The pandemic has inspired unique ways to safely stay connected and decrease isolation. Sigma Chi Psi Sorority Inc. is an example of one of those innovative efforts. According to its website, two collegiate women–Dr. Hildra Anna Jeanetta Starks and Stephanie Robinson—formed a sisterhood for women taking online classes from accredited colleges and universities, in 2019. However, in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic briefly forced them to put the project on hold. The women later decided to safely proceed and started their first chapter in Baltimore. A while later, the first student-approved chapter of the privately-owned 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization reportedly began at Strayer University in October 2020. Sigma Chi Psi’s founders currently aspire to make their organization the first recognized collegiate Greek sorority for women pursuing higher education online.
According to a statement, the new sorority idea evolved because the founders noticed that traditional sororities and fraternities are not known to extend Greek chapters to current students taking online classes. However, Dr. Hildra Anna Jeanetta Starks, co-founder of the sorority, added that women who are earning their degrees online should not have to miss out on favorable experiences and bonds often associated with attending colleges and universities in the traditional manner, which is in-person.
“For some women, attending online classes can be a very isolating experience. These women who are wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters are also often attending to careers and families while bettering themselves through continuing their education online. With all that goes into earning a degree, it’s a shame to lose out on the bonds that come from getting to know your fellow students and the networking opportunities that often arise from those relationships,” Starks said online.
On the website, details regarding the eclectic organization are described. Members are reportedly known as “The Beautiful Jades of Sigma Chi Psi.” Successful applicants may be located across the United States or abroad. Students from technical colleges, or community colleges, may also apply for membership. Individuals who are sorority members are reportedly students who hail from various online universities. Chapters are reportedly student-approved, as opposed to university-approved.
“We’re an organization of educated women who are committed to contributing to communities through philanthropic work. We encourage intellectual growth and success by offering networking opportunities, skill-building workshops, second language lessons, retreats, and various charitable events in the hopes of creating an everlasting bond between members and a foundation of lasting friendships,” an online mission statement read.
Moreover, Robinson also recognized the need for connecting to socialize and explore common interests, even within the online education space.
“As our education system continues to evolve with the world’s technological advancements, more and more people may choose to get their education online, leaving a gap in their social experience. We want to continue the many benefits of the sororities and fraternities that have been around for hundreds of years,” co-founder Stephanie Robinson said online.
Men have not been completely left out by the founders. In fact, a statement explained that a fraternity called Gamma Sigma Gamma Fraternity Inc. is in development. The organization is accepting applications for the brotherhood. Potential members of the sorority may visit https://www.sigmachipsi.org/apply to obtain further details and instructions to apply.