During freshman year I went through a sorority recruitment absentmindedly; not sure what to expect. If someone had told me that someday I would have had the chance to help make a difference in the Greek community I probably would have laughed.
However, a chance is exactly what Dr. Cheryl Callahan, affectionately known as Cherry, gave to students within the Greek community. In fall 2015, the first All-Greek Assembly was held where we discussed issues within our communities and organizations as well as the process of fixing those problems.
A Fraternity and Sorority Life Task Force was created and included Greek faculty members as well as student representation from each Greek council. This Task Force set out to explore 11 areas in which Greek life needed to be improved and sought out positive solutions to these issues.
The areas that were focused on were: academic concerns, academic concerns of non-fraternity and sorority organizations, chapter configuration, community relations, governance and leadership, hazing, housing, member recruitment and education, substance use, rape and sexual assault and university support.
After sitting through Greek assemblies where this plan of action was the main talking point, I’ve seen people get very upset about the proposed changes, as well as people who come from a place of understanding and hope to accomplish these ideas.
There were conversations about academic standards and the possibility of expansion. Despite a lot of the harder topics, expansion is one that personally filled my heart with joy. Since I arrived on campus in fall 2013, I have seen all different chapters flourish and grow.
Whether students are members of National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inter-Fraternity Council, Multicultural Alliance Council, or College Panhellenic Council, the numbers don’t lie. So many more young men and women are becoming interested in joining Greek organizations on campus.
With that growth and love for the Greek community comes a few concerns.
A common concern for women within College Panhellenic Council was the housing discussion. As Cone is set for renovation our campus officials have to decide where the four chapters of the College Panhellenic Council can be moved and if it’s feasible to include other councils in the housing plan.
Each woman has her own ideas of where sororities should be moved, and that fracture in our society is what is making it a very difficult topic for our sororities to discuss. For those members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Multicultural Alliance Council, and some members of the Inter-Fraternity Council, chapter configuration is a serious concern.
Due to the small size of some chapters, especially those which are just starting out, the members present must take on several roles within the chapter. This means that an executive board member is also taking on the role of another position, and the responsibilities therein.
As someone who was involved with the process and the creation of solutions to Greek Life’s problem areas, I am simply proud of the community I joined. Theses are the students who took a hands-on approach to making a difference, represented the voice of hundreds of students within the Greek community now and those who will become a part of it in the future.
Some of the topics were incredibly difficult to talk about with so many important university officials in the room, but it was easy to see that it was a necessary conversation. Hazing, substance abuse and rape and sexual assault are things that nobody wants to realize happen, particularly not when it involves people you may know. However, that kind of attitude and denial can lead to a bystander effect, when people need to be actively stopping and preventing these things from happening.
At the end of the day, I ended up finding out that faculty members aren’t trying to ruin Greek Life with the Task Force. Instead, they’re trying to strengthen a foundation that could easily end up crumbling if it doesn’t receive support.
On Aug. 23, 2016, there was yet another Greek Assembly. I was sad to see people with concerns who did not voice them, by becoming involved in the process of the Task Force. I learned so much through just going to one meeting in the Spring of 2016, that I want other students to be able to grow through active participation, just like I did.