“Omen Trium Perfectum.” As the saying goes, all good things come in threes, which is just the case with the performance of William & Mary’s Panhellenic Council.
The organization, which is the coordinating body for the university’s Panhellenic sororities, recently received the National Panhellenic Conference’s highest honor, the Excellence Award, for the third year in a row.
“I think this award is a culmination of our hard work over the last couple of years. It really shows that the work we’re doing is not only moving our [Greek] community forward, but the entire W&M community,” said Kendall Carter ’17, president of the W&M Panhellenic Council.
The National Panhellenic Conference, one of the largest advocacy organizations for women and sorority advancement, annually recognizes college Panhellenic associations for their dedication and achievement in on-campus work to advance the sorority experience. As cooperatives comprised of all National Panhellenic Conference member sororities on a campus, associations are scored according to seven criteria: recruitment, Panhellenic structure, communication with NPC area advisor, judicial procedures, Panhellenic programming, academics and Panhellenic community impact and relations.
The NPC recognizes associations across the country who meet five or more of the criteria. This year, the organization recognized 27 Excellence Award recipients, who met all seven criteria, and 12 Achievement Award recipients, who met five or six criteria. For William & Mary, this was the third year in a row that its own Panhellenic council succeeded in all seven categories.
“I think it means a lot to W&M having won these past three years, because it’s showing that we are moving in the right direction and continuing, hopefully, to work for our community in the best way possible. … [and] that we’re more than just social organizations and we are hopefully creating some kind of lasting positive impression on the College,” said Carter.
W&M’s council was recognized alongside those of other such colleges and universities as the University of Alabama, Texas A&M and Louisiana State University. It is comprised of 10 Panhellenic-recognized sororities (up from nine last year): Alpha Chi Omega, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Gamma, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Delta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Pi Beta Phi and, new addition, Phi Mu.
Sorority members “strive to live” according to the Panhellenic Creed, which begins, “We, as Undergraduate members of women’s fraternities, stand for good scholarship, for guarding of good health, for maintenance of fine standards, and for serving, to the best of our ability, our college community. Cooperation for furthering fraternity life, in harmony with its best possibilities, is the ideal that shall guide our fraternity activities.”
According to Carter, members take the values and tenants of Greek life to heart by letting them guide their missions, not in order to gain recognition, but to focus on the work being done for the good of the community. She stated that participation with the Arc of Greater Williamsburg, which has been the service partner of W&M’s fraternity and sorority community since 1999, is one of several areas that has flourished in recent years.
“We have to basically almost turn people [volunteers] away from Arc carnivals and Arc dances, because we have so many volunteers and not even enough clients,” said Carter.
Carter noted that while winning an award is a perk of the work being done, recognition is not the ultimate goal for W&M’s sororities. Instead, the award is more a reflection of the mission to create a meaningful impact on the Williamsburg and W&M community.
“The categories they [NPC] were looking for when they were giving out those awards are all something we take very seriously, whether that be service, reaching out to the greater community, or our work with IFC [Interfraternity Council] and NPHC [National Pan-Hellenic Council], the other councils. They are all individual goals we have as a council, so it’s a guiding force having those goals in place. But at the end of the day, it’s nice to win an award, but I think our biggest goal more is helping our community,” said Carter.
Established in 1902, the National Panhellenic Conference is the supervising group for 26 national and international sororities. Member sororities are located on more than 670 campuses with 380,565 undergraduate members in 3,234 chapters.
“NPC was founded to build cooperation among sororities on campus, and the 39 College Panhellenic Associations being recognized embody the idea that by working together each individual chapter becomes stronger,” said Frances Michelson, Panhellenic chairman, in a press release.
Those founding ideals are exactly what Carter believes W&M’s member sororities and the Panhellenic Council exemplify, ultimately striving to foster a stronger communal bond between all members and cooperating organizations for the greater good of the surrounding community.“I think that as a whole our Panhellenic community has grown stronger,” said Carter. “I see less and less competition among the sororities from when I joined, not that it was even all that bad when I joined. But, I think I continue to see a lot of the sororities working together and coming together, because we all serve a pretty much common purpose.”