Phi Sigma Rho sorority inducts new members

Sorority is a probationary member of IFC

MIT’s colony of the Phi Sigma Rho sorority inducted its new candidates this past weekend. The sorority joined the Interfraternity Council as a probationary member Oct. 11, 2018.

Phi Sigma Rho is a social sorority that was “founded with the intention of offering support for women in engineering and STEM” said founder and former president Madiha Shafquat ’19 in an interview with The Tech.

Phi Sigma Rho founding members wanted their sorority to join the IFC because “the way [they] envisioned [the organization] operating is more along the models of how fraternities at MIT operate,” said Shafquat.   

“IFC already has very robust systems [e.g. for risk management and recruiting] … which is why it would be a lot easier for us to assimilate into the IFC,“ said Shafquat. “We hope in the future we’ll be able to get more recruiting done because we’ll have more of the infrastructure.”

Phi Sigma Rho is “not under [the Panhellenic Association] nationally” and so was free to choose between joining Panhel or the IFC, said Shafquat.

Benefits of joining the IFC rather than the Panhel include “being able to have a smaller sorority size (10–15 per pledge class) as opposed to current sororities” which can be around 30 per pledge class, said Shafquat.

Phi Sigma Rho joining the IFC over Panhel was not a matter of disagreement with Panhel. “They’ve all been great to work with and very supportive of us,” said Shafquat.

Whether or not there was historical precedent for an all-female group, joining the IFC was a “big” point of discussion, said IFC president Sam Ihns ’20 in an interview with The Tech. The IFC eventually “determined there was quite a bit of precedent” and so was “more than happy” to accept Phi Sigma Rho, said Ihns.

Prior to 2001, all five existing sororities at MIT were members of the IFC before they broke off into a separate organization that became Panhel. The IFC does already have female members in co-ed fraternities such as TEP and the Number 6.  

“There are no overarching rules on who we allow at the national level,” said Ihns. “The main concern that we had [is that] we don’t want to detract from Panhellenic recruitment. We don’t want to detract from potential members choosing between recruitment or Phi Sigma Rho.” Members of Phi Sigma Rho, the IFC, and Panhel are currently working together to determine when Phi Sigma Rho will run its recruitment.  

Phi Sigma Rho has been working with Panhel and the IFC in order to establish its status on campus. Phi Sigma Rho began working with the IFC in mid-March to join, said Ihns.

“We have a two year process” to bring people into IFC, said Ihns. All organizations must be a probationary member of the IFC for one year and then an associate member for another year, before becoming a full member of the IFC.  The sorority was voted in as a probationary member in October.

“Both [probationary and associate members] have essentially all the privileges of being an IFC member” except they “can’t vote on [their] own expulsion” and “can’t have members [from their group] on IFC board,” along with a few other restrictions, said Ihns.

Phi Sigma Rho started in the spring of 2017 with three founding members, according to Shafquat. After another semester, its membership grew to around 10, and after another, to around 20. It currently has 17 members.

The sorority currently consists of mostly juniors and seniors, said Shafquat. “There are a lot of people who have demonstrated interest ... but it’s not something they can fit into their time at MIT,” she said.