Sorority leaders pitch event attendance policy

Sorority leadership is pushing forward the first ever attendance policy for community-wide events to address lackluster participation at programs this year.

Chapter presidents will vote next week on bylaw changes that would require at least 10 percent of chapter members to participate in events sponsored by the Panhellenic Association starting next fall. Under the current proposal, events would be ranked by importance using a three-point system, requiring as much as 30 percent of a chapter’s membership to attend the most important events – such as the annual series of Greek Week programs.

Panhellenic leadership proposed barring sororities that do not meet participation requirements from hosting events – such as chapter’s annual formal party – registered with the Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education, which allows chapters to serve alcohol. But the association will consider alternative penalties, such as a fine, after several sororities raised concerns to the executive board.

The policy would also give an additional point to sororities that exceed the event’s participation mandate. Those points can be applied to future events in which fewer chapter members are interested or available to attend.

“Every chapter has problems with attendance because their members are so involved [outside of Greek life],” Panhellenic Association President Rachael Abram said. “Chapters that use a point system have been successful.”

She said despite efforts by the executive board to boost programming and bring relevant speakers at Panhellenic Association events, attendance has been flat.

Last week, the organization hosted the founder of the nonprofit Circle of Sisterhood – which aims to rally sororities to unhinge gender barriers to education. But the 250-person lecture hall in Funger Hall remained more than half-empty, she said.

At least six sororities – Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, Kappa Delta, Sigma Delta Tau, Sigma Kappa and Pi Beta Phi – have already established their own point systems to increase participation at Greek life events.

Sigma Delta Tau uses a similar three-point system to ensure their members attend at least one-third of events during the semester – ranging from study hours to guest speakers to Panhellenic events.

“Our point system does a good job attracting our sisters to certain events,” Sigma Delta Tau president Liel Azoolin said. “But I don’t know how [a Panhellenic attendance policy] will affect our attendance.”

Azoolin commended the Panhellenic Association’s leadership for organizing “great programs” this year, but attributed lackluster attendance at those events to a lack of involvement beyond sorority sisters’ own chapters.

The new policy also addresses what Abram sees as the deeper source of the problem: perception of the Panhellenic Association. Many members still see the Panhellenic Association as charged solely with recruitment, rules and discipline, she said.

Abram said she hopes the new attendance policy will encourage sorority sisters to be “more than our letters.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.