By Tess Koman
Four female students brought Sigma Gamma Rho to Union this past winter term.
Helena-Jasmine Sowah ‘13, Chenele McLean ‘12, Dana-Kae Walsh ‘12 and Jennifer Ofori-Kyerewah ‘13 have been working for the past three years to establish the sorority at Union.
“There is a lot of paperwork to be done. You have to meet with Tim [Dunn] and contact Nationals. The sorority has to be based on something that will help the campus community; that’s why it is a predominantly African American sorority—there are none on this campus, so that was a big push,” explains Vice President and Recording Secretary Walsh about the establishment process.
Director of Greek Life Timothy Dunn agreed: “It’s a hard process, but these girls worked hard and met the challenge.”
While Sigma Gamma Rho is a nationally affiliated sorority (originally founded at Butler University in 1922) that has over 90,000 members, it is not a member of the Panhellenic Council at Union.
It operates under the Multicultural Greek Council, along with Phi Iota Alpha, Lambda Pi Chi, Omega Phi Beta and Alpha Delta Lambda.
Although there are currently four members on campus, the sorority plans to recruit members on a yearly basis, most likely during the winter term.
Financial Secretary and Parliamentarian Sowah explains, “A lot of students come here looking for [this sorority], so bringing it to Union is eye-opening for students who don’t know about it. While this is a big deal because we are one of the only African American sororities on campus, we are open to everyone. We do a lot of community service.”
Because Sigma Gamma Rho’s mission statement is based on education, a lot of their philanthropies center on that principle.
“We work with 10 national programs focused on educating as a whole. We work with women and children, we have a program in Africa, and we have an essay contest for young minority students,” says Historian and Treasurer Ofori-Kyerewah.
Other philanthropies include the March of Dimes and the National Health Association.
There is also an emphasis on “the intellectual, moral, and social development of black women,” Dunn said, but added that “anyone can join. Historically, though, it is an African American sorority.”
While the community service aspect is prominent in Sigma Gamma Rho, the new sisters are excited for other reasons as well. “It’s a big and wonderful opportunity for Dana and I. We only have one whole term to do everything we wanted to do but it doesn’t end here. Once we leave this campus, we still have our letters and can still represent in the best way possible. It’s bittersweet but it’s good because it adds so much to my senior year,” notes President and Community Service Chair McLean.
The girls of Sigma Gamma Rho hope to contribute plenty to the existing Greek life at Union.
“Many people have a negative view of fraternity and sorority life on campus at the moment, but I just want to bring a nice new light to campus. I want to show there’s unity between fraternities and sororities.
At the end of the day, you want to reach out to the community and get out there,” says Sowah.