“It’s not the same old business meeting anymore,” said Janie Cisneros ’05, the newly elected president of Cornell’s Multicultural Greek Letter Council, of the organization’s meetings. In the short month that Cisneros has been in office, she has embarked on a crusade to revamp the governing body for Cornell’s sororities and fraternities for minority students.
Cisneros, a former president of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, inc., was elected in December to preside over the Council for 2004. Though actually nominated behind her back, Cisneros said that she does not feel that her position is “a burden,” but, rather, something to which she can bring “fresh, new and exciting ideas.”
Her improvements start with the way meetings are run. Council meetings are no longer a place to merely discuss social programming or community service. At MGLC’s last meeting, for example, Cisneros had the members form an assembly line to wrap and package Hershey’s Kisses with condoms for MGLC’s “Kisses and Condoms” event. By the end of the meeting, they were supposed to have put together all the packages they were going to need for their event. The benefit of placing such tangible goals on the agenda, Cisneros said, is that it “facilitates participation and gets people engaged.”
Though there are technically 17 MGLC chapters present on campus, the very largest have only 10 members and some have none at all.
By virtue of the small size, there is intense competition between chapters for new members. To build a more unified front, Cisneros is working to increase communication within MGLC’s various member chapters as well as with the other Greek governing bodies. Cisneros meets with Stephanie Wedekind ’05, president of Cornell’s Panhellenic Association, and Jeffrey Massa ’05, president of the Interfraternity Council, once a week.
Despite its small size, however, the MGLC has seen “tremendous growth” in the last few years, according to Suzy Nelson, associate deal of students, fraternity and sorority affairs. “When I came in 1998, there were four organizations; now there are 14 [with active members].”
In addition to rising numbers, the MGLC has grown to reach a wider demographic. Originally, the minority Greek organizations only included African-American sororities and fraternities and were governed by the Black Greek Council. In 1992, it expanded to include some Latino groups and changed its name to the African and Latino Greek Council. It was not until 1998 that the MGLC was created, and it now includes Latino/Latina, historically African-American and Asian interest groups.
Cisneros’s work has others impressed. “She’s organized; she’s on top of everything,” Nelson said. “Really, she’s great.”
Cisneros serves as the webmaster for La Asoci