April 27, 2009

Annual Awards Recognize Greeks

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Positive Greek publicity was the focus and the outcome of yesterday’s 22nd annual Greek Awards ceremony, an event designed to recognize outstanding individuals and chapters in the Greek system for excellence in leadership and service.
17 awards and scholarships were presented at the ceremonies in the Willard Straight Hall memorial gallery, where representatives of many chapters on campus gathered in business attire on an unseasonably warm Ithaca afternoon.
Susan Murphy ’73, vice president of student and academic services, delivered a keynote speech.
“We often decry with frustration what hits the headlines [about the Greek system],” Murphy said.
She cited the frequency of negative headlines about hazing incidents, property destruction and declines in academic performance with regards to the Greek system.
“Headlines are usually about the unusual, and I think it’s fair to say these events are unusual,” she said. “Unfortunately, for those who aren’t members of our organizations, that’s all they ever hear about us.”
Scholarship, service, philanthropy, brotherhood and sisterhood are the founding values of Cornell’s Greek organizations, according to Murphy.
“That’s what I’d challenge us to have as our headlines, not the hazing violations or the alcohol overconsumption, and not the property destruction,” she said.
Tri-Council executive vice presidents — Allen Miller ’11 of the Interfraternity Council, Stefanie Aquilina ’10 of the Panhellenic Council and Olamide Williams ’10 of the Multicultural Greek Letter Council — spearheaded the event.
“My counterparts and I had been planning this event since just about the end of February,” Aquilina stated in an email.
“Though I’ll admit I never counted, we received a couple hundred award nominations, including chapter award nominations,” Aquilina stated. “I’d guess that we received between 50 and 100 individual nominations. The winners are chosen through a selection committee comprised of Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs staff and assistant deans, as well as members of the Tri-Council.”
According to Aquilina, individual awards were given based on written statements about the nominees. Awards were presented to chapters on the basis of their End of Year Reports.
Aquilina and Miller noted the importance of Greek Awards to the way Greek organizations are perceived on campus.
“We serve as an excellent example for other Greek systems across the country,” Miller said.
“I think this is a wonderful event, as it highlights the leaders of our organizations who are making positive contributions to the Greek community,” Aquilina stated. “All too often the Greek system attracts poor press due to the irresponsibility of a few disillusioned members. Events like this are important in motivating our chapter leaders to strive for change and the betterment of our community.”
“Furthermore, placing IFC, Panhellenic and MGLC leaders in one room fosters a sense of Greek community, which sometimes can go amiss,” she added.
Cornell has the third largest Greek system in the United States, with 71 organizations on campus.
“Think about what we can do on this campus,” Murphy said. “When you look around the room, we are of all different values and ethnicities … We are all brothers and sisters, and can’t we be leaders at Cornell in that way?”
Aquilina cited the influence the Greek system has on both the Cornell and Ithaca communities.
“By sheer numbers alone, the Greek system can and does have a huge positive impact on our campus and the greater Ithaca community through service and philanthropy,” she stated.
According to Aquilina, “There is really quite a bit of community service effort, leadership and scholarship that goes under the radar.”
Yesterday’s Greek Awards were one way in which the accomplishments of Greek organizations and their members were acknowledged.