California Alpha image

California Alpha

Stanford University

Founding date: 9/13/1893

Installing Officers:
Anna Lena Lewis, Kansas Alpha; Past Grand President Helen Sutliff, Kansas Alpha (1905); Past Grand President Elizabeth Turner Orr, Oregon Alpha (1979)

Philanthropic Events:

Installation of California Alpha

The California Alpha Chapter at Stanford University was originally installed on September 13, 1893. It has been reinstalled twice, a strong testament to the dedication the chapter has to Pi Beta Phi. The chapter was reinstalled for the first time on February 11, 1905, and again on November 11, 1979. In both instances when the chapter closed, it was due to the University ordering the women’s fraternities to close.

The first installation occurred on September 13, 1893, less than three years after Stanford University opened its doors. The chapter lived in Roble Hall, one of the oldest dorms on campus today and held their chapter meetings there. 

In 1905, a group of Pi Phis transferred to Stanford and formed an initiative to reinstate the chapter. After several relocations and multiple denied applications, the California Alpha Chapter was approved to be rechartered on February 11, 1905. Until 1944 the Pi Phis on Stanford’s campus lived in what is today known as “French house,” but in 1944 Stanford University imposed a ban on all women’s Greek organizations and California Alpha was forced to disband for a second time.  

Finally, in 1979, the chapter was reinstated and since then the chapter has thrived, with the University awarding the chapter with a University-owned house in 2000.

Living at California Alpha

The chapter house has 57 Pi Phis, sophomores to seniors, living in a combination of triples, doubles and singles. The chapter is one of the only three sororities at Stanford allowed to have its own house, which makes the house very special to the chapter and a privilege members are very proud to have. Members feel incredibly fortunate to have a place to call home and to conduct all official business. The house is the heart of the chapter and there is never a time where there aren’t Pi Phis gathered in the dining room or common areas working, talking or just spending time together. What sets the house apart, besides the unique and diverse members, is the effort put into creating a welcoming atmosphere for fellowship and comraderie. The house is also known for its amazing meals, thanks to a fabulous chef. The dining room is never empty! 

The chapter house is owned by the University, in accordance with University policy. When sororities were reinstated on Stanford’s campus in 1978, it was conditional upon each organization demonstrating they would operate with values in mind. As a result, the University insisted upon retaining ownership of the house and restricted certain practices. Because Pi Phi does not own the house and Stanford considers it a part of the school housing system and places non-members in the house when the chapter is not present, the chapter members are not free to decorate as they choose. Instead, members rely upon the comraderie and close friendships within the chapter to make the house special and put a strong emphasis on community.

Panhellenic Groups on Campus

Alpha Epsilon Phi, Alpha Phi, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi

Philanthropic Service

Recently, the chapter hosted a sand volleyball tournament called Arrowspike, allowing members of the Stanford community to sign up in teams to compete in support of Read > Lead > Achieve®. In addition to fundraising on campus and selling food and merchandise at the event, corporate sponsors can donate at a variety of levels to support the cause. Not only does the event help raise awareness and money in support of Read > Lead > Achieve, but it also helps foster a sense of community amongst the broader Stanford student body.

Notable Alumnae

  • Dr. Louise Pearce, physician and pathologist whose research led to the cure for African Sleeping sickness in the early 20th century
  • Amy Biehl, social justice advocate who was killed while working in support of the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa
  • Lucy Davis, silver medalist in team jumping for the US Equestrian Team at the 2016 Rio Olympics
  • Jayne Appel, center on the San Antonio Stars in the WNBA who also played basketball for Stanford
  • Laura Granville, professional American tennis player who set Stanford’s record for the most consecutive singles victories at 58