The spirit of sisterhood can be immense and at the University of La Verne it is flourishing. Recently the addition of a new sorority was approved for campus. After long deliberation, it was decided that the national organization, Alpha Omicron Pi, would be the perfect compliment to the already strong presence of Greek life at ULV.
“Alpha Omicron Pi brings something different to the campus,” said Valerie Shather, CPA president and member of the expansion team. “They are going to be excellent for La Verne.”
The current sororities of ULV, Sigma Kappa, Phi Sigma Sigma and Iota Delta, decided that more room might be needed to accommodate the rise in female students interested in Greek life this year. Yet, the sudden jump in curiosity wasn’t all that unexpected.
“When I arrived here at the University of La Verne there wasn’t a whole lot of interest in sorority life; I found that most people didn’t know about the benefits,” said Chip West, director of the office of student life. “So we begin to do some target marketing in an attempt to update the image and it took off well; we had a huge spike in the number of women interested in sororities.”
The first year following this awareness campaign led to the number of prospective sorority members nearly doubling, going from a mere 30 female students to 80. This year proved to be just as impressive with 140 members of ULV’s female population responding to the call of Greek life.
“For a while, Greek life wasn’t so hot in La Verne,” said Janahlyn Valenzuela, ULV senior and member of the expansion team. “I hope more women will give it a chance.”
ULV sent out itinerary to 24 national Greek organizations in the hopes that a few might express interest in starting a new chapter on campus. From there, the 10 respondents were whittled down to two. Both of the organizations came to the campus to be interviewed and participated in an open forums where students were welcome to come and ask questions.
“We had great a turnout, about 60 to 70 people came for each one of the events,” West said. “There’s always a certain amount of excitement when you get the chance to be part of something new.”
Several factors led to the final decision of Alpha Omicron Pi, from their dedication to empowering women to their experience in working with small institutions, but in the end it may have just been their level of preparedness.
“We felt that they were fully equipped to handle the job of establishing a new sorority here on campus,” Shather said.
Some of the top reasons Alpha Omicron Pi made the final cut included: chapters that are located nearby, such as Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton; thousands of alumni in the area and a list of 12 women who are already willing to serve as the alumni board and dedicate themselves to running the ULV chapter.
“These women had their stuff together; they were warm, friendly, and very eager to work with our school and our Greek community,” Valenzuela said
According to the Alpha Omicron Pi mission statement, they are devoted to “promoting friendship for a lifetime, inspiring academic excellence and lifelong learning, and developing leadership skills through service to the fraternity and community.”
“They impressed us,” West said. “They really want to be a vehicle for women to grow and become better leaders.”
Alpha Omicron Pi has been working to meet the five core ideals of service, academic leadership, social activities and sisterhood since 1897. Their international philanthropy supports arthritis, juvenile arthritis and related diseases. However, their chapters have participated in projects with a multitude of organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, the Boys and Girls Club and Ronald McDonald House. Alpha Omicron Pi is expected to begin their chapter in Fall 2006.
“They offer something different for women who may be interested in sorority now, but do not feel the current sororities have what they want,” Valenzuela said. “AOII is the best choice because they are so strong nationally and will really bring a new flavor to the Greek Community.”
Christine Collier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.