Alpha Chi Omega (AXO), a sorority recently invited to join the Stanford Inter-Sorority Council (ISC), will be recruiting new members and establishing a new chapter on campus in the first weeks of spring quarter. AXO was part of Stanford’s sorority scene in the 1980s, but the original chapter has since disbanded. With no current members on campus, AXO will navigate the traditions of Greek life for the first time this spring, from going through ISC Formal Recruitment — also known as rush — to building community values and connections.
After rush last spring, ISC voted to form its Extension Committee when the average pledge class size far exceeded the capacity that sororities could handle. The committee, comprised of one student and one alumni or advisor representative of each of the seven ISC organizations on campus, searched for a new sorority and made the final decision to welcome AXO after a long application process.
“The ISC community would [benefit] from having a new chapter because of large classes, which are untenable for both housed and unhoused sororities,” said Cecilia Lang-Ree ’17, Alpha Phi’s representative on the Extension Committee.
To begin its search, the committee sent a memo to the National Panhellenic Conference, an organization made up of 26 national chapters. Nine organizations applied to be reviewed, and the Extension Committee settled on AXO and Kappa Delta (KD) as the top two candidates after scoring against a confidential rubric.
According to Lang-Ree and ISC President Megan Wilson ’18, ISC was looking for a sorority that was progressive and inclusive. AXO impressed the ISC committee with its openness, eventually winning the vote 6-1 after a round of on-campus presentations.
“The president of AXO said that its membership is open to any person who identifies as a woman, which is not something all national sororities have come out and said,” Lang-Ree explained.
Since AXO does not have current students running its chapter at Stanford, the organization’s national headquarters have made other arrangements to help AXO establish itself on campus. Leadership consultants who are AXO graduates and professionals will help get the chapter off the ground by planning events, starting traditions and establishing a leadership board.
The recruitment process for AXO will also differ from that of other Stanford sororities. Last week, Wilson explained, ISC voted to allow AXO to have a preliminary marketing period for upperclassmen beginning on March 9 through the end of winter quarter this year. This will give AXO the chance to start building its chapter by reaching out to students who might be interested in joining the sorority. AXO was given special permissions to talk to upperclassmen through this time, which is normally a silent period for recruitment. However, the organization still cannot reach out to freshmen until the start of rush.
During formal recruitment, held on the first weekend of spring quarter, AXO will participate in the first of the three nights, where collegians from local universities will talk to potential new members and provide their experiences from a student perspective. Unlike other ISC chapters, which offer bids to students on the Monday following the weekend of rush, AXO will participate in continuous open bidding, which allows the organization to offer bids to students at any point throughout the year.
A major challenge that AXO faces is sustaining enough membership over the next few years while settling in at STanford.
“We, [the Extension Committee], felt they would be really strong in that they have a solid plan for getting their name out there or getting the appropriate marketing and that they have lots of support from their international headquarters,” Lang-Ree said.
Another concern is the time it might take for AXO to adjust to Stanford policies on Greek life. However, the organization is not arriving unprepared.
“I’m not too worried with them having issues with the University since they did meet with a lot of administrators and got a clear idea of what the university expects of them,” Wilson said.
Wilson and Lang-Ree are optimistic that bringing a new sorority to campus will give women leaders the unique opportunity to define a chapter’s identity and build a community from scratch.
This post has been updated to reflect AXO’s previous presence at Stanford.
Contact Vibhav Mariwala at vibhavm ‘at’ stanford.edu.