Kelsey Platt ’11 is president of the Panhellenic Council, an umbrella organization for three Princeton sororities. She was interviewed in early May by Brian No ’10.
One of the University’s main criticisms of fraternities and sororities at Princeton is that they don’t contribute positively to the community. How would you respond to that claim? And what, in your opinion, do sororities and fraternities add to the campus?
The collaborative efforts of the sororities focus on philanthropy and service. In order to be considered active chapters, the national organizations of each chapter require their members to give back to the community through service projects for a certain number of hours. This spring the Panhellenic Council organized a series of fundraisers to raise awareness of the disaster in Haiti and to contribute to the UNICEF Haiti Relief Fund. One of the events was a concert featuring the Grammy-nominated Haitian band Boukman Eksperyans. More than $3,000 was raised as a result of these efforts.
The sororities offer mentoring programs to the underclassmen that give members an academic support system. The benefits of these programs are evidenced by the Panhellenic G.P.A., which is currently 3.47.
The University is also against the early fall rush. Although Greek-letter organizations rejected in 2004 a proposal to move rush to the spring semester, you said in a recent Daily Princetonian article that the sororities would be happy to meet with the administration to discuss the proposal. Why has the Panhellenic Council has shifted its stance toward the idea of a later rush date?
The Panhellenic Council has been against the idea for some years, but in recent meetings, the idea of open communication with the administration has received positive feedback. If a discussion about moving rush will help this occur, then we are happy to oblige.
In the same Prince article, you said that the only other option would be moving rush to November. Why is this the only other option? What would be the problem with pushing it back to the spring semester?
The only other possible time to schedule recruitment would be the week after fall break, which is usually the first week in November. However, even this option has some drawbacks. It is essential to hold recruitment at a time that would have the least conflicts for both current and potential new members. Some classes have midterms or papers during this week, which would prohibit a number of potential new members from rushing. It would not be possible to schedule recruitment in the spring because of conflicts with bicker. Seniors also spend the majority of time working on their theses in the spring semester and would be less likely to participate in scheduled rush events.
Has the Panhellenic Council made any efforts to meet with the administration to discuss a later rush?
It has been difficult to schedule a Panhellenic Council meeting to discuss the implications of these articles due to conflicts with paper deadlines and exams. As Panhellenic president, I cannot reach out to the administration until the Panhellenic Council has met formally and unanimously agreed on our plan of action.
In light of the recent Prince series of articles about sororities and fraternities and the just-released report from the Eating Club Task Force, there’s been talk of having the University formally recognize fraternities and sororities, which you said you supported. However, there’s also been some talk about banning Greek life outright. What do you think about this latter idea? What would you say to the administration if it is considering a ban?
In the last Panhellenic Council meeting a month ago, the sororities agreed that it would be beneficial to approach the University with the idea of recognizing the Panhellenic Council instead of the individual sororities. This would allow the University more insight into the benefits of sororities without the possible liabilities.
Sororities provide their members with a network of young women throughout their college experience and for the rest of their lives. Every chapter’s members are unique, but they all share the motivation to succeed academically, give back to the community, and support each other in times of need. When a member is in need – whether it’s anxiety over a problem set, a broken leg, a breakup, family problems, or a serious illness – she has more than 100 women to comfort and help her at any point in the day. This support system has significantly improved my Princeton experience. Banning sororities would take away the support system that 400 young women rely on every day.