Sorority to start member crossing

Eight women will begin a journey Sunday that will change the face of the Baker University greek system.

The eight founding members of Baker’s chapter of Zeta Phi Beta, a national historically black sorority, will begin the intake process on Sunday, which will then last ten days, Director of Greek Life Bryan VanOsdale said.

“I think this is going to be a very positive thing, not just for the people who are joining. I think this will be a positive experience for Baker,” junior Michelle Burton said.

The sorority is one of nine national greek organizations comprising the National Pan-Hellenic Council. The “divine nine” includes five historically black fraternities and four historically black sororities.

As a member of the NPHC, Zeta Phi Beta recruits and initiates members differently than other social greek organizations, including the other eight found on Baker’s campus.

To become a member of the sorority, students must have already completed one full-time semester of college with a GPA of at least 2.5. Subsequently, the recruitment process for Zeta Phi Beta will not coincide with the other Baker sororities.

To be accepted into the sorority, students must also go through an application process with an interview, VanOsdale said. He said the difference stems from an emphasis on service and academics rather than the social aspects that many greek organizations focus on.

The intake process will end with a “passing over” in which the new members will be introduced to campus as members of the sorority. After the passing has ended, Baker’s chapter will be officially chartered, and the members will elect an executive board to begin operations, Burton said.

So far, the new members have been receiving guidance from member of the Zeta Phi Beta chapter at the University of Kansas.

Junior Kelly Vaughan, one of the charter members, said the group has appreciated the chance to get to know members at another institution.

“I’m excited about it. We’ve gotten a chance to get some ideas,” she said. “I’m really excited to just get it started and have that kind of activity with KU’s chapter.”

Burton said the members from KU have aided in the transition to a new chapter and provided information on how to develop the sorority.

“We haven’t really discussed that stuff since we don’t have an executive board,” Burton said. “They are giving us guidance, and they have helped us quite a bit. They’ve taken us under their wings and talked to us about some of the things they’ve done.”

VanOsdale said those who have questioned the need for the new sorority are not considering the benefits it will bring to alienated students.

“There have been people who have asked whether we need a historically black sorority and fraternity on campus, and there is a definite need. There is a deep sense of culture with this organization,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to take away from the other sororities. If anything, I think it will enhance the community.”

Vaughan said the sorority will provide another option for students who don’t feel as though they fit in at the other campus sororities.

“Some of the girls don’t get what they want from the other sororities, so this may be able to fill that void,” she said. “This will be an alternative for minority students, but it’s not just open to minority students.”

Burton said the sorority will provide a multicultural opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to making it an equal-opportunity thing,” she said. “Just like any other sorority on campus, you’re not recruiting people because of the color of their skin. You’re recruiting people because they want to be in that sorority.”

Members of Zeta Phi Beta will begin the intake process in the Mungano Room in Harter Union and work on facilitating the sorority’s functions as it progresses, Burton said.