Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor
Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee has repeatedly said Greek life should be bigger at Ohio State, and with the addition of a new sorority to campus in the coming year, his vision will become reality.
“Our goal is to grow our fraternity (and) sorority system to be about 15 percent of our undergraduate student body,” Gee said in a March 25 interview with The Lantern editorial staff. “It is at about 8 or 9 percent right now, and our numbers are going up, and I think that’s healthy for the overall system.”
It was decided earlier this spring that Gamma Phi Beta will return to OSU’s campus after almost 50 years.
The Beta Xi chapter was once a part of OSU’s Greek system, but a lack of interest caused it to disband in 1967. However, the sorority is set to recolonize on campus, opening up the opportunity for more women to join the Greek community.
The chapter was originally chartered at OSU in April 1951, but 16 years later the sorority’s low numbers led the members to relinquish their charter, said Whitney Brady, director of sorority growth for the Gamma Phi Beta International Sorority.
However, when OSU Greeks decided this year there was a need for a new sorority, Gamma Phi Beta received its chance to return to campus.
Jessica Braddock, a third-year in accounting and president of OSU’s Panhellenic Association, said a committee of Greek members looked at a variety of factors when deciding to add a new chapter to campus, including past recruitment statistics and if the Greek community at OSU is growing. Those elements caused them to recommend that OSU be open for expansion.
The National Panhellenic Conference was subsequently notified of the decision, and OSU requested materials on brand, plans for housing, alumni support and headquarters support from potential sororities.
After careful consideration, two organizations that had previously been established on campus were invited to present to OSU Greek members. The Panhellenic Association voted to bring Gamma Phi Beta to OSU.
“As an organization we were thrilled to have an opportunity to return to Ohio State,” Brady said. “We enjoyed all of the students we interacted (with), as well as staff and administration and couldn’t be more excited about the partnership that Gamma Phi Beta and the university will be able to have in the future. Being able to give the Gamma Phi Beta experience to Ohio State students is something that we’re very excited about and alumni in the area are really thrilled as well.”
The sorority will take part in the first round of formal recruitment at the start of Spring Semester 2014, Braddock said, and the chapter will then be responsible for marketing the organization. After other sororities have accepted their newest members, Gamma Phi Beta will do personal interviews and select a founding pledge class. Housing for the sorority will be established by fall 2014.
While the chapter might face potential problems, such as some women’s hesitancy to join an establishing organization, Gamma Phi Beta’s recolonization will also have some advantages, Braddock said.
“Ultimately, they’ll make sure the other chapters are on their toes when it comes to recruiting,” Braddock said.
OSU is currently home to 14 PHA sorority chapters and two associate chapters that totals more than 2,000 members, according to the PHA website. Gee said more than 1,000 woman went through formal recruitment earlier this semester.
One student who has expressed interest in membership is Brooke Holtz, a third-year in communication. Holtz joined Gamma Phi Beta at John Carroll University near Cleveland before transferring to OSU, but because the sorority was not established at OSU, she chose to stay involved by becoming the alumni chapter president of Columbus.
As soon as Gamma Phi Beta comes to campus, Holtz said, she is going to pass on the presidency to someone in Columbus and become a collegiate member of the chapter.
“I can’t wait for Gamma Phi to become a Buckeye again and rejoin Ohio State,” Holtz said.
Megan Kasarda, a third-year in strategic communication and history and OSU Panhellenic Association vice president of recruitment and retention, will help the sorority throughout the establishing process and get it to chapter size. She said she is thrilled that she has the chance to take part.
“There definitely was a need for another sorority, and it’s really going to help with distributing all the women that are going through,” Kasarda said. “I think it’s great that more people are going to be able to find a place in Ohio State Greek life because of it.”