Whittier's 11 Societies (similar in character to fraternities/sororities) have been an integral part of Whittier's traditions since the 1920s, when the earliest societies were founded as literary groups.
Societies are by their nature social organizations committed to enhancing strong connections between members, alumni/ae, and members of the Whittier and local communities. The four pillars of Societies at Whittier College are friendship, scholarship, leadership, and community service.
A very important and often unspoken aspect of being a member of a Society is the sisterhood/brotherhood/siblinghood that is shared. The bonds that are shared between members of Societies are what set them apart from other student organizations. It is more than friendship. It is the understanding that each member has taken a vow to uphold the foundations and values of the organization. This friendship is rooted in care, accountability, care, and authenticity.
Academic excellence is a tradition and priority for the Society community. First and foremost, Society members are students who pride themselves on academic accomplishments and work hard to reach and maintain high scholarship standards. Through a new series of programs and initiatives, the Inter-Society Council and individual groups assist members to excel as students. In addition, many of the Societies host group study sessions, library time, and academic monitoring.
Equally important as scholarship is leadership. Society life offers its members endless leadership opportunities not only within the Society community, but in the broader campus community as well. Together with the Dean of Students’ Office, Societies sponsor and participate in a variety of leadership programs such as Society Development Days, Campus Leadership Workshops, Local Fraternity and Sorority Conferences, and New Member Leadership Workshops.
Each year, members of the Society community contribute hundreds of volunteer hours and raised dollars to local and national charities. Societies take part in a wide variety of philanthropic events and encourage others within their community to participate. In the past, Societies have participated in events such as AIDS Walk LA and Relay for Life, volunteered at campus blood drives and soup kitchens, and have served as tutors and mentors to a wide variety of children in the greater community. Additionally, each Society pursues individual service projects throughout the year.
How to Join a Society
Each fall, there are a number of opportunities to meet with current society officers and members to learn more about the individual organizations and begin the process of selecting and joining. Those interested in joining a society are HIGHLY encouraged to attend all open houses and rush during the fall, as well as the Student Activities Fair the Wednesday after the first day of classes. Bids are given out at the end of fall semester, with New Member Education occurring at the beginning of the spring semester. To be eligible to join a Society, a student must have completed at least one semester at Whittier College and have a 2.5 Fall semester and cumulative GPA.
Societies for Women
The ladies of the Athenian society are a distinguished group of women whose activities emphasize sisterhood, social events, service to the community, and scholarship. Members are involved in a wide array of activities on and off campus and share the common strong bond of sisterhood.
Individually Unique, Together Complete. Ionians pride themselves on sisterhood, giving back to the community, building leadership, and promoting the individual. Ionians celebrate their differences and work together as a whole.
Suspended in December 2016 until August 2019 for hazing and other violations of the Student Code of Conduct. The society remains unrecognized until further notice.
The purpose of this society is to attain the highest ideals of American womanhood by promoting a spirit of friendship and cooperation, developing aesthetic appreciation in ourselves and others, giving service to the community, remaining loyal to one another and to ourselves, and striving to maintain high academic standards.
Visit the Palmers website
The Thalian society is composed of a large and diverse group of women who share a sisterhood and an everlasting bond of friendship. Each individual woman has something unique to bring to the society. "Chance made us sisters. Hearts made us friends."
Visit the Thalians website
Societies for Men
The Franklin society, founded in 1921, was the earliest Whittier College fraternity. The purpose of the fraternity is to perpetuate lifelong friendships by developing well rounded character in its members, encouraging self-expression, leadership, individuality, and above all, a successful brotherhood.
The Lancer society seeks to represent the true spirit of Whittier College, to instill the motive of service without the desire for reward, to carry on a social and cultural program, to be helpful to new students, and to create and maintain activities for the betterment of the students and the College.
The Orthogonian society was founded in 1929 on the principles of giving your 100% and staying true to yourself. Since its inception, the society has consistently produced leaders from team captains and student body presidents to the city mayor and president of the United States.
The William Penn society is an organization made up of individuals with many different talents, backgrounds, and personalities. The Penns encourage diversity and believe in strength through diversity. The society provides opportunities for service and for social and personal growth.
Gender Non-Conforming Societies
Inactive since 2016. The society remains unrecognized until further notice.
The Sachsen society is a society composed of Whittier College students, emphasizing the unique individualities of its members. It recently returned to Whittier after not being officially registered with Whittier College in more than a decade.