News from the archives

1983: MIT’s first sorority rush

After first rush, Alpha Phi included 62 pledges

Editor’s Note: This article originally ran 30 years ago in Issue 54 of Volume 103 of The Tech on Friday, Dec. 2, 1983. “From the Archives” is the first of a recurring segment where we reprint articles from The Tech’s archives that are relevant or interesting to today’s MIT community.

MIT’s first sorority, Alpha Phi, recently completed its first rush period. “We went into it not knowing what to expect, but it turned out really, really well,” said Pamela M. Gannon ’84, president of Alpha Phi.

Gannon said 31 of the 33 bids offered were accepted.

Alpha Phi cannot rush during Residence and Orientation Week until the female population of coed dormitories reaches 30 percent, according to the conditions set by the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs. “This rule was designed so that we could avoid the pressures of rush week and wouldn’t draw too many women away from the dorms,” Gannon said.

Alpha Phi will remain a colony, with all 62 current members remaining pledges, until the sorority’s national initiation in February. Sorority members will participate in pledge training during December. “Pledge training consists of learning about the Alpha Phi international organization, learning about the MIT chapter’s own history, and for the pledges to learn about each other,” Gannon said.

Alpha Phi is currently a member of the InterFraternity Conference with “initial period” status, which means it pays half the regular dues but has no vote in the organization. Alpha Phi chose to delay becoming a full member of the conference until after the national initiation, Gannon said.

Alpha Phi held three main events during its rush, starting with an open house on Sept. 30. The sorority advertised the event with posters and sent every freshman and sophomore woman an invitation.

The members of the sorority next held a party for prospective pledges. “Whereas anyone could come to the open house, only those invited by word of mouth could come” to the second party, Gannon said. Alpha Phi held a formal presentation Oct. 27 to explain the goals and expectations of the sorority.

“Alpha Phi didn’t have its own house, so members couldn’t show us around; otherwise, this rush was pretty much like the rushes of rush week,” said Caroline W. Wang ’86, a new pledge. “I didn’t know that many girls at MIT, and I want to get more active at MIT. I think joining Alpha Phi will help.”

Diane M. Hess ’85, a pledge since last year, thought Alpha Phi’s rush differed from those of rush week. “It wasn’t such a rush. It was spread over a few weeks rather than just happening in one week.”

The sorority expects to hold a party with a dormitory next term, Gannon said. “We are planning a party with a dorm rather than with a fraternity in order to build good relationships with dorms. There are a lot of anti-fraternity and anti-sorority feelings that we want to avoid,” she said.

Club Amherst was formed in the fall of 1982 by 11 undergraduate women interested in starting an alternative living group for women, according to Gannon. They worked closely with the Dean’s Office and chose to become affiliated with Alpha Phi International Fraternity last spring, she said.

“The women that started Club Amherst saw the fraternity system and its positive aspects. They thought that sisterhood, grouping together, and the other benefits should be an option for women also. It is for these reasons that I joined Alpha Phi,” said Felicia A. Duran ’85, a new pledge.

Alpha Phi continues its search for a house with the help of the Dean’s Office. “We hope to find a house as soon as possible,” Gannon said.