After more than 10 percent of Harvard’s female freshmen, sophomores, and juniors chose to rush sororities for the past two years, Harvard’s female Greek organizations plan to bring a fourth sorority to Cambridge.
The three present sororities are in the nascent stages of choosing which sorority will join their ranks at Harvard.
According to members of the sororities who have been informed of the news, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Kappa Kappa Gamma have embarked on a multi-step process to identify a sorority that will improve Greek life. When Kappa Kappa Gamma, the most recent addition to Harvard’s Greek scene, came to campus in 2003, the two other sororities worked with the National Panhellenic Council—the coordinating body for 26 international women’s fraternities and sororities—to pick Kappa.
For the past year, chapter leaders entertained the idea of adding a fourth sorority due to the high number of women who have rushed over the past two seasons. In 2011, a record-high 268 girls rushed—the largest rush class in the College’s history. This season, about 250 women rushed. The slight drop did not deter Janet M. Yarboi ’12, president of the Panhellenic Council, from expressing hope for a fourth sorority.
“If interest still continues to be this high, we want to accommodate as many people as possible,” Yarboi told The Crimson at the conclusion of the 2012 rush process.
Carolina I. Ragolta '13, president of Delta Gamma, declined to comment on the formation of a fourth sorority but wrote in an email, “In an environment as demanding and stressful as Harvard, it doesn't surprise me that more women want to be part of such a phenomenal community.”
The presidents of Kappa Alpha Theta and Kappa Kappa Gamma could not be reached for comment. Taylor A. Compton ’13, the current president of the Panhellenic Council, declined to comment.
Harvard is not alone in seeing increased interest in Greek life. Last year, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and Cornell all voted to bring another sorority to their campuses.
Cabot House Master Stephanie R. Khurana—who served as president of Cornell’s Panhellenic Council as an undergraduate and as a member of Cornell’s Fraternity and Sorority Advisory Council as an alumna—said that Harvard’s House system creates a “unique community” that can serve as an alternative to Greek life. “I think it’s important to keep in mind some of the broader goals of fostering Harvard’s unique ability to create a strong undergraduate community through its residential house system,” Khurana wrote in an email.
Khurana, who has previously spoken out against adding a fourth sorority when the option was discussed, said she was unaware that it is now in the works.
As has been Harvard practice since the first sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, came to Harvard in 1993, Harvard will not recognize Greek organizations that “discriminate” and have off-campus parent organizations, according to Dean of Student Life Suzy M. Nelson.
Nelson wrote in an email that the University will continue to meet with the groups’ leaders every semester to ensure that they comply with the Student Handbook.
Delta Gamma followed Theta to Harvard one year later. Two of Harvard’s three fraternities—Sigma Chi in 1989 and Alpha Epsilon Pi in 1998—are modern additions, but Sigma Alpha Epsilon has a longer history at Harvard, dating back to 1893.
—Staff writer Nathalie R. Miraval can be reached at email@example.com.