Engineering sorority colonizes chapter at Penn
Alpha Omega Epsilon had its official chapter installation Saturday
January 29, 2012, 8:41 pm·
Last semester, Engineering junior Stella Latscha was looking to find her niche within Penn’s engineering community, but when she looked at Theta Tau, Penn’s only engineering fraternity, she felt like it “wasn’t the right fit.”
“I was looking for something a little less professional and a little more social,” she said. “Also, almost all my friends were in Theta Tau, so I wanted to try something different.”
Fast-forward to this semester, and Latscha is now a member of the founding class of Alpha Omega Epsilon’s chapter at Penn — the University’s first-ever engineering sorority — which had its official chapter installation on Saturday. Founded in the 1980s at Marquette University, AOE now has 22 chapters nationally, according to their website.
After establishing itself as an on-campus presence in May 2011, AOE gave out 11 bids this past semester — all of which were accepted, according to Engineering senior Allie Rozsits, an AOE founding member.
AOE falls under the purview of the Engineering Student Activities Council, which is an umbrella organization for a collection of engineering co-curricular activities.
Engineering junior and eSAC President Linda Lipski said the founding members were persistent in establishing an AOE chapter at Penn.
Though AOE is not funded by eSAC, the group is an officially recognized engineering student organization.
“Our only concern is that Theta Tau has quite a presence, so with Theta already being there, will AOE attract enough girls?” Lipski said.
Engineering junior Michael Plis, Theta Tau’s regent, said his own fraternity, which has 56 members, has been “very successful” in recruiting new members.
Theta Tau was officially installed as a Penn chapter in 2008.
Plis emphasized that, although Theta Tau and AOE are “technically competitive,” they would not be competing for new members.
“I think our two organizations offer very different things,” he said. “We’re co-ed, they’re not. We’re the first professional engineering fraternity on Penn’s campus, so I think that if anyone is interested in that area, they’ll come to us.”
“Once they gain a stronger foothold, our two organizations could collaborate. We have a common goal,” Plis added.
“We are not trying to steal their people,” Rozsits said. “I think that the people who are attracted to AOE do not necessarily fit under the scope of Theta Tau.”
Plis also said that due to their need to remain a small organization, Theta Tau has had to “turn away many people.”
Looking forward, Rozsits said the turnout for AOE’s spring semester recruitment information sessions has been encouraging, with more than 20 students attending.
College freshman Shaameen Mian, who went to an information session this past Thursday, said it was a good thing that the sorority decided to expand its eligibility to include students who are studying sciences and other technical fields.
“Penn’s doing a lot to promote women in engineering and science, and this is another great initiative,” she said.
Though Rozsits acknowledged that it has proven difficult to draw interest for AOE, she is optimistic that bid numbers will continue to remain strong.
“The hardest part has been getting the word out,” she said. “I think we are constantly surprised by how many girls turn up. There are more girls interested than we think.”