SOPHIA GOURLEY ’19
With Rush Week upon us, the Tripod got acquainted with one of the new sororities on campus. We sat down with co-founder of The Order of the Elms, Kenzie Levy ’18 to learn more about the new Greek Letter Organization (GLO).
Trinity Tripod: What made you want to start a sorority at Trinity?
Kenzie Levy: From the start of my Trinity experience, I searched for ways to become involved in joining a “team” so I could bond with a close-knit group of people. My freshman year, I thought about trying to walk onto a sports team. I joined multiple clubs, and I applied to different jobs. I persistently searched for a “group,” or a way to feel acclimated. I grew up surrounded by family members who had been in Greek life organizations during their college years, and I listened to how their experiences with their sisters and brothers made their college experience the best four years of their lives. Their stories influenced my desire to become a part of Greek life while at college. I had originally discussed the idea of creating a new sorority at Trinity during my freshman year. I distinctly remember standing with Taylor Galland ’18, my co-founder and one of my best friends here at Trinity, outside of the doors to our rooms on the third floor of Elton Hall – we lived across from one another – discussing Greek life at Trinity. We were nearing the end of our freshman spring semester, and we had just attended a spring pre-rush event. Taylor and I discussed rushing, but the two of us agreed that if we had the option, we’d love to start a new sorority. I recall presenting the idea to one of my senior guy friends after he asked me if I was planning to rush, and he reacted with the following statement, “You’re planning on starting a new sorority? Yeah, right. Good luck with that!” Always being down to accept a challenge, I knew that in that moment, there would be a part of me that would remain bound and determined to prove him wrong. Since the undertaking of starting a new sorority seemed a bit ridiculous to both Taylor and myself during our sophomore fall, we tabled the idea. But as time progressed, the daunting idea secretly remained in the back of our minds. When Taylor originally approached me at the beginning of this fall – now in our junior year – I was incredibly hesitant to begin forming a sorority, and it seemed like it would be a bigger undertaking than either of us could be sure of. But Taylor had researched the process for sorority extension, and being the incredibly convincing individual that she is, talked me right into becoming the co-founder, despite my other commitments. The two of us agreed that with a new female director of Trinity’s Greek life [Kathryn Wojck, Director of Campus Life Initiatives and Social Houses] now was the time to attempt to establish a new all-female organization, and pursue national affiliation. Neither of us had any expectation that The Order would receive approval to attain national recognition, but we are incredibly happy that it did.
TT: How did you come up with the name “The Order of the Elms”?
KL: Back when we were told that we were going to need to come up with an official name for our “society,” we knew that we wanted to incorporate three different elements upon choosing the name:
1) We wanted a name that was reflective of an essential element of Trinity: our home away from home and the community that was giving us the incredible opportunity to build this organization from the ground up.
2) We wanted a title that would be classic and traditional, so that when presenting our organization during the process of attaining national letters, we would feel both confident and respectable. “The Order” was an official name that we agreed we could present with pride.
3) Although we had to come up with an “unofficial” name prior to “The Order of the Elms” for our presentation to Trinity’s IGC, we knew that we were going to change the name based off of a full group vote that would give each founding member the opportunity to come up with suggestions, and give input on the finalized decision. I made an online survey and threw out twenty-five different name possibilities prior to our choice to go with “The Order.”
Our External Vice President, Amelia Roberts ’19, presented the idea that we should stand out from the other “societies” on campus by naming ourselves with a different title. She commented, “Why don’t we name ourselves ‘The Order’ of something? That way we can distinguish ourselves.” Natalie Freedgood ’18, our Philanthropy Chair, suggested that we incorporate “The Elms” into our title, due to their prominent presence on campus. So I give Amelia and Natalie full co-collaboration credit on the fantastic finalized name choice.
TT: With the first rush for The Order of the Elms happening this week, what are you most excited for?
KL: We were incredibly excited when Kathryn, the head of Greek Life, granted us the opportunity to participate in spring rush this semester. Honestly, I am most excited to meet new girls, and to inform people about what’s in store this semester for The Order.
Additionally, we were super stoked to find out that regardless of the fact that we were not the first of the two local sororities to become approved by Trinity, we have an equal shot at receiving national status. This was not entirely clear to us – or a variety of members within the Trinity community – beforehand, but given the incredible amount of dedicated time and effort that we have all been exerting to build the organization, we are happy to hear that we might not have to wait as long for national recognition as we had originally thought.
TT: We have seen on social media that your group has teamed up with Love Your Melon. What are your goals for this partnership?
KL: Prior to our partnership with Love Your Melon, our two primary goals in regards to philanthropy were to pair up with a local philanthropic organization within the Hartford community, as well as a nationally affiliated one. Not only do we want to immerse ourselves within Hartford, but we wanted to partner with LYM specifically to extend our philanthropic reach as far as possible. Through our collaboration with LYM, the food drive donations that we made to the West Hartford Food Pantry prior to fall semester finals week, and the coat drive that we conducted over break for the The Salvation Army’s Greater Hartford Area Services, we are achieving our philanthropic pursuits. One of our sisters, Grace Metry ’18, is actually a local campus representative for Love Your Melon. Brynne MacIver ’18 and she are the Vice President and President of the chapter on our campus. We desired to partner with LYM because fifty percent of the profits from the sale of all Love Your Melon products are donated in support of the fight against pediatric cancer, and the organization has been dedicated to helping children battling the disease. The Order decided that we genuinely believe in the organization’s cause, so we contacted our campus representatives to see if we could collaborate. LYM as an organization has spread like wildfire across national campus communities and beyond. We figured that by partnering with them, we could support a cause that we are invested in, while working with amazing brand ambassadors. Check out their website, and if you buy something, cite the Trinity campus reps!
TT: Tell us a little bit about the winter coat drive that The Order of the Elms sponsored over break.
KL: The Order planned to do a coat drive over winter break specifically because we collectively desired to pursue a philanthropy project, and wanted to embark on one where we could collaborate without having to be in the same physical space, since we have multiple international members, members who were coming back from abroad, going abroad, et cetera. Taylor came up with the idea of doing a coat drive, and I came up with the title of the campaign, “Keep the Heat in the Hart-Beat,” since a lot of Trinity people refer to Hartford as “The Hartbeat.” Natalie contacted The Salvation Army’s Greater Hartford Area Services and informed the rest of The Order of the logistics about collecting the coats, and have compiled them and will be donating them this week.
TT: What can we expect to see The Order of the Elms involved in for this semester? You’ve clearly already established a philanthropic presence on campus. Will this continue as the group continues to grow?
KL: In addition to maintaining and enhancing our philanthropic involvements, we are planning on doing a variety of social events as well. I don’t want to release anything too specific yet, since nothing has been set in stone, but we have several ideas that we cannot wait to start promoting, so prepare to see a lot more from The Order! I definitely think that we will grow our philanthropic presence on campus, and with more members, we will have more creative ideas for different campaigns or events that we can host in order to aid both local and national philanthropic organizations.
SOPHIA GOURLEY ’19