Of the 27 social fraternities and sororities on campus, Kappa Sigma and Alpha Sigma Tau are Geneseo’s newest Greek organizations. According to Wendi Kinney, coordinator of Greek affairs and off-campus living, roughly 20 percent of Geneseo's student body is affiliated with Greek life. The number of students joining Greek life, both in Geneseo and across the nation, has seen a marked increase in recent years, according to Kinney.
“Kappa Sig is currently considered a colony, which is a new group that’s working toward their requirements for a charter from [international headquarters],” Kinney said. “They have national advisors that train them on how to be the Kappa Sigma fraternity.”
AST was chartered in spring 2013, but this is the organization’s first time participating in spring recruitment with the other national sororities. Kappa Sig started its colony group at the end of fall 2013, so this is also their official spring recruitment.
AST started when four Phi Eta Psi sisters expressed interest in going national. After meeting with national sorority representatives, it was decided that AST aligned most with the group's values.
“I really liked the wide variety of values that AST was representing, and I thought it would be cool to be in something new too,” AST President junior Emily Frawley said. “There’s a big focus on making connections with other people and other organizations, and at the same time, there’s another big focus on intellect and excellence.”
Aside from AST and Kappa Sig, Kinney is not aware of any current organization startups in progress.
“There was interest in a national Christian sorority early last semester, and I know that they held a couple of interest meetings,” she said. “My understanding is they weren’t able to identify a significant enough pool of interested women to start the organization, but I think it’s something they still desire to do.”
At the behest of the National Panhellenic Council, Geneseo's four national sororities now implement quotas for new members, with a maximum of a fourth of the total number of women involved in recruitment on the last day of the process. This new regulation allows for more even distribution of members between organizations, avoiding misconceptions over differences in size and its relation to perceived popularity, according to Kinney.
Kinney stated that there is persistent student interest to start new groups.
“There’s a process by which a new organization gets recognized, and we want to make clear that we are really more willing to recognize a new national organization. There isn’t anything negative about a local group other than it’s a lot of effort to start one from scratch,” she said. “We really value all the tradition and history that we have with our current local groups, but an existing national group can really provide that foundational piece, which includes all that history and tradition.”
In addition to the time and energy that goes into being a new Greek organization, Kinney said, “We are looking for organizations that would be a good match for the high caliber that Geneseo promotes.”
As Greek life continues to expand, Geneseo students continue to strengthen ties within the social community as well as with involvement in extracurricular groups.
“Geneseo students want to get involved … but I think that next step is they want to join something that makes this campus seem smaller and closer,” Kinney said.
“The people that I see joining fraternities and sororities are highly involved … It’s not either or; it’s really an ‘and,’” she said. “There is a lot of cross-membership.”