Three sophomores have taken on the task to re-charter a new women’s social club, Tri Kappa Gamma.
Tri Kappa Gamma was started in 1986 by Lisa Lane, now Lisa Herndon, April Bullock and Cindy Leeper.
“At the time, there were not a lot of options for girls to pledge,” said Dena Counts, instructor of communication and director of forensics.”They started the club with their freshman class.”
Counts was a member of TKG and was part of the first large pledge class of ’87 that consisted of 60 women.
“It was a pretty big club,” she said. “We won Sing Song when I was a senior.
The goal of the club’s creation was to attract a unique, diverse set of women.
“We wanted a club that would draw all types of people, not just stereotypes,” Counts said.
However, the club started to die out in the ’90s and was eventually discontinued due to a lack of funds. Aside from a re-charter in 2005, the club has not been active.
Kelly Shelton, Desiree Tresslar and Brooklyn Merkford are attempting to re-charter TKG.
When the three realized they wouldn’t be able to pledge the same club this semester, they took matters into their own hands.
“We originally all wanted to be in the same club,” Shelton said. “We all went through rushing together but we didn’t all get into the same club. That was our main goal – to all be together.”
The three were shooting for Sigma Theta Chi, but Merkford, an education major from Round Rock, was the only one who received a bid. Shelton, a finance major from Austin, and Tresslar, a secondary education major from Austin, both received bids from GATA.
After withdrawing from the pledge process just before bid night, the three went to Mark Jackson, associate director of student organizations and programs, to see what they could do to keep their dream of pledging together alive.
“We went to Mark and were like, ‘How hard would it be to start a new club?'” Shelton said. “He gave us a list of clubs we could recharter and told us that Tri Kappa Gamma was the best as far as alumni that we would be able to talk to.”
After that, the trio set out to make the idea a reality. They conducted an interest meeting which about 20 women attended.
“We got a list of girls from Mark that didn’t get into the club they wanted or dropped out of the rushing process at some point,” Shelton said. “Right now, were just looking for girls who might be interested.”
The team has a goal of participating in the fall rushing process next year, but must first find sponsors.
“We asked Dena Counts to be our on-campus advisor, and she’s considering it,” Shelton said. “We also talked to Lisa Herndon, and she agreed to be our off-campus sponsor.”
With one guaranteed sponsor and one on the fence, the three will attend the homecoming breakfast to talk with alumni who may be interested in supporting their efforts.
“Alumni are really important because that’s where funding is going to come from,” Shelton said.
With the vision of re-creating a club that will welcome all types of women, Shelton, Tresslar and Merkford hope to add to the social club dynamic.
“We really just want to create another club that people want to be a part of and that draws people to meeting other girls and just having fun,” Shelton said. “Our goal is to have fun. We don’t want it to be something that’s overwhelming or time-consuming; that’s not what we’re looking for.”
The women stress the importance of inclusion and diversity.
“We really want to be diverse,” Shelton said. “We’re trying to reach out to all the athletes, the nursing majors and people that don’t think they have time for club. We want to make it a club where anyone can do it.”
The re-charter of TKG could increase competition for club choice, but the trio have the support of fellow women’s social clubs on campus.
“A lot of the girls from other clubs were very supportive because they see how hard it is for them to have to cut so many girls,” Shelton said. “Clubs weren’t intended to take pledge classes of 65 girls like they do now; they were intended to take 45 to 50. By making another club, we can turn that around.”
For now, the three are in the process of amending the constitution and collecting interest but hope to put their plan into action as early as next spring.