How to Guide Your Campus Through the Final Steps of Adding a New Sorority

Previously, I offered tips on how to thrive through the first half of the NPC extension process.

Now I’ll pick things up from where I left off: the extension vote. I’ll cover forming an extension committee, crafting the extension application, weighing the benefits of exploratory visits, making the extension bulletin work for you, opening extension presentations, and sealing the deal.

Note that this advice will be most applicable to campuses with at least two NPC sororities and an already established College Panhellenic Council (CPC). When in doubt, refer to the NPC Manual of Information.

Committee Overload

If you’re reading this post, then hopefully you’ve had a successful — and fingers crossed, a unanimous — vote in favor of extension. Be sure to take a moment to celebrate! Then quickly ready yourself for an emotional rollercoaster. Until now, much of this process was within your control. However, the next steps require you to leave some things to fate.

After a vote in favor of opening your campus for an extension, you need to scribe the vote in the CPC meeting minutes and contact your NPC Area Advisor. Make sure to denote how each of your campus sororities voted. 

Next, it’s time to establish the CPC extension committee. Similar to the CPC exploratory extension committee, the extension committee should consist of at least one delegate from each current chapter, CPC leadership, and the FSA, along with one or two other staff members (preferably within your division and with ties to fraternity and sorority life). Include one or two unaffiliated student leaders, too, as this decision will impact your entire campus community. 

Pro-tip: Consider inviting your interfraternity council president, student government president, a representative of the athletic student body, and representatives of groups that serve individuals with underrepresented identities. Not only will this help create campus buy-in among all groups (and looks great to potential NPC groups), but it will also demonstrate a commitment to community and inclusion.

Application Central

The main objectives of your extension committee are two-fold. First, you’re aiming to create the extension application and, second, you have your sights set on making a final recommendation for which NPC group to invite to campus. 

For now, let’s focus on the first. The extension application is your opportunity to strut your campus’s and community’s collective stuff so be thoughtful, strategic, and intentional. There is only so much information that you can fit into your extension application, but it is vital to tell a  narrative about your campus that supports the extension.

Include highlights from the data compiled by the exploratory extension committee — such as statistics on recruitment registration, quota, bid-matching, and total — in the application. Then address additional information potential NPC groups will want to know. This may include FSL community statistics, the level of support among institutional leadership for Greek life, and available campus resources. Mention points of pride of your institution, such as its geographic location, community values, and recent external accolades. 

Pro-tip: Work with your dean of students office or residential life office to secure free on-campus housing and meal plans for one or two leadership consultants for at least the first year of the new chapter’s founding. This will make your campus extra attractive to potential NPC groups.

Work with your extension committee to determine what the community is looking for in a new group. Perhaps your campus is most concerned with specific values, such as competing philanthropic interests. Or concerningly, they might be most concerned with the new group’s color scheme, which would warrant a values-based discussion with your students. 

Either way, here is a helpful list of potential items to include in your application:

  • The history of the organization, including traditional events and initiatives
  • Administrative and volunteer support structure, including advisory support in the area — with statistics regarding the number of alumni within a 30-mile radius and 60-mile radius
  • Criteria for membership (including GPA requirements for members and leaders)
  • General organizational statistics (the number of national and international chapters, average chapter size, total alumni network, and other extensions they’re participating in)
  • Copies of the inter/national organization’s risk management policy, including hazing, alcohol and substance abuse, and health education
  • Policies or statements relating to the relationship with the host institution
  • Policies on academic emphasis and scholarship programs
  • Copies of programming relating to the new member process, member education, and leadership development
  • Information regarding community service programs, including the organization’s philanthropy
  • Financial obligations of chapter members, including new member dues and fees, and estimation of chapter dues
  • A description of the assistance provided by the inter/national organization to a new chapter, including financial support, alumni support, and a list of collegiate and alumni chapters in the region
  • Establishment requirements and the proposed timeline of recruitment, establishment, chartering, and new chapter goals and expectations

Pro-tip: Include your timeline in the application in order to help NPC groups better understand your process and better gauge their resources for a successful extension. And don’t forget to set a deadline for submission.

This is also your only opportunity to expedite the extension timeline. Exploratory visits are an optional component and should be considered with your extension committee. If you choose not to allow exploratory visits, then you can shave about two weeks off of your overall timeline. 

However, I recommend permitting exploratory visits since it’ll provide you with a better idea of which groups are interested, helping relieve some future anxiety while awaiting application submissions.

Keep your exploratory visits short and sweet, half-a-day at most. Each visit should involve no more than a few meetings (with key fraternity and sorority staff and the dean of students) and a campus tour. 

As outlined in the NPC Manual of Information, only campus administrators may partake in exploratory visits. No students, including committee members, are permitted to attend. Further, it should not be shared with any student which groups did or did not take advantage of exploratory visits. 

Pro-tip: Be strategic in scheduling your exploratory visits. Winter, spring, and summer breaks are ideal since most students will be away from campus, allowing utmost discretion. And an added bonus is that your dean of students’ calendar is more likely to be free then.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

Your CPC extension committee has two options for alerting the NPC groups that your campus is open for an extension. The first option, the Extension Bulletin, is an open invitation that gets distributed by the NPC Extension Committee Chair. The bulletin is published at various times throughout the year to all 26 NPC member organizations.

Extension Bulletin pros

  • Reaches all 26 NPC member organizations at the same time, hassle-free.
  • Raises awareness for your campus, which may also be helpful for future extensions.
  • There’s no need to send awkward solicitation emails.

Extension Bulletin cons

  • The bulletin is published only occasionally so, depending on the date, it may not work for your timeline.
  • If no NPC member organizations apply by your deadline, you are up a creek without a paddle and will have to wait until the next publishing date.
  • The bulletin will alert all 26 NPC member organizations that your campus is open for extension, including any groups with negative histories on your campus or ones that were previously removed for conduct issues.

The alternative to using the bulletin is to contact individual NPC member organizations directly. You will need to alert the NPC Extension Committee Chair to which groups you are contacting. 

Pro-tip: If selecting direct outreach, start small; a batch of the top 3-5 groups on your wishlist is best.

Direct outreach pros

  • If there’s a specific group that you want to come to campus, then you can go directly to them rather than hoping they come to you.
  • You shouldn’t get left on-read (NPC member organizations should answer you with either glee or a gentle “no thank you”)
  • If you are rejected by your first batch of groups, you can move on to the next batch after alerting the NPC Extension Committee Chair.

Direct outreach cons

  • You have to send awkward solicitation emails.
  • You may face a lot of rejection.
  • Each round of direct outreach delays your timeline further, especially if you are open to exploratory visits.

The route you choose is up to you and your CPC. But either way, you will need to provide the application described earlier. Be sure you are clear about whether or not your campus is open for exploratory visits.

And, if you are anything like me, you will be over the moon when you receive your first application. It’ll mean that you are officially in the home-stretch! Take a deep breath and get ready to get back to the action because up next are extension presentations. 

Strut Your Stuff

The finish line is on the horizon; exploratory visits are behind you, and your CPC has received a few extension applications. So what’s next? It’s time to reconvene your CPC extension committee and begin reviewing applications.

Pro-tip: Build a rubric ahead of time so that you standardize feedback. I recommend removing the names of each group during the application review to eliminate any implicit bias.

Make sure your discussions are values-driven. The goal here is to invite the organizations that best align with your community to give presentations. Depending on the number of applications received, I recommend inviting no more than three groups. Otherwise, all of the groups will start to blend together in your mind. 

Plan for full-day visits this go-around. Each group will want to meet with many people, including your CPC, the CPC extension committee, FSL support staff, the dean of students office, and other non-Panhellenic campus fraternal groups. 

It also won’t hurt to work another campus tour into the schedule, but this time, be more strategic; show off where groups typically hold chapter meetings, recruitment events, and social activities. And be a gracious host. Although you are not allowed to exchange gifts of any kind, providing your visitors with a lunch voucher is permitted, and I bet they’ll appreciate having some time to collect themselves before going on stage. 

Pro-tip: Save the presentation until the end of the day or during a common hour (if your campus has one) to maximize campus participation. At the very least, it should be after all of the visitors’ meetings so that they’ll have time to adjust their presentation if necessary.

Similar to the rubric used by the CPC extension committee to evaluate applications, you should prepare an evaluation form for each attendee to complete after the presentation. Although most attendees will likely be sorority members, the presentation should be open to the entire campus community. Don’t forget to advertise each presentation in your weekly emails, on your student engagement platform, and across social media. 

The evaluation form should highlight themes from the presentations — such as support from headquarters and surrounding chapters/alumni, membership development program strength, and chapter establishment program strength. Evaluators should also indicate each group’s fit for the campus, and an overall assessment of either “recommend”, “recommend with reservations”, or “do not recommend”. All evaluation forms should be tallied and saved for future discussions.

Pro-tip: If you’re an employee of an NPC member organization, demonstrating the strength of your alumni community and your commitment to Panhellenic are huge advantages. In my experience, groups that employ representatives from various NPC member organizations do very well with campus communities; it demonstrates your Panhellenic values.

The Final Vote

Now there is only one box left to check: the final extension vote!

Alongside your CPC extension committee, compile the data from all evaluation forms and identify common themes among the qualitative respondent feedback. Do not get too caught up with the total count of “recommend”, “recommend with reservations”, or “do not recommend” evaluations. Instead, consider the reservations described. But, if most forms come back with “do not recommend,” that might be a red flag.

After some discussion, allow the CPC extension committee to form its final recommendation. Ideally, they will have a clear front-runner, but if all three were deemed as “poor fits” for the campus, simply circle back to step three and go from there. 

For now, let’s say that the committee recommends group C. Hooray! At your next CPC meeting, the extension committee will present its recommendation and motion for a vote while you chew your last fingernail straight off. 

If the vote fails, don’t give up just yet! The good news is that your campus has already voted to open for an extension. That does not go away. You would not have to start from scratch; the CPC extension committee will reconvene and decide the next steps. That may look like revisiting step three or waiting to pick up the conversation again in a future semester. Notify your NPC area advisor and extension committee chair either way.

But again, let’s not put that bad energy into the universe! Although you’ll only need a simple majority,  a vote that passes unanimously is ideal. It helps the new group establish itself in the best way possible.

Once the final extension vote passes, immediately notify your NPC area advisor and extension committee chair. 

Next, work on drafting your official invitation to send to the chosen group. This should be an official document on institutional letterhead and include their chapter establishment timeframe. (Make sure to hang a copy on your refrigerator!)

You will also need to notify the other groups that presented that, unfortunately, they were not selected. Keep these notices cordial and brief, creating an open door for the future. 

Pro-tip: Make sure you send notices to the other groups after you receive an acceptance from the invited group!

After that, there is not much left to say but, Congratulations!

gif of Taylor Swift clapping and cheering from an audience

Hopefully, you’ve thrived through extension, and if so, cheers to many more! Now the real fun can begin: establishing the new chapter.

What questions do you still have about the Panhellenic extension process? Connect with us on Twitter @HelloPresence and @ver_nah_chee. And don’t forget to check out the first post in this series.

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Joseph Vernace

About the author: Joe Vernace is the Associate Director of the Health Sciences Office of Student Services at Stony Brook University and the former Director of Greek Life & Student Involvement at Long Island University. Currently working towards an Ed.D. in Educational & Policy Leadership at Hofstra University, he's an avid supporter of FSL life and is passionate about professional development for SA pros. In his spare time, he's the Vice President of Marketing & Communications for LICSPA - an organization for higher ed professionals in Long Island and NYC. Learn how we can help get your students involved.

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