The Student Life Committee (SLC) held its annual conversation with members of the Greek community, or “Greek forum,” during its regular meeting Tuesday, with a discussion geared toward inter-Greek relations and public relations.
Professor of Theatre and SLC chair Elizabeth Carlin-Metz prompted the conversation by explaining the committee’s role in the context of shared governance (by faculty and students) and oversight of all matters related to campus life.
“I am hopeful … that we can have a conversation about what would actually be effective in terms of creating a useful relationship between the Student Life Committee and the Greek community,” Carlin-Metz said.
She also talked about the reports recently submitted by each Greek organization to their nationals and to SLC and how they can serve as a jumping off point for the flow of information between the Greek community and the faculty.
“My goal in establishing that is to ensure that this committee is a two-way street, that we are a conduit with both ends open, so that the Greek community understands that we are a resource,” Carlin-Metz said, “as well as [to ensure that] the faculty understands that this committee is also a means by which they can learn more about the Greek community.”
Much of the conversation concerned Greek image and “Greek public relations,” so to speak. Interfraternity Council (IFC) Secretary senior Brandon Paraharm mentioned that the Greek community should work on easing feelings of “unapproachability” with respect to Greek-affiliated students.
“For me, especially living with three roommates that are not Greek-affiliated … I think the non-Greeks talk about Greek life on campus more than the Greeks do,” Paraharm said. “I think that’s something we probably do want to channel [through SLC] … and be more conscious about.”
IFC President senior John Cusimano talked about a general misunderstanding of the role Greek affiliation plays into a student’s overall experience at Knox as a possible priority for the committee.
“I think there exists a misunderstanding among faculty members about how Greek life factors into a lot of students’ experiences,” Cusimano said, “as well as a misunderstanding of the way some students perceive what it means to be Greek.”
Carlin-Metz mentioned the mythology created by the media about Greek life at colleges—and how that relates to academics and GPAs—and how that is something that the Greek community at Knox needs to overcome.
“How are you getting those GPAs up there? What is it you do? Here’s what the Animal House response is to that: We steal the exams from three years ago, and then we privately share them in the basement,” Carlin-Metz said. “That’s the myth you have to overcome because that’s the myth that Hollywood’s putting out.”
Dean of Student Debbie Southern stressed the importance of going about overcoming this myth in a proactive way, instead of a reactive way. She said the Greek community needs to come up with a list of “what it means to be Greek” and dispersing that information.
Professor of Biology and SLC member Stuart Allison offered his PR advice to the Greek representatives at the forum.
“Make sure that the story that is out there is a positive one,” Allison said. “Unfortunately, and this is especially truthful for the fraternities, you guys are under a microscope, and you need to recognize that. Every year at least one fraternity is on some sort of probation. And every time that happens, it has a negative effect on the perception of all the fraternities on campus …
“I know it’s unfair that in many ways you are judged that particular standard, but you need to make sure that you don’t have a fraternity on probation every year. That alone would be a big step forward if you guys really kept things clean,” Allison said.
SLC meets every Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Borzello Hall 116. Its meetings are open to the public.