It’s All Greek at Summer Meeting

Tory Glerum

Although Colgate’s fraternity and sorority houses were deserted this summer, campus was buzzing with the topic of Greek life as students, alumni and staff members gathered to participate in the Greek Life Summit, a meeting that took place over the weekend of July 11-13.

The Summit was organized by Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Greek Life Tim Mansfield after a discussion with the InterFraternity Council (IFC) and the Panhellenic Council in Spring 2008. Each active Greek organization was invited to send five members to participate in the Summit. Also invited to participate were members of the Fraternity Sorority Alumni Initiative, as well as Colgate faculty and staff. Summit participants included 52 students, 12 alumni and 13 staff members.

After meeting together in the Love Auditorium, participants were then divided into small working groups to discuss national Greek life issues such as hazing and alcohol use, as well as the specific challenges that Greek organizations face at Colgate. According to Gamma Phi Beta President senior Katherine Pezzella, the latter discussion was focused mainly on housing.

“Fraternities and sororities have a really complicated relationship with Res Life,” Pezzella said. “The University owns the houses, but [in some cases] we own the furniture. Alums come to visit and want to be able to stay in their old houses. Students will often not treat the houses well. There are a lot of complexities, but I think students were really honest with their concerns at the summit, and administrators took what we said to heart. They were really receptive to constructive criticism.”

Mansfield’s Executive Summary of the Summit includes a statement from the students of the Colgate discussion’s Four Focus Areas, which were Room Selection, Role of the Community Coordinator, House Maintenance and Improvement and Event Planning, as well as group agreements about what student leaders and the Office of Residential Life can do to handle all of these concerns in the future.

Mansfield said he was very proud of what was accomplished during the Summit and is ready to keep alive the ideas that were mentioned.

“It was great to see students really jump forward and make suggestions about how to confront threats to Greek activity,” Mansfield said. “I am grateful we had the opportunity to get students, alumni and staff to roll up their sleeves together and initiate changes. My role now is to advocate these ideas and really push IFC and Panhellenic forward.”

Pezzella agrees that the Summit was a success. She believes it should be made an annual summer activity for Greek Life student representatives and administrators involved with Greek life.

“Everybody getting together to talk on campus was really beneficial,” Pezzella said. “Something like this hasn’t happened since the acquisition of the houses. We have been trying to work long distance with alumni, which has been a rocky process, and although efforts to organize have been made in the past few years, the Summit was the first time it actually happened. And it wasn’t just a venting session or an attack on the University. Both the student and administrative participation [were] positive and proactive, and people left without any hard feelings.”

Suggestions made by participants to improve future Greek Life Summits included encouraging all executive fraternity and sorority members to attend, inviting more national representatives and creating a committee to move forward and enact the ideas created at the Summit.