Cornell’s Interfraternity Council elected a new board on Thursday evening filled with candidates who said they want to continue what they said is IFC’s commitment to diversity in addressing challenges facing the organization’s future.
Paul Russell ’19, a brother in Delta Chi and a columnist for The Sun, was elected IFC’s new president. He and the other elected members will officially assume their roles at the beginning of next semester.
Russell will be joined on the board by Luke Bianco ’19 of Phi Kappa Tau, voted to serve as the executive vice president; Ryan Musto ’20, a brother in Sigma Phi, who will become the vice president for judicial affairs; and Lambda Chi Alpha brother Max Wulff ’19, who was elected vice president of recruitment. Tyler Henry ’20, a brother in Delta Chi, was elected vice president for citizenship, diversity and inclusion.
The board was elected by 35 presidents of Greek chapters at Cornell.
Drew Lord ’18, the outgoing IFC President, told The Sun he has worked closely with both Russell and Bianco and was happy with the results.
“If there’s any two people leading the Greek community, it should be these two,” he said. “They are phenomenal. I think everyone at Cornell should feel extremely confident with the new leadership and I couldn’t be more happy about it.”
Russell is currently vice president for recruitment and Bianco is vice president for university and community relations.
Russell said he will have to work closely with the administration and other students regarding the future of Greek life on this campus.
“I think it’s really powerful if we have someone in that position who has experience, who has a history of advocating for the Greek community, and also someone who is a person of color and who can relate with a lot of the qualms that people have with Greek life currently on this campus,” said Russell, who is black.
Russell said he has three priorities: reforming the president’s council to make it more collaborative and policy-oriented, making practical changes regarding diversity and inclusion in each of the individual chapters and increasing transparency about judicial hearings.
“It’s one thing for some big thing to happen and we sit and write a bunch of emails about how we care so much about your community,” he said, “but if we’re already there and [students] already know us, I think that’s really important.
What I want to do is just establish that as an expectation” for the board, he said.
Caitlin Gleason ’18, the current president of the Panhellenic Council, spoke in support of Russell, saying she believes he embodies the resilience and passion necessary in the IFC president.
Bianco, who had run against Russell for president, said he wanted to establish a “sustainable future” for Greek Life by advocating for the merit of the Greek system while also addressing its flaws.
“We are at a time for choosing,” he said. “We can continue to weather the blows of bias and sexual violence within our community until there is too much damage to control, or we can take preventative steps to move forward as a council and ensure a sustainable future for the IFC.”
Musto said he wants to strengthen the IFC’s relationship with emergency services, edit the bylines and update the constitution, which he said has not been updated since 2011.
Wulff, who will be the vice president for recruitment, said he wants to begin a weekly newsletter, increasing outreach efforts to subsets of the Cornell community, from which the IFC does not traditionally draw.
“WIth the recent bias incidents, it is more imperative than ever for the IFC to show its true commitment to diversity on campus,” he said. “Commitment to diversity will encourage more individuals from a wider range of groups to consider joining a house.”
Henry, elected vice president for citizenship, diversity and inclusion, said that after a student said he was assaulted by a possible underground member of Psi Upsilon, Henry helped establish a diversity and inclusion committee, which he said worked closely with Black Students United.
He wants to install diversity and inclusion committees for each chapter, which would meet monthly. Traciann Celestin ’19, a co-chair of BSU and a member of Delta Sigma Theta, endorsed Henry for the position.
Lord said he was proud of his time as president and said IFC has come a long way.
“It’s been, definitely, a tumultuous year, I’d say, and a lot of the changes we have started to make were proactive, like before all of these situations happened,” he said. “Unfortunately, they did happen, and it forced us to streamline a lot of that work.”
“We have the eight-page Tri-Council Diversity and Inclusion Plan, which I think is probably going to be our biggest legacy because … most of the work that will be carried out in the next year will be on that plan,” he said.
Russell told The Sun that while addressing diversity and inclusion will be tricky, it is something that the IFC must work on.
He said Greek life, can “be something beneficial if its leveraged correctly, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”