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CSU Greek Life facing major changes next school year: Local organizations' functioning will be out of their control, students feel

Sept. 27, 2012

By Sarah Shannon

Cleveland State University Greek Life will have a new look to it by next fall.

Some of the changes will be evident by next semester.

As of now, Willie Banks, Associate Dean of Students, is the adviser for Greek Life until the new Assistant Dean of Students for Student Engagement is hired.

The goals set for Greek Life are to bring more national organizations to campus and to meet standards set nationally and locally.

Next year, Greek Council will have a different set up. Interfraternity Council (IFC), National Panhellenic Council (NPC), and National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) will make up the council. IFC will represent the national fraternities on campus, NPC the national sororities, and NPHC the “Divine 9” sororities and fraternities.

This excludes local Greek organizations.

“In order to raise the bar,” Dr. James Drnek, Dean of Students, said, “this structure is required.”

Cleveland State has seven fraternities represented on campus, one being locally founded, and eight sororities represented, four being locally founded. In fact, Chi Delta Epsilon, a locally founded sorority, recently celebrated their 10th year of sisterhood.

These five Greek organizations have the option of taking their group national – once interest in Cleveland State is expressed by national organizations.

In the past, there have been eight inquires of bringing different national sororities and fraternities to CSU. All eight inquires were denied.

Where will this leave local groups? Organization will have the option of becoming a nationally recognized Greek organization.

Becoming national is a lengthy procedure. It will not be instantaneous.

National Greek organizations are based upon traditions and typically located on traditional campus – unlike CSU, that is still a non-traditional campus.

The Department of Student life has an optimistic view.

“We have the right staff, confirmation with student affairs, and confirmation from the president,” Drnek said.

For the past two years, Cleveland Sate has experienced the largest entering freshman classes in its history. The university’s retention rate is increasing as well.

Both factors national Greek organizations look at.

Dean Banks will be attending an AFA (Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors) conference this semester to speak to national representatives and others about Greek Life at CSU.

Drnek said that they are looking at the structure of similar schools, most in the Urban 13, and how their Greek Life is set up – many contain national fraternities and sororities.

“We want to know what the students think,” Drnek said.

He wants the input of the current local Greek organizations on what national organizations interest them, if any, or if the desire to go national is shared by all the local organizations.

At first, all local Greek organizations will be considered “special interest groups” until they go national. The groups that choose not to go national may not be considered and recognized as a Greek organization at CSU. They would still be a student organization. That is something still in discussion.

“We make such a big difference on campus,” Emily Rybarczyk, member of Chi Delta Epsilon sorority, said. “Last year at Relay for Life, the biggest representation was from Greek Life – especially local orgs.”

Rybarczyk went on to say that the committee consisted of three members of Chi Delta Epsilon, one being the head of the entire event – Chelsea Butts. Local sorority Delta Omega Phi was the organization that raised the most money for the American Cancer Society.

Last year, local sororities did more than 3000 hours of community service. Two local sororities were actually contenders for the CSU Service Award last year – Chi Delta Epsilon and Chi Lambda Omega.

Gamma Delta, another local sorority, just recently volunteered at a golf outing that raised money for their philanthropy – Smiles for Sophie Forever.

“This organization helps families who children suffer from brain tumors,” Carli Parsons, member of Gamma Delta, explained. “They provide financial support for the families as well as St. Jude’s.”

Chi Lambda Omega, last year, raised over $2000 for their philanthropy Nika Water – an organization that provides clean water for those in need over seas and stateside. As well, Chi Delta Epsilon raised more than $2000 towards breast cancer awareness last year.

“Our presence is known on campus,” said Diane Furlong, member of Delta Omega Phi sorority.

She went on to explain how the local Greek organizations, as well as the national organizations, participate in many campus events like the Chili Cook-Off, Bar Uno’s Pizza Contest, and the service days held on campus like Do-Gooder Day.

More changes will occur once the new Assistant Dean is hired.