Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., a historically African American sorority, is expected to charter on Lehigh’s campus in the upcoming months.
The sorority will join the nine Panhellenic and two Multicultural sororities on campus. It will be the first National Pan-Hellenic Council, Incorporated sorority at Lehigh.
The NPHC is currently made up of nine historically African American, international Greek letter sororities and fraternities. These organizations are more commonly known as “the Divine Nine.”
Carter Gilbert, the assistant director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs and the head of the Multicultural Greek Council, said Sigma Gamma Rho will add to Lehigh’s community and provide another outlet for student’s who are looking for a support system.
“My hope for the new sorority similar to my hopes for all fraternal organizations is that they fulfill the goals they presented in their expansion presentation, commit to showcasing their values through their engagement on campus, and add value to both their members’ experiences and the Lehigh community as a whole,” Gilbert said.
Gladys Castellon, ’17, the president of Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc., said the new addition will give women another option if they choose to join the Greek community.
“I had the chance to sit in on their presentation to be considered to come to Lehigh, and I saw a lot of ways in which these women could potentially add to Lehigh’s community in different ways,” Castellon said.
Castellon also emphasized the importance of adding a multicultural sorority to Lehigh’s campus. She hopes the organization will help foster a greater sense of community at Lehigh and work to build relationships with other sororities on campus.
“I think what really stuck out to me in their presentation was the organization’s commitment to community,” she said.
Castellon also said she believes Sigma Gamma Rho will work with other chapters to promote philanthropic events. She hopes the sorority will provide interested students with leadership opportunities that align with the mission statement.
“Now more than ever, organizations who fulfill their missions and develop members who can lead their campuses with integrity are needed on college campuses,” Gilbert said. “Since the beginning of March, 30 fraternities have been suspended or shut down altogether for a variety of issues at colleges across the nation. If you do a quick Google search, you can find a myriad of articles calling for the reform or end of fraternities and sororities altogether. Yet, it is also proven that involvement in Greek life can—and does—contribute to members thriving in their well-being later in life.”
Gilbert also acknowledged the recent controversies surrounding Greek life but said Greek life provides students with positive experiences.
“We can go back and forth all day about the current state of affairs in Greek life from a national level, but the fact is we will always be in need of organizations who can provide a sense of belonging, support, leadership development, care of the community and commitment to academic excellence,” Gilbert said.
Although Sigma Gamma Rho is a historically African American sorority, membership is open to all students.
Gilbert said he is excited for Lehigh to have their first NPHC sorority on campus.
“This is the result of students making it clear that they want and need this, and similar, organizations on Lehigh’s campus,” Gilbert said. “I can’t wait to see how they help more students become good civic leaders and contribute to the Lehigh community at large by giving back through their leadership and engagement.”
Lehigh currently has two NPHC fraternities on campus: Kappa Alpha Psi and Alpha Phi Alpha. Sigma Gamma Rho will be the first NPHC sorority chartering on campus, Gilbert said.
“I think that just giving other Lehigh students a chance to learn about another organization or sorority will be awesome,” Castellon said.
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was established Nov. 12, 1922 at Butler University. The organization is divided into five regions: Central, Northeastern, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western.
According to the sorority’s website, Sigma Gamma Rho’s mission “is to enhance the quality of life within the community. Public service, leadership development and education of youth are the hallmarks of the organization’s programs and activities. Sigma Gamma Rho addresses concerns that impact society educationally, civically, and economically.”
Castellon said she hopes that students will be open and welcoming to the sorority.
“I know that people have been really willing to open up to learning about MSU so this will just be another thing people can learn about,” she said.
Editor’s note: in a previous version of this article, a quote was falsely attributed to Carter Gilbert when Gladys Castellon was the correct speaker. Another quote was falsely attributed to Gladys Castellon when Carter Gilbert was the correct speaker.