Representatives of an incoming sorority would lay the foundation for an organization steeped in university culture.
On Wednesday Alpha Omicron Pi, a Panhellenic sorority, started a two-day series of meetings, tours and discussions designed to help its sorority mesh with other student-based organizations, Molly Fenton, assistant director of extension for the sorority, said.
“We will meet with staff, faculty, students, non-Greek and Greek,” Fenton said, “to find out what they are looking to improve in the Greek community.”
Alpha Omicron Pi set its sights on philanthropic and social involvement within the Greek system, Fenton said. But she said it would not begin recruitment until the fall semester.
In September, a committee of Panhellenic students and advisers selected Alpha Omicron Pi as one of two organizations to join the university’s expanding Greek community.
The organization’s primary objective in September was to convince members of the Panhellenic Council that Alpha Omicron Pi would be a valuable addition to the university, Leah Carnahan, coordinator for Fraternity and Sorority Life, said.
This time, the group would try to understand the university culture through focus groups, moderator-led discussions with groups of about six to 12 participants, Carnahan said.
Alpha Omicron Pi planned meetings with groups from Colby Hall, the National Panhellenic Council and representatives from fraternities and sororities, Fenton said.
“We only have two days on campus,” Fenton said. “So those were our big areas we start meeting with this time.”
Focus groups are designed to give marketers an in-depth look at their target market, in this case, potential sorority members and leaders, said Catherine Coleman, assistant professor in strategic communication.
Focus groups give moderators a chance to pick up on the language used by a target market, Coleman, who teaches advertising, said. Marketers reach out to potential consumers with advertising that sounds familiar to their audience.
Alpha Omicron Pi, a sorority with chapters in 48 states, has more than 100 years of experience understanding particular college cultures, Courtney Dillard, director of communications at the national Alpha Omicron Pi office, said.
Membership reflects the spirit of each college campus and varies markedly from one another, Dillard said.
All sororities operate on the basis of exclusiveness, Fenton said.
“But our exclusiveness comes from a shared value system,” she said.
Alpha Omicron Pi was founded on friendship in 1897, Dillard said. And, as part of that friendship, the sorority does not recruit based on image.
Fenton said, “Part of becoming part of the Greek community is picking up women from all different classes, majors and personality types.”