February 16, 2004

Greeks Support Annual Leadership Conference

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Every year at the A.D. White Leadership Conference, leaders from each of 40 chapters of the Interfraternity Council, 17 chapters of the Multicultural Greek Letter Council and 12 chapters of the Panhellenic Association are given the opportunity to discuss the multitude of issues surrounding the Greek system.

This year’s conference began at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning in the Statler Ballroom with about 300 participants sitting down to a continental breakfast. After brief welcoming remarks by David Chalenski ’04, co-chair of the A.D. White Steering Committee, attendees separated for the first of three seminar sessions of the day.

Each session lasted one hour and the student leaders could pick from about eight seminars per session. Following the seminars was a sit-down luncheon and a keynote presentation by Walter Kimbrough, author of Black Greek 101: The Culture, Customs, and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities. The keynote presentation began with a history of the Greek system, from its beginnings in the American college system to the present day. Kimbrough followed the opening with a focus on the history of minority and multi-cultural fraternities and sororities.

After the historical introduction, Kimbrough got to the heart of his lecture and focused on some of the problems with the Greek system. He declared this period in Greek life history to be the “period of uncertainty,” in light of many recent hazing deaths, large lawsuits and racial issues. Indeed, several of the seminars focused on these problems, including one, “Can I Really Get Sued?” and another, “Academics and Greek Membership: Are They at Odds?”

Many of the seminars gave participants ample opportunity to interact with each other in both brainstorming sessions and general discussion of the issues at hand.

“We are doing programming which will serve the entire Greek community,” said Alexandria Reynolds ’04, co-chair of the Steering Committee. Reynolds highlighted the diversity of the programs offered. Seminars dealt with subjects ranging from how to have non-alcoholic social programming to what to do in a medical emergency. One seminar dealt with issues pertaining to the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) populations within the Greek system. These issues were presented in an interactive manner by members of Greeks United, a campus group composed of straight and LGBTQ members. Greeks United serves as a support network for members of the LGBTQ community in the Greek system.

Initial planning for the event began last November, when members of the steering committee got together with Lennon Jackson, assistant dean of students for fraternity and sorority affairs. The committee planned each seminar, contacted guest speakers, put together the extensive written material given to each participant and set up the space needed.

Chalenski noted that participation at this year’s conference had grown, with more than 300 people in attendance. Participants included not only students but alumni from several fraternities and sororities, faculty and administrators as well.

“I think it’s a good networking opportunity,” said Megan Malone ’06 of Delta Delta Delta. Malone added that the leaders of the Greek system rarely get together to discuss common issues.

Archived article by Ted Van Loan