February 10, 2003

Greek Community Discusses Leadership

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Greek leaders came together at the Statler Hotel for the annual A.D. White Leadership Conference on Saturday. Officers from all of Cornell’s fraternities and sororities came to the conference to share ideas and interact with other officers.

Despite the early hour, Greek leaders came ready to discuss issues pertinent to the Greek Community. After a breakfast, students broke into discussion workshops ranging from “Presidents’ Training” and “Social Programming Without Alcohol? That’s Unheard of!” to “Building a Diverse Community.”

The “Presidents’ Training” workshop was filled with leaders from fraternities under the Interfraternity Council (IFC), sororities under the Panhellenic Council and multicultural fraternities and sororities, headed by the Multicultural Greek Letter Council (MGLC).

As one of the activities, presidents were asked to make a list of their top expectations and concerns. A group headed by IFC President Paul El-Meuchy ’04 compiled a list of worrisome subjects, such as eliciting equal contributions from everyone in their houses, improving communication among members and risk management.

“We came here to learn how to lead our fraternity successfully and make our image better in the community though service, philanthropy and responsibility,” said Andrew Taffet ’05, president of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.

The “Presidents’ Training” Workshop, lead by Dean of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Suzy Nelson, also addressed issues such as sexual assault and police intervention. “Two sexual assaults were reported to me in the last two weeks,” Nelson said. “I do not believe that we have men in our system who are intent on raping women. When we talk about this issue of safety, this is one of our major concerns. This is something we absolutely have to fix.”

Graham Shell ’04, co-chair of the conference’s steering committee and the outgoing president of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity shared some advice with the group regarding police intervention at parties.

“Keep good relations with the fire department and the police,” he said. “Be sober if it’s an alcoholic event. Make sure you are present and be open, honest and responsible.”

Exchanging ideas about recruitment, police intervention and social activities was the key benefit seen by many of the Greek leaders.

“I think that the biggest thing is getting these people together. It builds a relationship between the chapters,” Shell said. “It’s a great start to their upcoming term as presidents and officers.”

The outgoing president of Sigma Pi fraternity, Adam Brown ’03, expressed similar sentiments about the conference.

“It’s a great experience for the young members, and they need a little guidance. A lot of the benefits of the Greek system is that you’re around older people and it forces you to mature.”

While the presidents’ workshop dealt with issues pertinent to the official of each house responsible for the chapter, the social chairs attended the “Social Programming Without Alcohol? That’s Unheard of!!” workshop.

Chi Phi Fraternity social chair Nick Fynan ’05 thought the conference was a good idea overall. However, he was skeptical about some of the options he and his fellow social chairs were presented with at the conference.

“You have to look at exactly what they’re trying to push. The idea that it is wrong for people to be drinking is unrealistic. At the end of the week, people don’t go out for ice cream cones, they go out to a bar for a drink,” Fynan said.

Alison Karmelek ’05, co-social chair of Pi Beta Phi sorority, shared similar sentiments.

“A lot of people on this campus won’t go to an event unless there’s alcohol involved,” she said.

Karmelek’s co-chair Becca Crawford ’05 said that many of her friends who are not in the Greek system also drink. While she is perfectly fine spending time with friends in an alcohol-free setting, the situation is different at a big fraternity party. Even so, “not everyone gets really drunk at frat parties,” Crawford said.

One of the alternatives to parties involving alcohol offered at the workshop was the activity learning how to assemble mousetraps, priced at nine dollars per participant. Other, more common ideas presented raised financial concerns among the officers.

“What they should have talked about is money issues,” said Fabi Paredes ’05. “The ideas are great in theory,” he added, but cost too much to implement.

The conference concluded with a lunch and a speech by John Spence, a motivational speaker, followed by the presentation of the John S. Dyson Citizenship Award, which went to Erica Lee ’03, member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and co-chair of the A.D. White Leadership Conference steering committee.

Archived article by Veronika Belenkaya