Are you a professional sorority? What about the major requirements?
We are a social sorority. We have a house, we have movie nights, shopping trips, we do mixers* with other greek chapters. A lot of sororities had a major requirement when they were founded. We have kept the major requirement because we believe it is important to give women and non-binary individuals in STEM a supportive network of friends and sisters who know and understand the highs and lows of the field.
*Mixers are where we get together and do fun things with another sorority or fraternity (or both). For example we made gingerbread houses with Sigma Psi (sorority) the week before winter finals.
What happens if I join and then change my major?
Once a Phi Rho, always a Phi Rho. Most people change their major at some point in their career. We have sisters in this chapter who aren’t majoring in a STEM field anymore. They still share our values, live in the house, and are our sister.
How does being a small chapter impact the sorority experience?
We are smaller than the other sororities at Case, but that isn’t a bad thing. Most of our sorority is able to live in the house. There are opportunities to get involved in leadership for anyone who wants to. We vote as a chapter on the issues that affect us (budget, which philanthropy to support, when we want to have certain events, how many mixers we should try to set up, etc.), so you will always have a voice in what it means to be a sister of Phi Sigma Rho. You will know not only the name of every sister, but also something about them. We are a close knit group. Everything we do is a team effort. Our size doesn’t stop us from doing anything. Being on the Phi Rho Spartan Cup* team doesn’t require tryouts. We all get together, plan, and pool our skills to pull it off. We have an Anchor Splash Team** and we put on a big philanthropy event (Phi Rho Your Boat, a cardboard boat race when students enter in teams).
*Spartan Cup is a series of competitions between all of CWRU’s Greek Organizations. It includes egg toss, rope pull, raft races, singing competitions, skits, and fundraising for different philanthropies. It’s like field day, but the events are scattered throughout the whole year.
**Anchor Splash is Delta Gamma’s philanthropy event. Different greek organizations enter teams that compete in synchronized swimming and relay races in the pool. Proceeds benefit Delta Gamma’s national philanthropy.
What do you and your sisters like to do for fun? Favorite stories?
Movie night: Everyone piles into our chapter room. There’s a bunch of couches and chairs. We get snacks and take turns sharing our favorite movies and TV shows. We’ve watch everything from Disney to Superhero movies, animes, musicals, and the odd romantic comedy.
There’s a group of sisters who are into musicals. One will walk through the house singing something from Hamilton or Wicked and slowly it’ll become a duet and then someone else will start with backup vocals and on it goes.
Food! All you have to do is stick your head into one of the common rooms or text the group chat and you’ll find someone to go get Kenkos (or really any food) with. We also have a little band of bakers who are always looking for sous chefs and taste testers.
Random Cleveland adventures. One sister: “Hey! I need to go get some yogurt from Walmart. Anyone want to come?” Four Phi Rhos pile in the car. Three hours later they’re back with Chick-fil-a, craft supplies, nerf guns, and yogurt. Or heading downtown in search of Christmas lights, or going to midnight premieres at the Tower City movie theater. Someone is always up to go on adventure.
Board game night, video game parties, and random crafting nights are all a part of being a Phi Rho.
A sister’s first snowman making experience devolved into a Big vs Little snowball fight.
Favorite CWRU Phi Rho Traditions?
Close bonds between Bigs and Littles—lots like to go get lunch together every week.
Super Crepe Saturday: Every semester we make a ridiculous amount of crepes, buy a whole bunch of toppings, and serve a free brunch out of our house for the campus. We love getting to meet new people and it’s a great way to destress. We have a lot of stress bakers.
We decorate the house for the holidays. Everyone was really into Halloween this year, so we had lights, pumpkins everywhere, window clings, wall stickers, garlands, it looked like Halloween exploded and it was great. We also happened to have Super Crepe Saturday weekend of Halloween this semester so we had an actual excuse to go all out.
Thanksgiving! Everyone brought food we had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, sweet potatoes, pies, and homemade bread. We all crammed into the dining room and had a blast.
We support each other. If a Phi Rho is in concert band or a dance class or on a sports team, the as many of us who can will be in the audience.
An older sister makes little penguin plushies for the new members. They’re a welcome home gift.
Instead of Secret Santa we do Secret Penguins.
Orchid Ball: Think prom but for Phi Rhos and their plus one. People bring friends, siblings, and significant others. We eat at a fancy restaurant, dress up, and go dancing.
What’s a day in the life of a Phi Rho at Case look like?
Full of random encounters. If you live in the house, it’s a rare moment that you leave your room and don’t find someone at the dining room table. Walking to class, in class, at the dining hall, everywhere you go, there’s always a familiar face.
Most evenings involve crowding around the big dining room table. People do homework. There’s always someone you can ask questions. People study together. People knit and craft. Some play video games or just hang out. It’s all about being together and de-stressing for a bit.
Late night chats about the meaning of life and/or cats around the dinner table.
Best part of being a Phi Rho?
Because we are a small chapter, there’s plenty of opportunities to take on leadership roles of all sizes. It’s a great way to gain confidence. Everyone is super supportive and everything we do is a team effort.
You never have to be alone. Your sisters will be there for you no matter what, through the good and the bad. Sisters’ll be there with a hug or mug of tea when everything goes wrong and they’ll be there to cheer and celebrate when you get a job offer or accepted to med school and everything goes right.
Knowing you have a group of people who always support you and are always have your back is a huge confidence booster. Looking into the audience and seeing a whole row of people who are here just for you makes standing up and playing a solo or dancing your heart out that much easier and that much better.
You can always be yourself. Everyone is very passionate about what they love. A big part of our chapter culture is sharing our passions and learning from each other. Whether it’s African fashion or anime of comics or videogames or metal forging or crafting.
Diversity is a big part of our chapter. It’s something we’re passionate about. A lot of people think having a major requirement limits us, but it doesn’t. Phi Sigma Rhos come from every background and walk of life you can imagine. We are always learning from each other.