The Pi Beta Phi sorority is celebrating not one, but two, big birthdays this year.
The first national sorority in America, Pi Beta Phi is turning 150. Hillsdale’s own chapter — the first chapter in Michigan — is turning 130.
The Michigan Alpha chapter was founded in 1887 and now has 57 active members. The chapter celebrated by participating in a sorority photo contest through the national headquarters of the sorority, an event that included new members, active members, and alumni.
“Our chapter has always been a really strong chapter with a really strong history,” President junior Charlotte McFaddin said. “Having celebrations like this reminds us we’re part of a broader history.”
The Ring Ching Roadshow, a traveling car named after a founding member of Pi Beta Phi and driven by an alumna, also visited the sorority last month.
“She’s been traveling all over the country and Canada, as well, just sharing Pi Phi heritage and celebrating our 150th year,” McFaddin said.
Michigan Alpha has a strong network of alumnae, McFaddin added.
One Pi Phi alumna that attended the celebration was Hannah Weikart ’15, who joined the sorority her freshman year. Being in the sorority taught her about friendship and love, she said, but also about commitment.
“My favorite thing about Pi Beta Phi is that I pledged myself to women before knowing them,” Weikart said. “I pledged my best, not just to the people I knew, but the people I didn’t know.”
It’s a commitment still following her.
“These people are still the people who show up for me, who I call in the middle of the night,” she said. “I’ve entered into a network of women.”
Recently, Weikart attended the funeral of a sorority sister’s mom. She wore her pin in support, she said.
“Pi Phi means showing up and loving people,” Weikart said. “It’s entering into something bigger than yourself.”
The women in the sorority, however, are not just dedicated to each other but also to their six core values: integrity, honor and respect, personal and intellectual growth, philanthropic service to others, sincere friendship, and, of course, lifelong commitment.
“I think having alumni there helps us remember we’re not just here for four years. Pi Beta Phi is a fraternity for our whole lives,” McFaddin said. “While we are all individuals, we all hold these common values, and I think that’s what really brings us together.”
This commitment is a tradition within Hillsdale’s chapter of the sorority.
“To have 130 years at this college is wonderful,” said senior Lauren Renslow, vice president of communications for the sorority.
“There’s a lot of history, and you can feel that not only with Hillsdale but with the sorority, too. We feel a connection to the women that have come before us.”
Renslow also said she hopes to create more of a national presence with her time in the sorority, since Michigan Alpha is a smaller chapter, but looks forward to the years ahead.
“This is a really special moment for our chapter,” she said. “I’m excited to come back for the 140th and to have the 150th here.”