Barnard Greek Life Recognition 101

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There’s been lots of talk about Barnard and Greek Life recently. We’re kind of confused, so we figured you would be, too. Basically, SGA is trying to figure out whether SGA/the Barnard administration should formally recognize (and therefore fund) the umbrella organizations that oversee the sororities, as well as the sororities themselves. We checked in with the task force currently figuring out how to advise the SGA on this issue. They cleared up the basics of Columbia/Barnard Greek Life, the current state of Barnard Greek Life, and the many layers of the conflict.

Update, 8:20 PM: Bwog has just checked in with the SGA task force to clarify a few points brought up in the comments.

  • The IGC is the InterGreek Council. It oversees the Panhellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council (acronym alert: it’s also known as MGC) and the Interfraternity Council (IFC).
  • The IFC oversees all the sororities (wow, that was a terrible typo!) fraternities as well as ADP, which is why the Barnard students in ADP are under the umbrella of the IFC. As of 2009, 3% of the total Barnard involvement in Greek Life is involved with ADP since the only IFC organization Barnard students can join is ADP.
  • As of 2009, Barnard students made up 42% of the MGC population, and 49% of the Panhellenic Council population, while Columbia College made up only 38%.
  • There are currently four sorority chapters under the Panhellenic Council on campus: Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Sigma Delta Tau. Each chapter has no less than 55 members.
  • The number of  potential recruits released or withdrawn from Formal Recruitment has increased, leading the focus group to state that “that system is unable to accomodate the number of women wanting to affiliate.” The focus group has also found that the number of women wanting to be involved in Greek Life would “easily support a fifth chapter on campus.” In 2009, the focus group suggested adding a fifth chapter to “equalize the disparity between membership sizes among the councils” but that idea has since been unapproved.
  • The 2009 calendar year saw 249 Barnard students involved with Greek Life, which is 10.4% of Barnard’s total population. As of 2009, Barnard students made up 22% of Greek Life.
  • In recent years, the Barnard administration has made a gift of $1,000 to [email protected], which controls funding for the Greek Life councils. This past  year, Barnard paid slightly more than usual, justified in part by the fact that many Barnard women are now living off-campus in sorority houses. for reasons not disclosed by Barnard.
  • There are two phases of sorority recognition, titled Phases 1 and 2 (!) At Phase 1, the organization is not written into the administrative budget, but can ask for gifts, reserve space, and recruit for their organization on campus. Phase 2 is full recognition. Organizations cannot be approved at Phase 2 at least six months after they are approved from Phase 1, but it is generally understood that Phase 1 approval will lead to Phase 2 approval.
  • The Panhellenic Council is currently recognized by the Barnard administration under Phase 1. SGA has since decided to deal with all of the Greek Life-affiliated councils together, an ‘all or nothing’ situation, but PanHel remains approved at Phase 1.
  • Some sorority members have expressed their concern that it is ineffective to group Greek Life under one umbrella organization since the councils are all distinct.
  • Recently, the MGC has approached the SGA about the possible racial bias inherent in MGC not being recognized at Stage 1. Members of MGC are “extremely frustrated,” according to the SGA focus group, by their comparison to other sororities on campus, since they feel that they come from a history of marginalization and therefore support a distinct set of goals.
  • Since it is recognized under Phase 1, the Panhellenic Council employs a Graduate Assistant advisor and the MGC and ADP do not receive any formal support from Barnard, giving the Panhellenic Council a big advantage.
  • Three separate motions were brought to the SGA to explore IGC  recognition in Spring 2010.
  • The SGA focus group is working on three options on the future of Barnard Greek Life that they will bring to SGA as recommendations. SGA will then make the final decision about recognition of Barnard Greek Life.
  • None of the other Seven Sisters colleges, of which Barnard is a member, have recognized sororities on campus.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. Anonymous

    Two things:

    1) after recruitment last year, a record-setting year, the panhellenic chapters ballooned to at least 95 members each. The new member classes were about 40 people, which was twice as much as the previous year (which was supposed to be an anomaly).

    2) the Panhellenic sororities do not need the funding from Barnard; that is not the issue. We fund ourselves through member dues and nationals.

  2. Anonymous  

    \four sorority chapters on campus: Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Sigma Delta Tau. Currently, each chapter has no more than 55 members each.\

    There are four Panhellenic sororities, and six multicultural sororities. Each of the Panhellenic sororities as well over 55 members - some over 70.

    It may also be pertinent to note that Barnard did in fact have sororities on it's campus, up until 1914. Alpha Omicron Pi, a national Panhellenic sorority, was founded at Barnard in 1897, and Kappa Alpha Theta also started a chapter at Barnard in 1898.

    Columbia went co-ed in 1983, and sororities were re-established at Columbia by 1989. Barnard women have been participating in those sororities since then.

  3. fyi  

    nobody really cares about the Barnard sorority situation, so I'd rather not have these posts hamper my bwog experience

  4. dude  

    Panhellenic governs the sororities, not IFC - for bullet number 2

  5. Anonymous

    This would be more helpful with descriptions of what the councils actually do. The student affairs website helps a bit:

    I still don't get though why we need all these councils. Why not just one mega council?

  6. Anonymous  

    This post is plagued with incorrect figures and numbers

    1)While it mentions the MGC in a previous point, it states there are FOUR sororities--these sororities are the Panhellenic sororities and the MGC sororities should have also been included in that statement

    within the four sororities mentioned there are most definitely 55 + sisters--Greek life has increased tremendously over the past few years and while maybe even 2 years ago this may have been the case, simply looking on each (Panhellenic) sorority chapter's website would show you chapters approach 80 women in the fall and 100+ in the spring given the increased interest in Greek Life, the exact reason why Barnard recognition is so necessary to maintain and allow this increased participation from students.

    2)The IFC oversees fraternities, NOT sororities (Panhell overseas the four Panhellenic sororities while MGC overseas the multi-cultural fraternities and sororities)
    IGC overseas all of the councils (3 in total besides IGC-- the Panhellenic Council, the Interfraternity Council, and the Multicultural Greek Council)

    While these inconsistencies may seem trivial, in the larger picture that students are often getting misleading and at times outright false information regarding greek recognition it is irresponsible of student news/information sources, like Bwog, to not report factual information.

    Bwog-- where exactly did you get your information from? A simple search of each of the councils and greek organizations you mention above prove parts of your information incorrect almost immediately. Perhaps these were typos on your part?

    I would ask that you assume more reporting integrity in the future on ALL issues of importance to students on this campus.

  7. Anonymous  

    The IGC is the governing board that oversees all fraternities and sororities on campus.
    The IFC oversees the non-multicultural fraternities, including ADP.
    The MGC oversees the multicultural fraternities and sororities.

    Also, the correct abbreviation for the Panhellenic Council would be "Panhell", without capitalization. The Pan-Hellenic Council is a completely separate national organization.

    You also failed to mention that [email protected] cut the IFC, MGC, and Panhellenic budgets in proportion to the percentage of Barnard students in their organizations. That means Panhellenic saw an arbitrary 51% reduction from their original [email protected] allocation. This is one of the many reasons why Barnard recognition is a big deal.

  8. This

    blog definitely devotes a disproportionate amount of time and space to Barnard issues nowadays. Disproportionate to the importance.

  9. Bwog...  


    "The IFC oversees all the sororities as well as ADP, which is why the Barnard students in ADP are under the umbrella of the IFC. As of 2009, 3% of the total Barnard involvement in Greek Life is involved with ADP."

    should be "The IFC oversees all the fraternities as well as ADP..."

    IFC covers frats, not sororities. The bullet is correct, but that one typo renders it absurd.

  10. wow  

    "Recently, the MGC has approached the SGA about the possible racial bias inherent in MGC not being recognized at Stage 1."

    And I just lost all respect for MGC.

  11. Eliza  (Bwog Staff)  

    I've just checked in with Diana Rastegayeva of SGA and have clarified all confusing/unclear points in the article, as well as the absurd typo I made in a midterms-haze last night. Please let me know if there are any other concerns.

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