As the girls of Not Yet Sisters (NYS) prepare to become the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta in the spring, they have started becoming a prominent group on campus. From a mixer with Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon (DU) on November 3 and a Crum Woods cleanup withboth fraternities this past Saturday, NYS’ presence on campus is seemingly that of a sorority.
“When Theta officially comes to campus in the spring, this also will bring more structure for leadership and organization,” NYS Extension Committee’s Ashley Gochoco ’14, Dina Zingaro ’13, Julia Melin ’13, and Paige Grand Pre ’13 said in a collective email interview. “This semester, we have formed fundraising, communications, events and community service committees. At our meetings, we have come up with a number of philanthropic and social events to do on campus, but unfortunately, it’s a great challenge to do such wide-scale events without strong structure and organization. Next spring will allow us to make happen a lot of what we hope to do with other groups on campus.”NYS member Hayat Abu-Samra ’15 agrees that although the group is starting to feel like a cohesive sisterhood, there will be noticeable changes next semester.
“The group is doing lots of things that the official sorority would do,” she said. “Of course, once it’s official in the spring, I’m sure it will feel more solid and active. Currently, it’s not official, we’re just another chartered group on campus, in regards to meetings, community service obligations, et cetera.”
With baked goods, beverages and a cleaned out Phi Psi, the mixer proved the soon-to-be sorority and the fraternities could interact well.“I thought the turnout from all three houses was great,” Phi Psi President Michael Girardi ’13 said. “Everybody walked away from that thinking, ‘Wow, that was a cool group of people,’ no matter which group it was. It had just the right effect.”
DU President Sean Mangus ’13 agrees that the event was a success.
“Our intention was to provide a venue for members of these campus groups to meet one another and begin to build lasting friendships,” he said. “The members of these groups had a great time getting to know one another. Because of this, I hope that when members of these groups collaborate in the future, they will be collaborating as friends achieving a common goal of community and individual improvement.”
Over the past several years, Swarthmore College’s Greek system has grown substantially. DU had only 15 active brothers in 2005. Today, it has over 40 members, with a total of around 100 male students in either of the fraternities. As the Greek life at Swarthmore continues to grow, Girardi hopes people will perceive it better.
“People look at the frats as havens for athletes,” he said. “There is a stigma[…]We’re looked down upon, and we don’t like that. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been trying to change that. In recruitment, we’ve tried to pick up as many non-athletes as possible. I think NYS will definitely help in that regard. Looking around in the mixer, there were a lot of girls who didn’t play sports. It was a nice breath of fresh air.”
Girardi also added that he thinks Kappa Alpha Theta will have a positive reputation because of the people involved.
“An organization is only as good as the people who make it up, and I have really high hopes for them.”
Gochoco, Zingaro, Melin and Grand Pre also hope that Theta will improve the image of Swarthmore’s Greek life, particularly in terms of community service.
“We believe that Theta can contribute a number of unique things to Greek life, but we primarily want to enhance a lot of what the fraternities have been doing in regards to philanthropic work and service to the Swarthmore community,” they said. “Theta will have our own community service project that we will dedicate much of our efforts to. We hope to forge bonds with groups like the WRC, Speak 2 Swatties, Green Advisers and so many other groups on campus so that we can all be supportive and helpful to one another.”
NYS, DU and Phi Psi all expressed interest in continuing to hold events together, both in sorority-fraternity pairs and collaboratively with all three groups. These events could range from social events like the mixer to community service projects similar to the cleanup.
“The collaboration is really important because it will increase the comfort level for a lot of people,” Abu-Samra said. “Whether it’s through community service activities, co-hosting parties, sharing their space with us, or holding campus-wide events, having both genders represented will balance out the Greek scene an enormous amount.”
In addition to forming bonds with the fraternities, NYS’ “Semester Sister” program is an opportunity for the future sisters to get to know each other and support one another academically and mentally.
The next event NYS will co-host is the SwatGlow paint party, which will take place at Phi Psi this coming Saturday. The group also plans to have an all-campus movie screening around finals week and will continue to have sister-bonding activities, such as philanthropic events, potlucks and sleepovers.