August 30, 2000

Convocation Honors Greek Contributions

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Leaders of fraternities and sororities kicked off the year with a celebration of past accomplishments and a presentation of future challenges last night in Sage Chapel.

Suzy Nelson, associate dean of students, welcomed approximately 500 students to the event.

“We face a number of challenges by being Greek; tonight is the night to focus on everything we have accomplished and everything we have to offer the university,” said Felicia Hunt, associate dean for fraternity and sorority affairs.

In the past year, for instance, the Panhellenic Association (Panhel), Interfraternity Council and Multicultural Greek Letter Council jointly raised $135, 707 and gave nearly 21,000 hours in service to the community, according to Panhel President Gabrielle Erbacher ’01.

The event also provided an opportunity for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs as well as the administration to recommit their support of Cornell’s Greek system, Hunt noted.

Tony Cashen, chair of Cornell’s Fraternity and Sorority Advisory Council, reminded Greek leaders that Cornell appreciates the Greek system and praised the importance of the University’s sororities and fraternities, challenging them to increase recruitment.

Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president of student and academic affairs, herself a former member of Cornell’s Greek system, served as the evening’s keynote speaker.

“Susan Murphy definitely brought her history,” said Kate Costa ’01, Panhel vice president judicial, who introduced Murphy. “I think it’s wonderful that Susan actually was a part of our system and could really speak from the experience of being a member of Cornell’s Greek system.”

Murphy opened with a 20-year-long tradition of an annual vacation with six of her sorority sisters.

She then went on to praise student sorority and fraternity members for their respectable grade point averages and contributions to the University and community, and recognized Greek alumni for their monetary and scholarship donations, as well as for holding positions in the University. In addition to student leaders, Cornell’s Greek members serve as faculty, staff and trustees, Murphy said.

Murphy presented the leaders of the Greek community with three challenges for the future.

She requested that the Greek system work with the administration “as we integrate the Greek system into the Residential Initiative.” The Initiative involves a commitment to a diverse choice of housing alternatives, including fraternities and sororities.

She asked Greek leaders to ensure that their facilities are safe, attractive to students and conducive to “the combination of living and learning, and also for having fun.”

Murphy then recognized the recent steps the Greek system has taken against alcohol abuse, citing their work in “reclaiming homecoming” and participation in the planning of Slope Fest, an alternate activity to drinking on Slope Day. But she said too much emphasis is still placed on alcohol in the Greek system.

Cornell’s Greek system consists of about 3,000 members, 30 percent of Cornell’s campus.

“Certainly this is one of the oldest, and it’s the third largest Greek system in the nation, and I think tonight is the night where we can be proud of that,” Hunt said.

Archived article by Abbie Westervelt