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Phi Mu Fraternity no longer chapter at University

Phi Mu

Women looking to join a sorority this semester will find their choices down by one.

Phi Mu Fraternity ceased to be a sorority on campus in July.

The national organization, which is headquartered in Georgia, suspended chapter operations for the University chapter on July 10, due to “low membership.”

“It really was a big shock to us,” said Anna Cleveland, former chapter president for the University chapter of Phi Mu.

The chapter wasn’t able to meet a goal of 50 members set by the national organization, but the members tried, Cleveland said.

“We’d had a trend of low [recruitment] numbers,” Cleveland said.

The chapter hadn’t met its recruitment quota since 1996, with an uptick in 2003, said Megan Rose, the former membership director for the chapter.

“It was just that [the national organization] feels without the appropriate number of members, we can’t achieve the standard of sisterhood,” Rose said. “We don’t want to cut anyone short of what Phi Mu has to offer.”

This past spring, the chapter had 40 total members, which is about half of the quota set out by nationals and the University, Rose said.

According to an email response from Phi Mu Fraternity National President Kris Bridges, “dedicated chapter officers, chapter members, local advisers and national Phi Mu officers worked diligently to increase chapter membership, but without enough success to sustain a thriving chapter at BGSU.”

Though the national organization only stated low membership numbers as the reason, Holly Grunn, adviser of the Panhellenic Greek Council at the University, said she thinks there’s more.

“I think it was more than just recruitment, there were a number of goals their headquarters had set … [there may have been] concerns there,” she said. “I think there’s just a lot of things that make a chapter successful.”

Though she said it wasn’t the main reason, Cleveland also said the chapter had been having financial problems.

“In college, sometimes it’s hard to pay $80 a month, sometimes people struggle with that,” she said, referring to chapter membership dues, which are paid to the national organization.

Without more members, the chapter had trouble with funding, which it gets from membership dues, Rose said.

During the spring semester, the national organization didn’t let the chapter host open houses, which Rose said was due to the members’ “personality.”

“We’re not the cheerleaders of the school, we’re not the peppiest or the loudest,” Rose said. “I think they wanted to look at it a different way because we’re different than other Phi Mu chapters.”

The chapter was charged with meeting the goal, but wasn’t allowed to use open houses to do it, which had previously been the chapter’s biggest recruitment tool, Rose said.

Instead, the chapter hosted “Sprite dates.” This recruiting method featured members meeting with potential new members one on one, Cleveland said.

The chapter was able to recruit more than 10 new women, but some dropped and others graduated, and the chapter didn’t have enough new members, Cleveland said.

The national organization sent a letter to each of the members of the chapter explaining why operations were suspended. Cleveland, Rose and Grunn declined to show the letter to The BG News. The national organization didn’t reply when asked.

The women who lived in the Phi Mu house on campus had to find a new place to live and a way to stay involved in the campus’ Greek community, Cleveland said.

“Nothing has changed for me,” Rose said. “I’m still going to participate in the typical activities.”

The women intend to begin an alumni chapter in the Bowling Green, Toledo area, Cleveland said, as, come October, the women in good standing with the sorority will be granted alumni status.

“You can still be involved when you’re an alumni,” Rose said. “At that point it’s people who really cares about the philanthropy, about the things that matter.”

Phi Mu national headquarters has given the campus Panhellenic a “statement of intent to return” to the University “at such a time that sorority membership is growing and a Phi Mu chapter could be successful there,” according to the response from Bridges.

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