Phi Sigma Sigma sorority makes a comeback

By Ashley Poynter

Phi Sigma Sigma sorority has existed on campus since 1923, but since fall 2004, they have only been a colony. In other words, the sorority’s charter has been “on pause,” said Phi Sigma Sigma Vice President Iwona Tabernacki, sophomore in LAS. This changed Saturday when Phi Sigma Sigma officially reinstated the sorority’s Theta Chapter, she said.

The chapter closed last fall because of a lack of membership and financial problems, former members of the sorority said.

Veronica Tylka, president of Phi Sigma Sigma and junior in LAS, transferred to the University this year from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Tylka said she joined Phi Sigma Sigma during her freshman year at UIC, but she was not sure what was going on with the sorority in Champaign. So she contacted alumni of the University’s chapter who still attend school here and found out that they were interested in starting the chapter up again, she said.

Tabernacki said that the interest in becoming an official chapter was sparked by former members Lara Minetz and Lindsey Brown. With help from other alumni, Tabernacki said, Minetz and Brown were able to gather 10 girls as recruits through informational sessions at the Union as well as advertising around campus during the last school year.

Formal recruitment was held during the Fall 2004 semester, when more girls joined as new members. Tabernacki said that the national headquarters of Phi Sigma Sigma initially set a goal for the colony to recruit 50 girls by the end of fall, but that goal was not reached.

“That didn’t work out, but they ended up installing us anyways because they saw how much hard work we put into this and how much dedication we had,” Tabernacki said.

Tylka said informal recruitment has continued since then with the help of personnel from the national headquarters in Maryland. She said it was not easy because it is a commitment that lasts the entire semester and many girls don’t have time. However, much interest has been shown and Tylka said everything is coming together well.

“Every girl that we’ve talked to has been like ‘Oh my God, this is such a great idea!'” Tylka said.

She said that the hardest part of starting the chapter again has been the advertising. The sorority has used everything from fliers to ads on, to get the word out. Tabernacki also said that it has been hard to convince people that the sorority will be around for a while.

Terri Walczak, sophomore in ACES, went through informal recruitment with Phi Sigma Sigma for about four months and then dropped out. She said she heard about the sorority through friends and fliers and also went to some informal recruitment events, such as bonfires and football games. Walczak said she enjoyed it, but the time commitment was too much.

“Most sororities already have an executive board already appointed,” Walczak said. “We had to pick from scratch. Not everyone was sure what needed to be done because we had no one to look to.”

After gaining and losing members along the way, the process of restarting the sorority culminated with the sorority’s charter being reinstated. Tabernacki said that the girls were initiated Friday night and the chapter was reinstalled Saturday morning around 10 a.m., followed by a banquet at the sorority house, 902 S. Second St.

Tabernacki said members from the national headquarters and parents attended the banquet, which provided an opportunity for the girls to explain to their families what Phi Sigma Sigma is all about. Tylka said awards were also given out to the executive board as recognition for what they’ve done along the way.

“They just came out shining,” Tylka said.