USM chapter of Phi Mu fighiting closure

The sisters of USM's Beta Psi chapter of the Phi Mu women's fraternity. Beta Psi is appealing a decision by its national organization to close the chapter at the end of the year due to low membership.
Courtesy of Carin Jollotta
The sisters of USM's Beta Psi chapter of the Phi Mu women's fraternity. Beta Psi is appealing a decision by its national organization to close the chapter at the end of the year due to low membership.

Posted on April 14, 2011 in News
By Noah Hurowitz

USM’s Psi Beta chapter of the Phi Mu women’s fraternity is appealing a decision by the national Phi Mu organization to close the chapter at the end of the academic year.

Chapter president Carin Jollotta announced the news in an email to other USM Greek life and student government leaders April 4.

According to Jollotta, Beta Psi is not going out without a fight. The chapter has until April 28 to appeal the decision to close. She said Beta Psi will present what she called the chapter’s plan of action to the national organization. In addition to the chapter advocating for itself, Jollotta asked the presidents of other Greek organizations at USM to send letters of support for the chapter as part of the appeal.

According to Phi Mu National President Kris Bridges, if the appeal does not succeed, the chapter will be closed May 14, and the current members will be given alumni status.

Jollotta said the Phi Mu national council had made the decision based on Beta Psi’s relatively small membership. Jollotta said her chapter currently has 12 active members and 3 prospective members.

The Greek Women’s Council at USM sets a membership limit at 36. “I think the fact we’re less than half of that requirement is affecting us a lot,” Jollotta said.

Bridges did not give a specific required membership quota for chapters, only saying Beta Psi did not meet requirements. “Each chapter is expected to meet certain standards for operations, which varies from campus to campus,” she said. “The Beta Psi’s chapter membership fell below the standard for operation.”

Jollotta said she thinks Greek organizations struggle at USM for a number of reasons. “I think we’ve had a lot of negative attention in the last few years,” she said, citing the recent legislation by the town of Gorham that banned new off-campus Greek housing and put tight restrictions on existing houses.

Jollotta also said the fact that USM is largely a commuter school, affects membership in Phi Mu and other organizations. “It’s really difficult when you’re not at the traditional, single-campus school,” she said. “Still, we have produced a strong, dynamic chapter.”

But both Jollotta and Greek Life Adviser Jason Saucier said they think things are changing for the better.

Saucier said he thinks an improvement has been the decision to move the Greek life adviser position from the Portland student life office to that in Gorham. He also said the Greek community is coming together more, instead of individual chapters focusing on their own activities.

“We’re a small community, and I think a lot of students don’t know about us,” he said. “With chapters working together, we have more visibility.”

Bridges said the decision to close the chapter was not a judgment of the Greek life environment at USM, but simply due to ongoing membership issues.

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