regulations that fraternities do not. When asked what the major difference between fraternities and sororities at Marist was, Dr. Hoover pushed back his chair and perused the bookshelf just left of his desk. After searching for a few seconds, he pulled out a very large binder full of papers. “These are the rules and regulations for sororities at Marist,” he explained. “I have no rulebook for the fraternities.”

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