For most TCU students, the word sorority creates a mental image of over 100 women in a group. However, for the members of some Multicultural Greek sororities, that image is very different from reality.
For the women of Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority, Inc., and Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc., a sorority means having two or three active members.
As active members of the university’s Multicultural Greek Council, both Chi Upsilon Sigma and Lambda Theta Alpha work hard to function normally and be productive members of the Greek community despite having membership bases that could be counted on one hand.
Chi Upsilon Sigma Vice President Sandy Jacquez said that although low membership may present some problems, there are advantages to being a part of Greek life based within smaller organizations.
“You depend on one another more, you spend more time with one another,” the junior strategic communication major said. “You build that trust and that bond that you may not if you were in a room full of women.”
Gaius George, the Multicultural Greek Council adviser, said that there are benefits to joining any group on campus; however, it is all about students finding the correct group that fits their values and interests.
“It is more about finding your fit/niche than the benefits,” he said. “The better question is 'Are you where you belong, and can [you] develop as an individual, in turn developing your organization?'”
There are several factors that contribute to sororities’ low memberships on the campus, Jacquez said.
Having a campus with a small minority population hurts growth because it creates competition between historically Latino-based MGC organizations, she said.
“It doesn’t help that the minority population at TCU is very small,” she said. “We have several fraternities and sororities pulling from a tiny pool to begin with.”
According to the 2012 TCU Fact Book, the Hispanic/Latino population at the university makes up 9.9 percent of all students enrolled, as compared to the 73.3 percent of the student body that classifies themselves as white.
George said he believes if students had the time to explore the different options available to them once they got on campus, they could find the organization that would best fit them.
“If we all take the time out to build a relationship prior to springing ‘Fraternity and Sorority Life’ on people, I feel we would have a healthier, more diverse group of organizations,” he said.
Chi Upsilon Sigma President Felisha Trevino said she believes that smaller membership rates are also a result of a more intimidating pledgeship process that is set up very differently than the traditional “bidding” of Panhellenic sororities.
“The rush process is more rigorous because it places a higher demand on time management, on sisterhood inclusion as well as professionalism,” the senior nursing major said. “We expect for our women to be able to pick up the pace and be able to work in a very efficient manner as a student and a leader on campus.”
Jacquez echoed her sorority sister’s thoughts, saying that the rush process of Chi Upsilon Sigma is significantly more taxing than others that women might experience during formal rush.
“Our pledging process is pretty intense because the activities we have make women search themselves for who they are and challenge them to be the best they can be,” she said. “It can be difficult, it can be scary and it can be intimidating. We encourage them to think outside of the box.”
In addition, Trevino said MGC sororities such as Lambda Theta Alpha and Chi Upsilon Sigma place a large emphasis on academic success, leadership and professionalism. With this idea in mind, many MGC groups prohibit pledgeship during the first or second semesters.
“When you join a university your freshman year, it’s a transitional phase into a post-secondary campus,” Trevino said. “When you come into campus, grades are number one.”
Lambda Theta Alpha President Anabel Galvan said that a lack of publicity makes the sororities and fraternities of MGC less visible to incoming freshman.
“The women going through recruitment are usually unaware of our council and our sororities,” Galvan said. “They do not know who we are or that we even exist because they are just learning about the houses they are visiting and not the entire Greek community.”
Jacquez said that while having low numbers may mean Fraternity and Sorority Life may one day not recognize Chi Upsilon Sigma or Lambda Theta Alpha as a full-fledged student organization, the university administration understands the predicament minority organizations may be in at a private institution like TCU.
“They understand our situation and how we are different,” she said. “I guess TCU has always seen the impact we make on the community, how we add to diversity.”
Lambda Theta Alpha Vice President Karina Nieto said that despite the setbacks of having just a few members, the positives of being in a sorority within the MGC outweigh the negatives.
“With the MGC we are a close-knit community. Everyone knows everyone,” the junior movement science major said. “We’re all willing to help out no matter who it is.”
Trevino said that her sorority’s focus is on professionalism and successfulness and less on social aspects, which helps separate them from other Greek organizations.
“We do definitely want to have a large base of women, but at the same time, we need to be academic and professional leaders on campus,” she said. “We pertain to outside the social realm.”
According to the Spring 2012 TCU Fraternity and Sorority Grade Report, Chi Upsilon Sigma led all Greek organizations in Average Active Member’s GPA at 3.773. That number is higher than any Interfraternity Council or Panhellenic Council member and is .334 points higher than it’s closest Greek organization competitor.
Jacquez said it is a common misconception that all MGC fraternities and sororities only accept students of Latino or minority descent.
“Latin Sorority is in our name, but we’re multicultural,” she said. “We’re very diverse. We have sisters of all backgrounds, and anyone is welcome.”
Jacquez said that while numbers can be important, they are not the defining characteristic of a sorority.
“We have the passion and presence in one woman as an organization or chapter with 10, 15, 20,” she said. “We are that headstrong, that passionate.”
Trevino said that the main thing that separates the MGC organizations from the IFC or PHC organization is the diversified yet unified students that comprise them.
“We are not a homogenous group,” she said. “We are so different, but at the same time because our values are so similar from all of our council’s organizations, it’s wonderful.”
Although membership numbers may be low for these Greek organizations, members said they are confident that they will remain on campus because of the impact they make at the university. They said they believe smaller numbers allow them to know what true sisterhood is.
Galvan said that having a smaller group of people ensures that they get to know one another on a level that may not be seen in the more traditional Greek lifestyle and that by the end of their time at TCU they will have created bonds that will last a lifetime.
“Being a part of a smaller organization ensures a personal bond and relationship with the members of the organization,” she said. “We are sisters that will always be there for each other through the good and the bad.”