February 5, 2001

Student Leaders Attend Conference

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Leaders from Cornell’s 43 fraternities and 15 sororities met at Statler Hall on Saturday for the annual A.D. White Leadership Conference to discuss the most important issues facing Greek life.

Each fraternity and sorority house sent about five executive board members to the conference, which consisted of a guest keynote speaker, three small-group conference sessions, a luncheon and an address by President Hunter R. Rawlings III.

In a speech entitled “Living Out Loud,” Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, the keynote speaker, encouraged the audience to live in a way that would make the world more enjoyable for themselves and others.

“I read in The New York Times a quote by Emile Zolick that said, ‘we are going to talk about living out loud because if you were to ask me what I came to this world to do, I would say I came to live out loud. I want to convince you to live your life out loud,'” said Guenzler-Stevens.

Guenzler-Stevens gave the audience six life lessons. She encouraged audience members to always follow their beliefs, values and standards.

Remarking sarcastically on an attempt by a fraternity at the University of Maryland to remember their values by doing community service, Guenzler-Stevens quipped, “There was even a fundraiser called ‘Drink For Those Who Can’t.'”

Students were very inspired by Guenzler-Steven’s speech.

“She was so motivating and really drove home the point of doing community service and helping out others. I would even like to bring her back to campus for the rest of the students to hear,” said Jamie Porco ’03, the vice president of communications and University relations of the Panhellenic Association.

Following the keynote address, the student leaders attended three breakout sessions on a variety of topics. Some of the sessions were on leadership techniques, community service programs, creating effective alumni relations programs, health concerns, successful recruitment and new member education.

In one session entitled “Presidents’ Training,” Suzy M. Nelson, associate dean of students, fraternity and sorority affairs, asked the attendees to think why they are president and what they would like to accomplish. Many people said that risk management is a big concern. Others moved to improve the image of their house.

“We want to know how our chapter is doing and if we are upholding our name,” said Carrie Lipper ’03, vice president of the Sigma Delta Tau Sorority.

The social chairs of each house attended a session regarding responsibility at events.

“By law, it is your responsibility to know who your guests are and make sure they are drinking legally,” said Felicia Hunt, assistant dean of students, fraternity and sorority affairs. “You assume the responsibility of their behavior and actions when they come into your house.”

Hunt encouraged the social chairs to register all of their parties. “When you register an event, you are in a sense, giving some of the liability to Cornell University. Cornell will help you monitor that event and will do everything it can to protect you,” Hunt said.

At a session focused on new member education, Michael Hayes, director of research, graduate studies and professional education in the College of Engineering, commended the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs on its organization and the services it provides to each house on campus.

“There is no place staffed like Cornell. They have many people in the administration that want to help you and make your house the best it can be,” Hayes said.

After the three breakout sessions, the conference continued with a luncheon with members of the Cornell administration and an address by Rawlings. Rawlings told the audience that although the Residential Initiative seems as if it may pose a threat to member recruitment, the administration is in full support of the Greek system.

Many of the conference attendees left with tips, techniques and ideas that they will share with their respective houses. “I thought the conference was excellent,” Porco said. “It inspired me and got me energized for the semester. It helped us to put our heads together and come up with projects that we want to undertake.”

“It was very informative. Since I have been president of my house for a semester, I would say Suzy Nelson covered all of the important issues and concerns that our members have,” said Scott Forchheimer ’02, President of Sigma Alpha Mu.

Archived article by Seth Harris