Kappa Alpha Theta is a founding member of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) and greatly values our relationships with our sister NPC groups. As NPC women, we know how important the sorority experience is, and we advocate for it every day. Our entire sorority experience is shaped by the Panhellenic sisters who stand beside us. Through good times and bad, we are all bonded by the common experience of sorority.
The sorority experience is unlike any other, and we all had different reasons for joining Kappa Alpha Theta. Some of us were legacies trying to follow in our family members' footsteps, some of us were new to the entire experience and some of us were unsure but attended recruitment anyway. Whatever your reasons for joining, your reasons for staying and becoming a leader in your chapter and the Panhellenic community are entirely different. NPC wants to recognize and celebrate these differences.
TheSororityLife.com is a website created by NPC that provides potential new members the "real deal" on sorority life. By submitting a college lifestyle profile, you will be able to showcase your sorority experience while also having an impact on future sorority women. The profile is easy to fill out and doesn't take longer than 10 minutes. This is a great way to promote Theta on an international scale.
So what are you waiting for? Inspire young women today by filling out the "My College Lifestyle" profile on TheSororityLife.com. At the end of the profile application, feel free to take a few minutes to share your story on video.
Scholarship has always been a central tenant for the members of Kappa Alpha Theta, and indeed is one of our core values. Our founders came together, in part, as a mutual support system in an incredibly arduous environment. They encouraged one another in academic pursuits and challenged one another and all future members to achieve their personal best in the classroom.
Even more than a half-century after our founding, Bettie Locke Hamilton was still stressing the importance of scholarship. In a letter sent to the Alpha Psi Chapter at Lawrence in 1926, Bettie shared a message that has been a "North Star" for Thetas over many generations "...and try above all things to keep up a high standard of Scholarship - nothing will elevate K.A.O. like wonderful Scholarship!"
How true her words were then, and they remain so today! Kappa Alpha Theta chapters enjoy remarkable success with more than one-quarter of our college chapters achieving the number-one ranking on their campus in terms of grades and more than three-quarters of our college chapters being above the all-sorority average (ASA) on their campuses. Of course, there are also many members who have been recognized for their remarkable individual achievement over the last 147 years.
Against the backdrop of our founding, many other Greek-letter organizations for women were also starting and spreading across the nation. In 1902, seven groups organized to form the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). From 1903-1951, even more Greek-letter organizations for women joined NPC, eventually totaling 26.
The Panhellenic Creed, which each member group supports, states: "We the undergraduate members of women's fraternities, stand for good scholarship, for guarding of good health, for maintenance of fine standards, and for serving, to the best of our ability, our college community."
A commitment to academic excellence for members of Kappa Alpha Theta and the other NPC groups results in success for individual members and their chapters. This, in turn, encourages all women to reach their potential both inside and outside the classroom. Intellectual development includes all cultural, practical, recreational, political and social aspects of life and is echoed in Theta's mission of offering lifelong opportunities for intellectual growth.
Please join me in celebrating the Year of Scholarship. I'm proud that Thetas are leading women in this area and have been since 1870.
I hope you will be heartened, as I was, by this video, which was released on Monday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). It powerfully explains why this attempt by Harvard to foster inclusion actually threatens students' freedom of association while doing nothing to further its proclaimed goal of preventing sexual assault.
Be assured that we are determined to defend our right to organize as a single-gender organization and to promote the value of fraternity membership. We are committed to working collaboratively with not only our sister National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) groups, but also with like-minded professors, campus administrators, and lawmakers.
We need your help in this vital effort! If you have connections to US congressional representatives or senators, Harvard faculty or administrators, or Harvard's governing boards, we ask that you forward their names and any contact information to Laurie McGregor Connor, Theta's director of government relations. We will keep you informed about future developments and how you might assist as we progress.
A point of pride for me—and, I suspect, for many other Thetas—is the role that our founders played in proving that female students could not only survive but also thrive in higher education. Although Bettie, Alice, Hannah, and Bettie studied with distinction and graduated with honors, their early college years were not easy. At best, they were ignored and excluded by male students, professors, and administrators; at worst, they met with more active disapproval.
In response to their hostile environment, Theta's founders sought to create a welcoming, supportive, empowering community for themselves and the women who would follow them into college. And so—on January 27, 1870—Kappa Alpha Theta was born. As Bettie Locke once said, "[w]e realized somehow that we weren't going to college just for ourselves, but for all the girls who would follow after us, if we could just win out." I know these leading women would be proud to know that women now outperform men in obtaining degrees from American colleges and universities by a factor of nearly 50 percent.
In the century and a half since our founders first walked into the chapel at Indiana Asbury to the protests of stomping feet, we and our sister fraternities and sororities have proven our worth time and time again. On college campuses that can be impersonal and stressful, we provide powerful spaces of support. We offer women opportunities to experience leadership, friendship, mentorship, and community service. (On average, each Theta alumna and collegian devoted 92 hours of service last year.) Our alumnae have excelled in all fields of endeavor, from athletics to aerospace, from law to literature, from music to medicine. In many cases, their endeavors were supported by the $600,000-plus we award in scholarships each year.
That is why I—and, I suspect, many other Thetas—were stunned by breaking news from Harvard University last weekend. The university administration's decision to sanction members of single-gender organizations is touted as a response to the recommendations of a report on sexual assault prevention. Instead, as outlined in a response co-authored by the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the plan to penalize young women for their involvement in a sorority actually denies them access to member-driven education and support systems shown to be effective in battling sexual assault, as well as alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and the everyday challenges of college life.
Nearly 150 years after Theta's founding, it is disheartening to learn that some in higher education still do not regard female students as intelligent, independent adults with the ability to make their own decisions. It is even more discouraging to learn that the first female president of Harvard seems to have forgotten the women of Harvard. And it is distressing that, adding insult to injury, this assault was launched on the day final exams began, when students are perhaps their most vulnerable. One wonders where or if Harvard will draw the line in dictating the extracurricular activities of its students.
Along with our colleagues in NPC, the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO), and the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA), we will continue to urge Harvard to reconsider this policy and we will support the members of our Zeta Xi Chapter as they advocate for their freedom to choose their associations.
If you would like to share your personal experience of finding sisterhood and support within Theta—whether as a collegian or an alumna—please send it via email to email@example.com. We will seek permission before publishing or posting online.
Back in the days of balloon arches, ice sculptures, and matching dresses, the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) began to discuss the idea of having a more genuine process to find the newest members of our organizations - one less focused on excess and frills. The goal was to identify ways to make our recruiting process focus on authentic connections with potential new members (PNMs), rather than decorations, clothing, and entertainment. Would you believe that this conversation first began within NPC in 1989?
Over the past 27 years, NPC and its 26 member organizations have attempted to shift the culture of "rush" to a process rooted in the values of our organizations. The idea of "No Frills" recruitment made an impact on many campuses and led to chapters across the country eliminating the "excess" from the recruitment process, but there is still work to be done. In 2015, NPC renewed its commitment to the idea of more genuine recruiting and strengthened the previous No Frills Recruitment Policy by replacing it with the Values-Based Recruitment Policy. You can read this policy in full on the NPC website.
Kappa Alpha Theta's mission is rooted in our core values. When we spend our time recruiting members using bubbles, glitter, and elaborate decorations, PNMs join our organization looking for the stereotypical sorority experience that is often portrayed in the media. We claim to be an organization that is rooted in our values, but our recruitment tactics have not always reflected our commitment to our mission. The focus on values-based recruiting allows us to sell Theta for what we really are: a collective group of women actively engaged in each other's lives and within the community.
Data collected by NPC suggests that more membership resignations stem from PNMs not clearly understanding the obligations and expectations of membership. By incorporating Theta's values into the recruitment process, our chapters can focus on executing recruitment events that accurately portray both the benefits and obligations of membership, as well as focus on genuine conversations with PNMs. This allows PNMs to get a realistic sense of what membership in Kappa Alpha Theta means during the college experience and beyond. In turn, our members are able to better identify the PNMs who exemplify Theta's values and are most qualified to carry on our tradition of being leading women. Values-based recruitment results in members who join our organization and stay in our organization due to genuine, authentic connections.
So how does this actually affect recruitment for our chapters?
• Skits will no longer be included in the recruitment process.
• Chapter members will spend more time discussing the membership obligations, experiences, and true benefits of membership.
• Panhellenic councils and chapter officers will discuss how to effectively and efficiently reduce chapter recruitment budgets in order to make member dues more affordable.
All 26 NPC member organizations are expected to adhere to this policy as member groups of the NPC.
Kappa Alpha Theta's recruitment committee is dedicated to developing resources to assist our chapters in adapting to these changes. The most frequent concerns that we hear regarding this legislation are: Can we still have fun, and how do we show PNMs our personality? Values-based recruiting does not mean that we are robotic in our delivery and are only permitted to discuss our Fraternity's values. It just means that we will eliminate the excess and pare down our recruitment practices to focus on meaningful connections with PNMs. Individual members have the ability to demonstrate what makes their chapter unique by sharing their Theta story.
While many of us alumnae participated as collegians in a recruitment process that was characterized by entertaining the PNMs and impressing them with our decor, we are now at a time in which we need to support our chapters and the NPC legislation. Our chapter officers are working hard to support the policy, and it is our responsibility as alumnae and leading women to support our college members in adapting to today's recruitment process.
Kudos to the Kappa Alpha Theta members at Columbia for making it to the pages of the Sunday (April 10) issue of The New York Times. The title of the article was "When a Feminist Pledges a Sorority" as if that was a new concept. In fact, there is a strong foundation of feminists creating and joining sororities. I would argue that women's empowerment and sororities is nothing new. Throughout the history of sororities* one can find women who have been trailblazers and pioneers in their fields. Of course, for one who does not wish to believe this no amount of proof will be sufficient.
Sisterhood has really never gone out of style and it has been a cornerstone of National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) organizations since the beginning.
I offer ten women whom most anti-sorority people would never believe belonged to a sorority. (*I know all too well that although the organizations are colloquially called sororities, the majority of the 26 National Panhellenic Conference groups are officially women's fraternities or fraternities for women). These ten women were from a "top of my head" list. There are scores of others who belong on this list.
Special thanks to Fran for sharing her blog with us! Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below.
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