Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 28, 2022

Theta returns to campus after four year hiatus

By ELI WALLACH | September 12, 2013

Kappa Alpha Theta, known simply as “Theta,” began recruitment for their Zeta Chi charter class this past week, holding information meetings in Levering Hall on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Sent from Theta’s headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind. and spearheading the creation and oversight of the Zeta Chi charter class are Aubrey Boruck from University of Connecticut and Alec Sunderland from Pepperdine University, two of the sorority’s first year Education Leadership Consultants.

In 2009, Hopkins University officials revoked Theta’s charter on account of a series of disciplinary infractions. However, after a high turnout for sorority recruitment last year, the Panhellenic Council announced that it would invite Theta back to become the fifth sorority on the Homewood Campus.

“I think that we have strayed in the past,” Sunderland said. “But when we left Johns Hopkins, we left knowing that we wanted to return. So our return is something that we have been planning and are excited about.”

This fall, Boruck and Sunderland are looking to bring together a group of sophomores, juniors and seniors to make up Theta’s Zeta Chi chapter so that they can be a functioning sorority by the time spring recruitment comes around. So far, the two have been pleased with the high turnout of interested students, as well as with the warm welcome Theta has received from other sororities.

"Boruck and Sunderland have been attending all of the Panhellenic Council meetings and the Council has been integrating them,” Sophomore Nicolette Roque, secretary for the Panhellenic Council, said. “We do everything we can to help them and make them feel comfortable.”

Beyond high recruitment numbers, Boruck and Sunderland emphasized how Theta as an organization fits well into the community at Hopkins.

“I think that [Theta is] a great fit since Theta is such a values based organization,” Sunderland said. “We bring that service to the table, and it’s also a social outlet while maintaining a scholarship aspect. So, in terms of organizations, you really have all factors coming together into one.”

The charter class will be formally announced on Sept. 17, which has been termed “Bid Day.” In preparation for the day, a recruitment kick-off event will be held in the Glass Pavilion on Sept. 15 in the evening.

“We want to be immersed in the Johns Hopkins culture. Johns Hopkins is obviously a very rigorous institution focusing on academics and the success of their students. So we just want to be something that enhances the collegiate experience,” Boruck said. “We are here to provide connections, to be a support system, to provide networking and build off of what Johns Hopkins has already put into place.”

In regards to what qualifies a candidate for Theta’s Zeta Chi charter chapter, both Boruck and Sunderland stressed the need for Theta candidates to be focused on school and to be willing to take on the challenges that starting a new chapter brings.

However, the two made clear that there is not one type of woman who makes an ideal candidate for Theta.

“We want women who come from different backgrounds, who have different experiences, who are involved in different things, because we feel that being around women with other experiences enhances your own experience further on,” Boruck said.

The two promoted the charter class as an exciting opportunity for students to practice leadership and leave a legacy, particularly given the challenges that come with starting a new chapter.

“I think having confidence in who you are as a new chapter is always a challenge for anyone starting up,” Sunderland said. “Making your identity and sticking to it, having faith in the long term, that is something that we are going to stay focused on.”

Since new Theta members will not have “bigs” as they do in other sororities, Boruck and Sunderland are planning on creating a “twin star” program, in which members in preferably different grades can pair up and create the foundations for a so-called “lineage.”

Regarding whether old Theta alumni would affiliate with the new Theta or with the old Theta’s underground offshoot, “IX,” Boruck and Sunderland made clear that the issue would largely depend on the individual alumna.

“Anyone with alumni status is welcome to be a support system and a part of the new chapter,” Sunderland said.

Alumni status, however, was rescinded from some of the old Theta’s members as a result of their actions when their charter was revoked.

Kappa Alpha Theta was founded in 1870 and is recognized as the first Greek Letter fraternity for women. Today, Theta operates over 130 chapters in the United States and Canada. Hopkins’s Zeta Chi chapter represents Theta’s 132nd chapter.

This year, Theta is also creating chapters at other universities including Tufts University, St. Louis University and North Carolina State University. Theta also has over 200 alumnae chapters and over 250,000 initiated members.

Theta’s national philanthropic partner is CASA, an organization dedicated to advocating and assisting foster children. This partnership began in 1989 and Theta continues to raise tens of thousands of dollars annually for the organization.

Members of the student body, such as sophomore Dexter Zimet, are excited for the potential changes that the new Theta chapter might bring to Hopkins Greek Life.

“There are obviously stereotypes for each sorority, so adding another sorority has the potential to be great for girls who don’t feel that the existing sororities represent themselves well,” Zimet said. “Also having more sororities will create more of a balance with the fraternities, which can lead to better mixers.”

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