The USF sorority community will have a baby sister to add to its family come the fall. In April, the USF Panhellenic board voted to adopt Sigma Kappa as its newest member on campus.
Founded Nov. 9, 1874 at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, Sigma Kappa is like many sororities on campus. The sisters value friendship, personal growth, service and loyalty.
“It’s not that they were different, it’s more that they actually meshed with the type of community we already have,” said Victoria Hetman, USF senior Panhellenic executive board member and vice president of recruitment.
Last fall, the USF Panhellenic board voted to open for extension. Extension is the process by which a sorority or fraternity joins a university. In other words, USF was inviting a new sorority to campus. After researching the student life at USF and how the university views Greek life, Sigma Kappa decided to make a bid.
The national director of extension at Sigma Kappa, Melinda Mettler, explained how the sorority was considered.
“We actually made a trip to campus and we really realized that USF was a good fit for Sigma Kappa,” Mettler said. “Any sorority that is interested has to submit a packet of materials, so we submitted a packet of materials to USF’s Panhellenic community.”
From the different packets of materials received, only three sororities were chosen as finalists to come to USF in order to give a presentation before the final decision was made.
“We gave a presentation in March and then we were notified shortly after that the Panhellenic community had selected us, so we are very excited to be the chosen group,” Mettler said.
Sigma Kappa has over 152,000 members across 116 collegiate and 120 alumni chapters. The number of chapters is expected to increase as schools accept the sorority into their Greek life communities.
There are nine sororities currently sitting on the Panhellenic Council, per the website for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
What sets Sigma Kappa apart, Mettler said, is its commitment to philanthropic pursuits in Alzheimer’s disease research. In 2014, the sorority raised $444,000 during the national Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Since 1984, Sigma Kappa has raised over $2 million toward research for Alzheimer’s.
“We love chapters that are passionate about their philanthropies,” Hetman said. “I don’t know if I would say that’s what determined (getting accepted) or not, but that’s definitely always a pro to see another chapter that’s as passionate about their philanthropies as our chapters are.”
According to Mettler, the future of Sigma Kappa on campus will involve recruitment and outreach with the USF community.
“Starting in the fall, we will actually have staff members — they’re called leadership consultants — they will move to Tampa and they will live there for the entire academic year,” she said.
These paid consultants will be instrumental in getting the word out about Sigma Kappa and are intended to bring a presence to the university in which they are stationed. They are chosen from recent Sigma Kappa graduates, among whom one will be assigned to USF.
Sara Chacon, national vice president for extension at Sigma Kappa, said joining a sorority as a founding member of a chapter gives an individual a certain level of influence over the path a sorority.
“You are getting in at the ground level of developing a new chapter, bringing together women who come from probably different backgrounds and experiences but who are all going to share similar core values, which are our sorority’s values,” Chacon said.