March 4, 2014

Students: Greek Academy Promotes ‘Confidence’

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After its first semester being offered for academic credit, students that have taken Cornell’s Greek Leadership Academy — a class for students involved in Greek life to collaborate and improve leadership skills — say it provides a unique way to interact with other Greek organizations on campus.

According to Amy Kohut, director of the Cornell Team and Leadership Center, the program was able to secure official course standing with the help of Prof. Marcia Eames-Sheavly, horticulture. Starting last semester, the course was offered as ALS 4940, a placeholder course number for trial or temporary courses.

“We offered PE credit in the first two years of the program but felt the content was rigorous enough to deserve the [academic] credit [this year],” Kohut said.

The time commitment is equivalent to one academic credit, or five weeks of weekly three-hour sessions in the first semester. In addition to these weekly meetings, Kohut said.

Kohut added that students participate in “individual leadership coaching sessions” in the second semester. Each student also writes a final paper of reflection.

Each class session follows a theme, Kohut said. These themes cover organizational development and self-development, “circles of influence” and community building.

In fall 2013, 58 students participated from 27 chapters — 16 chapters from the Interfraternity Council, 10 from the Panhellenic Council and one from the Multicultural Greek Letter Council — according to Kohut. Eighty percent of Cornell sororities and 66 percent of fraternities have participated over the past three years Kohut said.

“We ideally want at least two people from each chapter,” Kohut said. “We had a number of chapters this year who sent three people, and one chapter sent six people.”

Students that have participated say the Greek Leadership Academy has been an enjoyable opportunity.

Jillian Knowles ’15, president of the Alpha Phi sorority, said she chose to enroll in the program because she wanted to develop a “fun” new member program for her sorority.

“[Having] our members participate in this course was very important to us,” Knowles said. “It is a great chance for them to bond and gain trust during the early stages of becoming an Alpha Phi.”

Knowles said the class gave leaders in the Greek community a chance to come together to discuss challenges in the Greek system. She said the program helped demonstrate how leaders could help “develop a strong group of brothers and sisters.”

“I enjoyed this class greatly,” Knowles said. “I left with the confidence and courage to lead a chapter of 200 young women through Cornell’s unique Greek System.”

Connor Riser ’16, philanthropy chair of Sigma Pi and vice president of Programming for the Interfraternity Council, echoed these sentiments, adding that the Academy helped introduce him to the larger Greek Community on campus.

“Sometimes people get caught up in their own chapters, but this class allows people to work with those not only in other chapters, but also across other councils,” Riser said.