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Return of Gamma Phi Beta sorority to offer a new opportunity for some Ohio State women

Greek Row, located on 15th Avenue in Columbus, on Sept. 25. Credit: Lantern file photo

Greek Row, located on 15th Avenue in Columbus, on Sept. 25.
Credit: Lantern file photo

Ohio State undergraduate women who registered for formal sorority recruitment had a new chapter to visit this year: Gamma Phi Beta.

Under the direction of Gamma Phi Beta Collegiate Leadership Consultants Jaclyn Yetter and Lauren Nottoli, recolonization of the Beta Xi chapter of Gamma Phi Beta, which was previously at OSU before leaving in 1967, has begun. With the help of 10 members from the sorority’s University of Cincinnati chapter, the first round of recruitment was held in the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house over the weekend.

But instead of continuing with formal recruitment with OSU’s 16 already-established Panhellenic Association sororities, which are set to finish recruitment with bid day Monday, Gamma Phi Beta will pause the process until Feb. 4. At that time, the sorority will host a kick-off celebration for its own exclusive process that will conclude with a bid day Feb. 9, according to the calendar on Gamma Phi Beta at Ohio State’s website.

The Gamma Phi Beta Alumnae Chapter of Columbus is set to assist with the recruitment process, according to Brooke Holtz, a fourth-year in international studies and previous president of the alumnae chapter. Halfway through her second year, Holtz transferred to OSU from John Carroll University, where she had joined the Zeta Omicron chapter of Gamma Phi Beta.

“(The Gamma Phi Beta International Headquarters) gave us a schedule for alumnae that have time and want to volunteer and help out … Each year as (the OSU chapter) gets more established, the (OSU) girls will take over more and more,” Holtz said.

Jamie Schertz, president of OSU women’s fraternity Chi Omega and a fourth-year in marketing, said she’s looking forward to having Gamma Phi Beta as a new PHA partner, as well as having another opportunity for all of the women rushing.

“Each year the number of women who go through the recruitment process seems to increase, which is a wonderful sign that Greek Life at Ohio State is expanding,” Schertz said in an email. “It is encouraging to know that more women will be able to join a sorority this year.”

More than 1,100 women registered for PHA recruitment this year, OSU Sorority and Fraternity Life coordinator Kate Butler said, about the same number as last year, which was a record number at the time. There are more than 2,000 women in PHA chapters, according to the Sorority and Fraternity Life website.

Joining a new sorority offers advantages not afforded by joining the ranks of a more established chapter, said Kelsi Doerrer, a first-year in health sciences who is going through recruitment.

“It would be pretty cool to join a brand new sorority. Hearing people talk about it after the (recruitment) meeting, a lot of people were excited about it … It attracts me because it doesn’t have a set group of girls in it yet, so it can be whatever we make it,” Doerrer said.

Gamma Phi Beta also offers an opportunity for older students interested in joining Greek Life who would usually be overlooked by sororities, said Maria Nagel, a fourth-year in international business, hospitality management, and humanitarian services and liberal arts who has a year of school left.

“Being 21 years old, it didn’t seem right to join a sorority because mostly they want freshmen — I felt discouraged about that,” Nagel said. “When I found out that (Gamma Phi Beta) was accepting all ages and my friend (from the University of Cincinnati chapter) recommended me, it made me think I might want to be a part of it.”

Nagel met with Yetter in November to learn more about the recruitment process.

“They’re waiting until the whole formal recruitment is over so those that don’t want to go through (the formal recruitment process) can go to theirs. Whoever doesn’t get a bid or drops out or whatever can also go to (Gamma Phi Beta),” Nagel said. “They’re starting from scratch and they want to be able to have senior traditions and all the different grades. They want to implement those here by creating a full sorority class.”

Third-year in nutrition and community health Samantha Francesconi said she hopes to become a member of the first class, after registering for and dropping out of recruitment in each of her first two years at OSU.

“I thought being a third-year was too late to get involved in Greek Life, so when I heard they were coming to campus, I got really excited,” Francesconi said.

While the sorority is new to current students, it is not new to OSU. Gamma Phi Beta was once a part of OSU’s Greek system but was forced to disband in 1967 because of a lack of interest after 16 years on campus, Whitney Brady, director of sorority growth for the Gamma Phi Beta International Sorority, told The Lantern last spring.

The sorority was given another chance in April when the PHA voted in favor of bringing it back, starting with Spring Semester 2014 formal recruitment, with housing to be established by fall 2014.

“It’s our standard extension (recolonization) process. There’s a certain way we do things,” Yetter said.

Francesconi said she’s intrigued by the possibility of joining the new chapter.

“It’s a good opportunity to join and be a founding member of a sorority,” Francesconi said. “I feel like I’m settled and ready to take on a challenge.”

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