Gamma Chi Chapter was founded at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. on June 7, 1929.
1,805 initiates (as of June 2018)
Gamma Chi at The George Washington University and Gamma Psi at the University of Maryland have the distinction of being the only two Kappa Kappa Gamma chapters to be installed at the same time, June 7, 1929; and in the same place, the College Park house of the Maryland local, Sigma Delta. They were known as “The Heavenly Twins.”
The George Washington University, chartered as The Columbian College of the District of Columbia in 1821 by Congress, was a Baptist college for its first 75 years. In 1873, the name was changed to Columbian University. In 1904, by Act of Congress, it was removed from denominational control, placed under a self-perpetuation board of trustees, and called The George Washington University. It is the only university in the United States whose charter is signed by a U.S. President (James Monroe). President Monroe attended the first Commencement, along with several cabinet members and the Marquis de Lafayette.
The university plays an unusual role in the city’s educational system since, from early years, its night classes have given daytime employees opportunities for professional advancement. Because of the university’s location, national and international events are significant to its students who are offered the greatest resource material available in the U.S. It is not surprising that many students work in this matrix of governmental institutions while attending school.
The campus is in Washington, D.C. The university does not have rolling hills and playing fields, but academic buildings amid town houses. Women’s groups usually have suites of rooms in university buildings. Gamma Chi has had four, starting with the one rented in 1922 by Gamma Beta Pi, the local sorority that later became a Kappa chapter. During the 1960s, the groups were moved to “Sorority Hall” on F Street.
On March 6, 1920, six girls, feeling that four women’s fraternities on campus did not adequately provide for the increasing number of female students, established a local organization called the Coalition Club and immediately wrote Kappa Kappa Gamma asking to be put on record as a petitioning group. Within a few months, the name was changed to Gamma Beta Pi, in order to conform with Panhellenic rules.
Real interest was not shown until the 1923 formation of the Kappa Washington, D.C., Alumnae Association, and the first formal request to petition was presented to the Extension Committee in 1926. At that time the group was neither discouraged nor given permission to petition, and it was only after the 1928 General Convention that Gamma Beta Pi was to be allowed to petition formally. In April 1929, it was learned that the local would become a new Kappa chapter. The winter of uncertainty was over and ended in a night of celebration with congratulations from the university president, other fraternal groups and the student body.
One week before Installation, the chapter’s Vice President, a young public school teacher, died from drowning, but her name is on the charter as a founding member. In her honor, her mother presented the new chapter with a hand-illuminated and lettered Book of Ritual, a highly prized possession, always used for chapter ceremonies.
On June 7 and 8, 1929, the two new chapters were installed. Beta Iota, Swarthmore, sponsored Gamma Chi, actives from Beta Alpha—Pennsylvania, and Gamma Kappa—William and Mary, took part, and the Washington alumnae assisted. More than 200 attended the banquet at the historic Willard Hotel and heard the address by the Fraternity President, Georgia Hayden Lloyd-Jones, Eta—Wisconsin.
During its nine years as a local, Gamma Beta Pi had successfully rushed against the national groups on campus, developing inwardly and gaining strength. The group was outstanding in athletics, publications, dramatics and the scholarship cup was almost a fixture in the Gamma Beta Pi rooms.
The chapter has recorded many “firsts” over the years. It claimed the first female president of a graduating class, first recipient of a Ph.D. in psychology, and the first female editor of the student paper, the Hatchet. The first year there were female cheerleaders, three were Kappas. (In 1957 five out of nine cheerleaders were Gamma Chis.) In the early 1970s, a Kappa became the first Panhellenic woman to serve on the university board of trustees. Since the chartering of Phi Beta Kappa and Mortar Board at George Washington University, scarcely a year has gone by without at least one Kappa being elected. The earlier organizations, Sphinx and Hour Glass, honored many members of Gamma Beta Pi and Kappa.
The Washington, D.C.–Suburban Maryland Alumnae Association and the Northern Virginia Alumna Association are keenly interested in the Capital Kappas’ activities, and supply Advisory and House Board members. Joint meetings, especially on Founders Day, gifts, food for Rush (now Recruitment), supportive activities, even financial help, have made the word “alumna” synonymous with “friend” in Gamma Chi vocabulary. Advisory Board relationships have always been strong, and generally warm and close.
As the 1960s opened, the university had a strong Greek system. As late as the fall of 1967 it was a privilege, an honor, and fun to be a Greek at George Washington. It remained a privilege and honor to be a Kappa, but as national and international events threw Washington into turmoil, it became less and less enjoyable. The seeds of protest and change had been germinated. A U.S. President, a presidential candidate, and a civil rights leader had been assassinated. Washington led the nation in the rise of delinquency and the use of narcotics. The “group” approach and the Establishment were challenged. The Civil Rights Movement exploded into violence when Martin Luther King, Jr., was slain in the spring of 1968. The Peace Movement against U.S. military intervention into Southeast Asia became another revolution of protest. Confrontation took place in the streets, in organizations and on campuses.
How did all this affect Greek life at The George Washington University? On January 5, 1968, the student newspaper began to interview sorority women to determine their views on “chapter discrimination and related policies.” In April, the practice of holding Rush prior to the start of school was vetoed by the administration as interfering with university orientation. (It was believed by many that the university simply did not want to appear to be favoring Greek activities.)
By late spring, the Black Students Union called for a Human Relations Act to guarantee that “no group or organization, recognized by the university, discriminate on the grounds of race, religion or national origin through its policies or in fact.” By the fall of 1968, one-third of the Greek organizations (one-half of the women’s organizations) had left campus, either because they could not comply or because they felt the atmosphere was stifling. Gamma Chi’s chapter President provided a bridge of understanding and negotiation and maintained a note of conciliation and civility in an extremely hostile and frenetic atmosphere.
In the winter of 1970, a Panhellenic meeting was called so that the seven remaining groups could determine a course: to stay, or to recommend general withdrawal. The then Gamma Chi President was the next to last speaker. The entire tenor had been, “It’s no use … we don’t have fun or even like each other … what are we here for? … Greeks are no longer wanted on campus.” But with a few careful words, she brought the entire meeting to a re-appraisal. She declared, in part, “Something must be wrong with Kappa. We love our pledges, we love each other and our alums. We are staying. When you have left, we shall be here. We’ll welcome you back, and we’ll be the oldest and only continuous chapter on campus.” Six of the seven decided to remain. By the fall, however, only three groups were left: Kappa, Delta Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta.
Throughout this trying period there was inestimable support from the Fraternity, as well as the chapter’s Advisory Board. The next several years were hard, but Gamma Chi weathered the storm. Rush numbers dropped from 300 to around 30. Chapter size dwindled from 45 to as low as eight. Gamma Chi’s. Chapter Council was the chapter; Gamma Chi’s committee operations were the chapter meetings. Each member doubled or tripled her officer duties. And today Gamma Chi remains a chapter mighty in spirit. The previous information was excerpted from The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 1870-1976.
The information that follows has been gleaned from available resources including Chapter History Reports, chapter meeting minutes, letters and comments from chapter members and alumnae, the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Archives, and The Key. Each chapter is expected to update its history record annually. Contact Fraternity Headquarters at [email protected] with questions.
In 1985 and 1986 the Panhellenic Association is reactivated following the installations of Alpha Epsilon Phi and Sigma Delta Tau, joining Phi Sigma Sigma and Delta Theta. Kappa Kappa Gamma, as the oldest chapter on campus, is responsible for forming Panhellenic.
For our second Panhellenic Formal Recruitment in the Fall of '87, a Kappa music video was produced which resulted in thirteen new pledges, bringing the total membership to 41. Not too long ago there were only four sisters. With Kappa at the helm of Panhellenic for the past two years, there has been greater participation in sorority life. Another highlight was the visit of Fraternity President, Marion Klingbeil Williams, Missouri, the first time a national president visited GWU.
Points of pride include doubling our membership with spring and fall pledge classes in 1988 and 1989, winning awards for Ritual, Finance and Chapter/Adviser relations at the Biennial Convention in Boca Raton, Fla. Greek life continues to increase, with the addition of two new sororities. The success of our Heart sister program led to a stronger Big/Little sister program. For philanthropies, Gamma Chi raised money for the homeless, supported Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy and the D.C. Big Brother/Sister program.
In 1989Gamma Chi hosted Lambda Province Meeting where we won the scholarship award. At Founders Day we commemorated the 60th anniversary of our installation with speakers representing four decades of Gamma Chi. Chapter membership has grown from 55 to 71 women, and we have had to schedule chapter meetings in the student center, because we had outgrown our Kappa suites. The biggest challenge was the enforcement of the newly instituted alcohol policies.
At the 1990 Convention in Dallas, Gamma Chi won the award for philanthropy. Our active year included an all night sports event to raise money for a local homeless crisis center, dancing for 30 hours to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy and Jerry's Kids, winning Sigma Chi Derby Day by turning the Sigma Chi house into a bluegrass band club with square dancing. Money raised went to Help Me Up, a horse to benefit handicapped children. The pledge philanthropy project was a trip to a shelter for battered women and children, performing skits and reading stories. Also, we keep a Kappa Korner, a room at the D.C. General Hospital which we stock with books and toys for the patients.
The Office of Campus Life awarded Gamma Chi an “Outstanding Chapter Award of 1991” over all Greek organizations on campus. The Washington, D.C. Alumnae Association honored us with a scholarship award for the highest GPA, at 3.1. And at Province Meeting at the University of North Carolina, Gamma Chi received awards for pledge, membership and social graciousness. For philanthropies we sponsored an owl at the National Zoo, collected grocery receipts raising $7,507 to buy computers for schools, support “Kappa Korner,” a reading room at D.C. General Hospital, funded by a car wash with Pi Kappa Alpha, sponsored a walk to benefit AIDS and held a successful blood drive with Sigma Alpha Epsilon, breaking our record from the previous year.
Although the Greek system on campus suffered setbacks due to the charter revocation of Kappa Sigma and the loss of residence for Sigma Phi Epsilon, other Greek organizations worked hard to solidify the position of Greek life. A Kappa played an important role as president of the Panhellenic Association. Gamma Chi had the highest GPA on campus, plus the pledge class with the highest GPA. A host of new activities were held, including barbecues with fraternities and two chapter retreats. At Convention in Phoenix an amendment to the ByLaws changed the name of the Personnel Committee to the Standards Committee, although the purpose stays the same. This year the chapter president was elected Homecoming Queen and the chapter came in second overall. Once again Kappa placed first in Sigma Chi Derby Days.
Our president from '94-'95 won the Greek Woman of the Year Award. And at Province Meeting in Roanoke, the chapter won awards for philanthropy and Advisory Board. Gamma Chi has members on the boards of Order of Omega, the Panhellenic Association and the Dean's Advisory Council. A fashion show raised funds for Breast Cancer Research and Greek Life on campus increased dramatically with the approach of the university's 175th anniversary. New social events included a toga party, a picnic in Great Falls, a moonlight cruise on the “Spirit of Washington,” and a Tie mixer with Kappa Sigma, where each sister had to find her date by figuring out who's tie she was wearing.
In 1996 the campus celebrated the 175th anniversary of the university. Greek Life continues to increase, with a new sorority coming onto campus, Alpha Delta Pi. During the 175th Homecoming weekend Gamma Chi won first place for our banner and first place for our parade performance. Our chapter has several members in Order of Omega, Golden Key Honor Society, in The Student Association, Panhellenic Council and the Dean's Advisory Council. The financial committee and the Standards committee did an excellent job of motivating sisters to meet financial obligations and participate in events, with the invention of the “Vermonster,” a huge Ben and Jerry's ice-cream sundae. Every sister paying their dues earned their spoon and was invited to enjoy the ice-cream and company of her fellow sisters.
At Province Meeting in 1977 Gamma Chi won won the pledge award for our endeavors as a pilot chapter in the new member program, and the Advisory Board won for best Advisory Board. The chapter participated in many philanthropies including the Washington, D.C. AIDS walk, Clean Up Foggy Bottom to make our community a cleaner, safer place, the annual Greek Fashion Show and our second annual “movie night” to raise money for Breast Cancer research. Several workshops focused on rituals, fraternity education and on rape conducted by the DC Rape Crisis Center.
Gamma Chi received the highest award in April, 1998, the Dean's Award for Superlative Chapter Achievement. In the spring semester we had the highest GPA of all sororities and fraternities. We were also the one of the first chapters to begin using the new “Chapter Finance System” and the House Corporation purchased a new computer for the chapter which came with the new Fraternity program installed. In the spring of 1998, the Standards Committee gave out its first Perfect Attendance Award, completing a goal of increasing participation.
We began planning for Province Meeting to be held in the Spring of 1999 which Gamma Chi will host. Twenty one sisters earned a place on the Dean's List with a 3.5 GPA or better. The chapter as a whole achieved a 3.14 GPA, the highest of the 24 sororities. In the fall of 1999, with a large pledge class of 25, a challenge to unify the New Members started a number of one-on-one events such as “Sister of the Week.” Each week a New Member would meet with one sister for dinner or just to talk and get to know each other.
Besides hosting seven other Kappa chapters at Province Meeting in the spring 0f 1999, the Fraternity asked Gamma Chi to participate in the recruitment and initiation of a new chapter at John's Hopkins University in Baltimore. Sisters also participated in such philanthropy events as doing yard work and planting flowers at Sasha's House, a home for patients battling the AIDS virus, and displaying tee shirts made by women who have been victims of domestic violence.
Early in the decade the university built Townhouse Row and we were thrilled to have a home at last. In the fall of 2005, we welcomed 28 new members, hosted Founders Day with a display of historical documents and photographs of our chapter's rich legacy. Our new philanthropy, Reading is Fundamental, has been a great addition this year, as we made bookmarks for local schools. Our Kappa Kickball raises funds for our RIF events. Upon the building of townhouse row three years ago, Kappa was awarded the F house, one of the coveted positions on campus. With eight sororities and twelve fraternities on campus, now Gamma Chi had to prove their right to keep their home, banding together and participating in every Greek function on campus, strengthening our unity as a chapter. Our officers created a fantastic presentation highlighting our chapter strengths and goals and the university offered us another year in the house.
Late in the fall of 2006 we held an academic dinner to help guide younger sisters in making their new schedules for 2007 and address any concerns they had about the new academic calendar. Our Kappa Kickball tournament helps fund our Reading is Fundamental philanthropy. Sister events this year included family dinners, pumpkin carving, Thanksgiving dinner, a St. Patrick's Day party, an Oscar party, making Valentines and socials. In the spring of 2007 sisters distributed books to D.C. Schools. We spent much of 2007 planning a nation-wide event involving sisters across the country and RIF. Gamma Chi will pilot this event in the beginning of February, 2008. We celebrated Founders Day Oct. 16, 2007 and for this year we focused on improving our rituals, with a Kappa ritual trainer perfecting our initiation and formal meeting ceremonies. Coming back from winter break, Kappa Kappa Gamma began the busy year of 2008, which included everything from formals and sweetheart competitions to philanthropy events and Spring Jam.
Spring Jam was one of the highlights of spring semester. We were paired with Alpha Tau Omega, Sigma Pi, and Sigma Nu. We had a lot of fun with the dance and band competitions. Although we didn’t place very high in the competitions, we enjoyed the environment of Spring Jam altogether! The weekend of Spring Jam, we also held our Philanthropy called Breakfast at Kappa, a tradition in the forming, and it was a fantastic way to recap a week full of exciting events. The day was very successful, and we had great community and alumnae turn out.
Homecoming was an exciting start to fall semester. We were paired with Sigma Phi Epsilon, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and Delta Kappa Epsilon. We won the lip-sync competition and plan on making it a tradition. During sweetheart week we also held our fall Philanthropy event, which was called Kappa Kappa Jamma. We invited everyone we knew over to our chapter house for Buffalo Wild Wings and karaoke. All of the men who were running for our sweetheart got up on stage to sing karaoke with their Fraternity brothers. The philanthropy was a huge success, and our living room was packed.
Fall semester also included the Leadership Academy, attended by one of our members on behalf of our chapter. Who was proud to share the things she learned from other Kappa Chapters. We were paired with Gamma Phi Beta for our sisterhood event in the spring. We decorated cookies and made holiday cards for the soldiers. We also gave each other house tours of our chapter houses.
After recruitment in 2009 was completed, our chapter expanded significantly. We gained 51 new girls and celebrated by telling stories about ourselves and bonding with our fellow sisters with weekly dinners and study time. GW has an urban, eclectic feel. We have an impressive career development program that helps students attain internships and participate in federal work-study programs. Our chapter values all that GW has to offer. Gamma Chi boasts an impressive yearly GPA. As active members in Greek Life, we try to contribute positively by participating in Greek Week, being kind to others and continuing our support of other chapters’ projects like Pike’s Fireman Challenge and Sigma Chi’s Derby Days. We are dedicated to our philanthropy, Reading is Fundamental and we raise money during our Kappa Kickball event to support RIF. Gamma Chi is also committed to Reading is Key as our signature event where we read to elementary school children and promote Children’s Literacy.
In 2011, our chapter was put on social and disciplinary probation and has lost our house due to hazing allegations. While Gamma Chi is not defined by bricks and morter, we value the time we have spent in our townhouse. Members from every pledge class visit the house when they need the support of their sisters, and our town house is a place where sisters can bond and be their true selves. Chapter Council has met every Sunday before our chapter meetings to discuss how we are going to keep morale high and encourage the sisters to keep their heads up through this tough time. In placing as one of the Gold Chapters on campus in Spring 2009, we are confident that our chapter will shine even without our townhouse. Furthermore, Chapter Council agrees that there needs to be more transparency between chapter members, chapter council, Headquarters and the University. Communication and trust is one of the most effective ways that our Chapter can prove how kind and thoughtful we are.
This previous calendar year was absolutely great for Gamma Chi! On the note of scholarship, a junior in Gamma Chi, Erica Tafuro, was already accepted in GW Medical School and is the current President of GW Med Life! We've had many campus reps from companies make presentations at our chapter meetings in the hopes of improving the academics of our chapter as a whole. We are a chapter of leaders both within KKG and the greater GW and DC communities. Our leaders are always looking to gain insight on how to be better at what they do for our chapter.
Last summer, three of our members including our past President, Sarah Potter, attended the biennial national Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity convention in Jacksonville, Florida.They were able to work on leadership skills and learn new ways to promote sisterhood bonding. Outside of Kappa related business, many of our members are involved in other extra-curricular activities. To name a few of these affiliations: GW Panhellenic Association, City Hall Residence Council, GW for Obama, Colonial Army, SAAC Council, and Class Council.
To ensure that all incoming leaders have solid roots in their positions, of past VPO held a great transition workshop to have the incoming officers meet the girls in their position. They were able to receive great advice from the outgoing officers! As a chapter, we have tried to make our presence on campus as positive as possible. We have had great success at philanthropic events in the past few semesters. In our own event, Kappa Kickball, we raised over 12,000 dollars for RIF! KKG Gamma Chi won Phi Kappa Psi's Philanthropy last spring, were Greek Week winners ( along with Phi Psi and KA)this past fall, and won Sigma Chi's Derby days philanthropy week! Our chapter was super involved in all of the philanthropic events and showed both ourselves and GW that we are an amazing group of girls. Our chapter has also participated in events such as "GW Students Against Sexual Assault 90& campaign" and GWU Invisible Children for Kony 2012.
We also had chapter members, Ivanka Farrel and Tessa Bay working on the Obama campaign this past semester which was very exciting! Gamma Chi had a fun and successful formal this past December which gave all the girls a chance to blow off some steam before finals! Gamma Chi also had many sisterhood events this year such as Ice Skating in Georgetown, trips to the White House, and many barbeques with other greek organizations.
Greek life on GW's campus has been much more active and involved these past few semesters. As a whole Greek community, each indivdual chapter is striving to promote the perception of Greek organizations to the greater public. The relations between the different councils (IFC, MGC, and Panhel) are growing and growing each day! As a chapter, Gamma Chi strives to show GW and the Greek community that we are a united front of woman. We are strong, talented, and ambitious young women who work hard to succeed in all of our endeavors. There has been a very large boost in morale these past few semesters as all the members have the same yearning to raise the standards of Gamma Chi and the Greek community as a whole. We are extremely focused on reaching our goals as a chapter.
This past semester Gamma Chi was very involved in The George Washington University community. The chapter hosted a screening of the movie “Miss Representation” and made it an open event for all of the GW community to attend. One of the goals for the chapter this semester was to make sunday chapter a really special meeting. For example, at one chapter, KKG members were served Ben and Jerry's ice cream. The semester has been busy and productive for Gamma Chi, which will continue into the fall semester.