A sorority is a value-based organization of women who share a bond of ritual, friendship, service and sisterhood. Members of a sorority make a commitment to uphold the values of the organization itself. Through their common experiences, centered on a pursuit of higher education, they build bonds that last a lifetime.
For much of Willamette's history, fraternities and sororities have been an important component of student life. Social clubs and societies began developing as early as the 1850's. Following World War II, President G. Herbert Smith invited national fraternities and sororities to affiliate with the local Greek organizations at Willamette. Pi Beta Phi and Alpha Chi Omega were installed at Willamette in 1944, and Delta Gamma was installed in 1945. Alpha Phi was installed in 2015.
While rooted deep in history, the sorority membership remains a valuable experience. Today, 25-30% of Willamette women choose to join a sorority during their undergraduate years. Hundreds of Willamette alumni are grateful for the opportunities afforded them by their Greek membership, while current members learn timeless skills of leadership, scholarship and social interaction.
Sisterhood, the strong friendship and respect that exists between members, is the foundation of the sorority experience. By depending upon each other in many aspects of life, members develop a deep and unique bond with one another. Every member combines the concept of individualism within the framework of mutual cooperation. Sororities at Willamette University consist of members with diverse backgrounds, making the experience that much more valuable. By interacting with people from various cultural, religious and racial backgrounds, sorority women are well prepared to face the challenges of life after college.
Sororities provide their members with many social benefits, helping women meet new people and develop strong friendships both inside and outside of individual chapters. While chapters often have formal and social functions each semester, sorority women also learn valuable social skills, preparing them for life after graduation. 71% of those listed in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities are affiliated with a Greek Organization. While there can be a preconception that sororities are purely social outlets that disregard responsibility, at Willamette this is not the case. Each organization has nationally implemented risk management policies and insurance, as well as the expectation that their events comply with University policies.
Willamette University is a premiere liberal arts college, and its Greek community reflects that reputation. In each Willamette sorority, academic achievement is a primary objective in an effort to improve scholarship. Sorority women encourage each other to excel both inside, and outside of the classroom.
The Greek community offers numerous opportunities to gain valuable leadership experience. Each chapter governs itself by its own elected officers. Every member contributes a vital role in the general operation and advancement of her sorority. Offices range from planning community service events, improving scholarship and coordinating social events to presiding over the entire chapter. The Panhellenic Council serves as the governing body of the sorority community at Willamette. Its executive board is elected from the membership of the University's sororities and each chapter has two delegates that attend PHC general meetings. In addition, sorority members are involved in many of Willamette's campus organizations, including Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) and Willamette Events Board (WEB). Sorority women also serve as leaders in a variety of staff roles at the University, such as Community Mentors, Opening Days Leaders, intramural supervisors, and in Community Service Learning.
One important foundation of the sorority experience is serving the community. Sororities contribute to the community in many ways, two of which are philanthropies and community service. Community service is visible all across Salem as sororities participate in various community outreach programs. Sororities also plan philanthropies where they raise money for specific charities and organizations, such as the Center for Hope and Safety, Grant Elementary School, and the North West Association for Blind Athletes. Willamette's sororities truly embody and support Willamette's motto, "Not unto ourselves alone are we born."