May 20, 2010

WOI gets closer to sorority status

Multicultural sorority colony Women of Influence (WOI) has begun to take steps towards affiliating with a national organization. On Tuesday, the Student Life Committee (SLC) approved them to go before the faculty in the fall.

“The biggest benefit [of nationalizing] will be positive recognition,” said WOI president Sam McDavid, ’10. “We’ll be more respected and we’ll be able to do more.”

Tuesday was the second time WOI had gone before SLC requesting approval to continue the nationalization process. Last year, SLC recommended that WOI work on improving its cumulative GPA, the number of younger members, and the connection between its events and its mission statement of promoting multiculturalism.

“We were very disappointed and heartbroken,” McDavid said. “But we worked really hard this past year.”

WOI raised its GPA requirement from a 2.2 to a 2.5, and they strove to attain a cumulative GPA of 2.8. WOI members created study circles where two or three members got together to study and support each other academically and helped WOI achieved a cumulative GPA of a 2.96.

“Three girls couldn’t go on [in the pledge process] because of their GPAs, and we had to be really strict with that,” McDavid said.

WOI had a very successful informal recruitment in the winter, adding six new members to their roster. Even with this addition, over half of the women in WOI will graduate this year, leaving them short on members for the fall.

SLC remained concerned about membership at their Tuesday meeting and only approved WOI on the condition that they have 15 members before they go before the faculty in October when their three-year colonization period is up.

Like Gentlemen of Quality, Knox’s multicultural men’s organization, WOI plans to go through the National Multicultural Greek Council instead of the National Panhellenic Conference, which Knox’s current four sororities belong to.

“We’ll be connected to women across the nation with the same ideas and values as us,” McDavid said. “We’ll have a giant sisterhood to count on instead of just our local sisterhood.”

Despite the provision set by SLC, McDavid is confident that, even with the loss of leadership next year, the younger members of WOI are ready to step up.

“Our new executive board is really exciting. They’re very determined and very passionate,” she said. “Tomi [Olotu] is really ready to take over and get things done.”

Olotu, a junior who will be the president of WOI next year, shares McDavid’s enthusiasm about WOI’s prospects. “Word of mouth has really helped us,” she said.

WOI has also increased their exposure on campus through a workshop on body image they hosted earlier this term, which drew a crowd of people from all areas of campus. Workshop participants discussed different races’ ideas of beauty and how the media portrays beauty.

By focusing on women of various races, the body image workshop helped reinforce WOI’s mission to be a truly multicultural organization.

“The women who started [WOI] were mostly black, and they really did not feel like they fit in with the other sororities,” McDavid said. “They wanted something with a little more color. However, WOI was never meant to be exclusively black. We’re a lot more diverse now.”

Freshman Rana Tahir, who is Pakistani, said that WOI’s multicultural focus sets it apart from other sororities on campus.

“[WOI] was a breath of fresh air,” she said. “I wasn’t different because I wasn’t white. I was different because of who I was.”

Anna Meier

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