October 2, 2002

Initiative Seeks Improvement in Greek Programs

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The Fraternity and Sorority Residential Initiative Committee met last Saturday to discuss Chapters of Excellence, a new residential initiative intended to “bring out more of the cultural aspects” of Greek life, according to Amy Herf, assistant director of external relations for student and academic services.


The initiative will work primarily in improving fraternity and sorority programs that already exist, Herf said.

Three central aspects of the program include mentoring, cultural and educational programs and chapter facilities. Mentors will include alumni who provide leadership support in areas ranging from recruitment to alumni relations. Faculty advisors and staff will also provide intellectual and cultural support.

New Avenues

“[They will] do a better job mentoring students to vary their opportunities,” said Suzy Nelson, associate dean of students for fraternity and sorority affairs.

The idea sprouted from Cornell’s North and West Campus initiatives to improve student involvement and leadership as well as social and cultural activities within dorms.

“It’s vitally important that the Greek system be part of [this overall campus initiative],” said Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services.

Leaders in the Greek system agree.

“While many people are concerned about the impact the West Campus Initiative will have on the Greek system, I believe that the Greek system offers a very unique and special experience to students that cannot be duplicated or replaced by the [West Campus] living-learning houses,” said Lindsay Williams ’03, president of the Panhellenic Association. “However, with the University providing additional cultural, educational and social programming in the West Campus Initiative, the Greek system is responding with increased programming for its members as well.”

The cultural and educational programs will continue the Greek life tradition of community service and philanthropic events. Chapters will be encouraged to identify and research social problems and then discuss possible solutions. Local service opportunities include raising funds and refurbishing shelters. Cultural events will include late-night activities such as an after-hours jazz night which would rotate monthly between different houses.

There will still be leadership and individual decisions within each house, but more events will be sponsored by one house and open to all other chapters within the program.

As for chapter facilities, each chapter will be responsible for raising funds to maintain the cleanliness and safety of its housing. Alumni support and donations will constitute a significant amount of the money raised for this effort.

Chapters of Excellence is “well-rounded in its approach [and] is intended to enhance the current experience of students in the Greek world,” Nelson said.

The initiative will begin with a Chapters of Excellence pilot program that will most likely be launched in fall 2003. The pilot will include five to seven chapters from the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Association and the Multicultural Greek Letter Group. Although fraternities and sororities are located all over campus, the plan is to focus on a certain neighborhood, making it easier to co-sponsor events. The pilot will begin with fraternities in McGraw Place and sororities from other parts of campus, since none are located within that immediate area.

According to Williams, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs has selected the Chapters of Excellence based on criteria of “outstanding academic, leadership, philanthropic, new-member and social programming.”

“The participating chapters are in a position to take their organizations and programming to the next level,” she said.

“It’s a very positive suggestion to work with some of our chapters that are doing well and [still improve them],” Murphy said.

“I think the Greek Initiative will be a huge success and will add another component to an already outstanding Greek experience so many undergraduates have had,” Williams said.

Archived article by Diana Lo