November 10, 2008

Panhellenic Council Elects New Board

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Cornell’s 11 sorority chapters on campus came together last night to elect the Panhellenic Board that will lead them for the next year. The board — which is charged with coordinating between houses and making overarching decisions affecting all sororities — works with the Interfraternity Council and Multicultural Greek Letter Council to govern Greek life on campus.
Leading the Panhel board will be Alison Ewing ’10, a member of Kappa Delta sorority and last year’s vice president of programming.
“I’m really excited about this year’s board,” she said. “We have really great personalities and I think we will all work well together.”
Stefanie Aquilina ’10 of Alpha Chi Omega sorority will take the position of executive vice president. Alison Coplan ’11 of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority will be VP of communications, Tory Hooker ’10 of Alpha Phi will take the position of VP of judicial. University and Community Relations VP will be Patricia Eliasinski ’10 of Sigma Delta Tau. Nanditha Ramachandran ’10 of Alpha Xi Delta will be the VP recruitment, publicity and extension. VP formal membership recruitment will be Meri Ruhotina ’10 of Kappa Alpha Theta. VP of programming will be Jess Powers ’11 of Delta Delta Delta, and VP of finance will be Lyla Rudgers ‘10 of Kappa Delta.
This year’s board was chosen by a slating committee, which selected one person for each of the nine positions. In total, 29 people applied for spots on the board. Katie O’Neill ’09, outgoing Panhellenic president, said that this was the largest number of people who have ever applied. People not selected were given the opportunity to contest the chosen slate last night. While two spots were contested, none of the decisions were overturned.
Going forward, O’Neil said that one of the biggest challenges will be deciding whether to invite a new house into the current sorority system.
“We think that our sorority sizes are getting pretty large and we’d like bring them down,” she said, adding that the new board will have to decide what action to take and how to prepare the campus.
This semester, Alpha Omicron Pi sorority went to “alumni status,” effectively leaving the sorority system. However, O’Neill said that this is unrelated to the need for adding a new house.
Ewing said that in the short term, one of the biggest challenges will be to get the best possible new member class. She feels that the current recruitment system works well in ensuring that the new members find the houses that suit them best.
“Almost everyone who comes through [recruitment] gets matched with chapters they are excited about,” Ewing said. “We have a lot of diversity in our chapters and most girls find chapters they fit into. There is a sorority for everyone.”
In her new role as executive VP, Aquilina hopes to implement a variety of initiatives with the Junior Panhellenic Council, an organization that prepares women to serve on the Panhel board.
“I have several new initiatives to develop the Junior Panhellenic council,” she said.
“This is truly a vital program — we can help to create better leaders on campus and simultaneously promote a more positive Panhellenic image … I can’t wait to work with the new members next semester to strengthen their leadership abilities and shape their ideas of what it means to be an outstanding Greek woman on campus.”
As for the outgoing board, O’Neill feels like they accomplished everything they set out to do.
“We had some very specific goals in terms of bringing sororities together,” she said. “We had a lot of sister-sister events so that people could form friendships across sororities and we had new committees to take inter-sorority leadership back to chapters.
O’Neill’s term ends in the middle of January, just as spring recruitment ends. However, she hopes to remain involved with some of the initiatives that began under her board, and stick around to help the new board get acclimated.
“Last year’s board was one of the best board ever,” Ewing said. “We worked really well and there was a good dynamic amongst us. Their support in transitioning to next board will be very helpful.”