Going Greek with new orgs

For some UCSD students, Greek life is important. Sometimes, however, the ideal Greek organization is hard to find on the UCSD campus. Thus, some students look into the idea of bringing in another nationally based organization or starting a sorority or fraternity of their own. This process is largely dependent upon the UCSD Greek community’s ability to expand.

“”The expansion of Greek life is an extensive process,”” said Greek Adviser Lauren Weiner. “”It usually takes one to one and a half years.””

The amount of support from local alumni of a particular sorority or fraternity helps to determine whether a nationally based Greek organization is brought to UCSD, and these patrons continue to support new groups even after they have established themselves. Every year, as each organization says goodbye to a graduating class, its alumni base grows, adding to the amount of alumni support it can receive.

Tau Gamma Alpha is the newest sorority to have been formed at UCSD. Last year, sophomores Shelley Sorger and Sarah Misraji decided to form a new Greek organization with a mission statement that was different from other sororities.

“”We wanted to create a place on campus where the Jewish community could come together, feel at home, and where Jewish issues could survive without compromising their values,”” said Sorger, who is now co-president of the sorority with Misraji.

Starting the sorority was not an easy task. Because it is a local, rather than national sorority, Sorger and Misraji had to start their organization from scratch, with no alumni support.

“”Once [the Greek community] realized we were serious, that we had a group of girls who were interested, and that we would be adding to Greek life, then we came up with a philanthropy, sisterhood and put together what we wanted to see with our sorority,”” Sorger said. She and Misraji worked very closely with Weiner to organize the new sorority.

On April 19, 2002, after Sorger and Misraji completed their Constitution, Tau Gamma Alpha became an associate member of Panhellenic, the governing council of campus sororities. Members of Tau Gamma Alpha are part of the council, but because the organization is not an official member, they cannot vote.

Sorger and Misraji united 18 women of all class levels to be the founding class of their sorority. Sorger credits the enthusiasm of her sorority sisters for making the organization a reality.

“”They are taking ownership of the new sorority and are creating new beginnings,”” Sorger said.

In its first year, the sorority has already been involved with sisterhoods, philanthropies, service projects and education programs.

As a new local sorority, the sisters must create traditions and events that will form legacies. They must learn to fit into the Greek community and create an identity as a sorority. So far, they think they have made progress.

“”We are fortunate to be a part of both the Jewish community and the Greek community,”” Sorger said.

Sorger has high hopes for Tau Gamma Alpha. While it is still a local sorority, the girls hope to reach out and eventually achieve a larger status.

Weiner believes that the sorority will succeed.

“”[Its success] says a lot,”” she said. “”It is definitely going to be strong.””

To initiate the expansion process that would add nationally based organizations of a certain sorority or fraternity, the three governing councils, Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic and the Multicultural Greek Council, will have to conduct a vote. If they agree to look into expansion, they will create an exploratory committee, and letters will be sent to all of the national Greek organizations. The committee will then wait for responses and receive criteria for choosing the new fraternities or sororities. The strength of support the new organization receives from alumni groups is important in determining its strength and contributes to the success of new organizations striving to become a part of the UCSD Greek community through the expansion process.

The expansion of Greek life is not always successful. The last time the IFC considered expansion was about four years ago, when nationally based Delta Epsilon attempted to join the Greek community at UCSD. However, due to the lack of support from alumni and the campus Greek system, the expansion did not succeed.

Once an organization has joined the campus Greek community, it receives strong support from other fraternities and sororities.

“”We have not lost any sororities or fraternities,”” Weiner said.

Greek organizations often rely on efficient recruitment periods, known as rush, which introduce new members to their group to keep their numbers high.

“”When you expand, you get a lot of younger guys who are really motivated,”” said Pi Kappa Alpha member Anu Shome. “”In the past year, [every fraternity] has gotten stronger, and the rush numbers are going up.””

Currently, there are 17 sororities and 16 fraternities at UCSD. Although UCSD’s Greek system is relatively young, having began about two decades ago, it has the potential to maintain a growing presence on campus. Greek life, making up the largest student organization on campus with 10 percent of the student population involved, focuses on brotherhood/sisterhood, scholarship, leadership and service. Members have participated in various campus activities, which, they say, help them become more well-rounded individuals.

Some of these organizations have chosen to maintain low numbers to help develop a stronger sisterhood or brotherhood. With the uniqueness and diversity of Greek organizations on campus, anyone looking to rush may be able to find an appropriate fraternity or sorority.

“”There is definitely something for everyone within the system,”” Weiner said. And if there is not, then interested students can consider starting a local organization or the campus Greek community can look into bringing in another national organization.