The local colony ATP (Alpha Theta Pi) is no more. Instead, Knox now has its fourth full-fledged sorority: Alpha Sigma Alpha.
“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve worked really, really hard and we deserve it,” said sophomore Kettie Norton, the organization’s treasurer.
The beginnings of Alpha Sigma Alpha took place nearly three and a half years ago in the spring of 2007, when an initial group of five members came together and wrote an alpha document, formally expressing their goals to the administration. After spending a year as a colony and working to prove their dedication to the principles they were founded on, the group acquired the votes necessary to nationalize, seeking and receiving approval from organizations such as Student Senate, Student Life Committee, the Panhellenic Council and the faculty. This allowed national organizations interested in chartering the group to begin visiting campus. ATP searched for one that matched their values and found that in Alpha Sigma Alpha.
“ATP [had] kind of three core mottos: scholarship, leadership and service,” said senior Paige Barnum. Barnum, who joined in the spring of her freshman year, is one of the original members of ATP and has served as the group’s philanthropy chair, vice president and president. She appreciated how closely Alpha Sigma Alpha’s priorities aligned with those of ATP.
The sorority’s tenants to aspire, seek and attain, “[give] you this framework that actually applies to the three things,” said Barnum. “Aspire, seek and attain leadership. Aspire, seek and attain to be scholastically competitive. Aspire, seek and attain to better your community.”
In the process of nationalizing, members appreciated how they were allowed to retain the unique identity of their 23-member organization.
“They really looked into us as a chapter and haven’t wanted to change us,” said senior Gloria Feliciano.
“Alpha Sigma Alpha let us keep a lot of our old traditions, which is one of the reasons we wanted to join up with them,” said the group’s current president, junior Katie Johnston.
The process of becoming a sorority was not without challenges. The organization often struggled with anti-Greek sentiment that was not necessarily supportive of another Greek organization being established on campus.
“The biggest challenge was…expressing to those who are yet un-persuaded that Greek life isn’t a bad thing, that adding another chapter isn’t making the Greek system this pervasive force on campus,” said Barnum.
Members have also dealt with changes within their organization as the group underwent the transition from colony to sorority.
“There are a lot more rules and we don’t get to make them anymore,” said senior Tasha Coryell. “There’s a lot more structure; there’s a lot of positions to take up. A lot of people have had a chance to be involved.”
The installation process, which took up most of spring term, presented a challenge that members embraced with enthusiasm.
“[Alpha Sigma Alpha] sent in some consultants…to talk to us about the process and things we needed to do to get to installing, things like doing membership exams, having a good solid number of members,” Johnston said.
“We’re a lot closer now,” Coryell said, who noted that the extra time that was necessary to invest in the installation process gave members a chance to get know each other. “Before, I didn’t think of it as, ‘these are my sisters.’ I thought, ‘these are my friends who happen to be in an organization with me.’”
Now that the installation process is complete and ATP is officially Alpha Sigma Alpha, its members are looking ahead to the future, aiming to continue establishing their presence on campus and further grow their membership. They also value giving Knox’s women a fourth choice of sorority.
“Since we’re a 60 percent female campus and there are three organizations for women to choose from and seven for men…we want to offer women more options,” said Johnston. “Such a huge part of being in a sorority is the women and the friendships and it’s really important to find a place where you can feel like you’ll fit in with the people.”
Members were enthused about ATP and Alpha Sigma Alpha not only for what it offered campus but for the opportunities it afforded each individual.
“It brought me out of my shell,” Barnum said. “I like having the power to actually accomplish really good things.”
“I think it’s made me more involved in campus life…being responsible for something that I really care about on campus,” said Johnston.
“I enjoy the sisterhood,” said sophomore Claudia Brooke. “I didn’t make the wrong decision.”