San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Delta Zeta sorority closes SDSU chapter due to low membership

After years of struggling with low membership, Delta Zeta’s SDSU Gamma Omicron chapter closed its doors in December
Courtesy of Delta Zeta Sorority
From left-to-right: Carmen Bregoli, Kathya Gutierrez, Avery Tobiassen

Delta Zeta’s Gamma Omicron sorority chapter at San Diego State University closed its doors this past December after years of declining numbers in membership put strain on its active members.

Delta Zeta, which was originally installed as a part of the College Panhellenic Association at SDSU in 1949, has struggled with low membership for years. Despite this, members of the Gamma Omicron chapter, including Delta Zeta’s 2022 VP Membership Makena Levy, appreciated the closer bonds they were able to form because of it. In strenuous situations such as planning recruitment and philanthropy events, Levy attributed the girls’ perseverance to the strong friendships formed between members and their ability to lean on one another whenever necessary.

Both active members and other Panhellenic members expressed they were upset to see the chapter close, but the active members agreed that the pressure of constantly recruiting was weighing on their well-being. 

“We were very proud of the chapter and where we had gone and all we had accomplished in the time that it was an active chapter,” Levy said. “We just decided it was better to end it on a high note. We all love Delta Zeta so much and would have loved to see it on campus, but it was ultimately just what was better for all of us as individuals and us as a sisterhood and a chapter.”

The Gamma Omicron chapter’s decision to close came shortly after last year’s nine chapters of SDSU’s College Panhellenic Association voted to open an extension exploratory committee where 10 women across the now eight chapters will research whether or not the Panhellenic community is ready to welcome a new sorority to campus. 2023 College Panhellenic Association President Sophie Rokaw noted that the decision came after fall 2022 recruitment, when only 800-900 out of 1600 potential new members received bids to join a chapter. 

Delta Zeta had roughly 30 active members in its last semester, according to Levy, which contrasted significantly with the other eight SDSU Panhellenic chapters’ average of over 200 active members each. 

According to Levy, the Gamma Omicron chapter was unable to recruit a single member during fall 2022, despite so many girls participating in recruitment. Both Levy and Claire Theroux, Delta Zeta’s 2021 VP membership, explained that the chapter’s struggle with recruiting potential new members began long before they joined Delta Zeta during the 2019-2020 school year.

“When you have 1,600 PNMs (Potential New Members) going through and they’re seeing these other chapters with like 200 plus members, and then coming to ours which is significantly less, obviously that’s not like the best image that PNMs want to see,” Theroux said. “As much as you try to sell the closeness and stuff, they still have that image of other chapters being significantly larger.”

The chapter announced its closing in a letter at the Nov. 7 Panhellenic Council meeting and on social media the next day. During the meeting, Delta Zeta also requested that the Panhellenic Council hold a vote to allow Delta Zeta the first right of refusal the next time SDSU should start the Panhellenic extension process. 

This right would allow Delta Zeta the opportunity to be the first sorority extended an invitation by the College Panhellenic Association to return to SDSU in their next expansion and give the Gamma Omicron chapter a choice to accept or decline that invitation. 

“One day I would love to see Delta Zeta come back to San Diego State,” Levy said. “I do think that our chapter has a lot to offer this school.”

Sandy Bartlett, a 66-year-old alumna from Delta Zeta’s Iota Upsilon chapter at California State University, Fullerton, was saddened by the news of the chapter’s closing. Bartlett was a former regional collegiate director who supervised a number of Delta Zeta chapters on the West Coast at the time Delta Zeta was recolonizing at SDSU in the 2000s. 

“I am still friends with some of the gals that I was in the chapter with in college; my closest friends are all Delta Zetas,” Bartlett said. “It’s never easy when a chapter closes, but those women will maintain their sisterhood and friendships, just like I have, throughout their lives.”

Delta Zeta hosted multiple philanthropy events at SDSU every semester including Scoops for Starkey, Slices for Starkey, trivia nights, a Valentine’s Day donut event and a nacho fundraiser. According to Levy, the chapter was dedicated to being well-educated on people that are hard of hearing, as all of its fundraisers supported the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

However, Levy was most proud of the chapter’s sisterhood. All of the former members are now considered alumnae but still share close relationships, as many still reside in the sorority’s house. As alumnae, Levy and at least five others from the Gamma Omicron chapter have now joined Delta Zeta’s local San Diego alumnae chapter. 

“Even the women who have graduated, I still keep in touch with all of them and they keep in touch with other people in our chapter as well,” Levy said. “Those connections that we made are the biggest accomplishment that we ever had because they really are those lifelong connections everyone is looking for when they try to join a sorority.”

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Delta Zeta sorority closes SDSU chapter due to low membership