Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ball State Looks to Expand Greek System

BSU's Greek system adopts strategic plan
The document aims to revitalize Greek life on campus.
By GAIL KOCH gkoch@muncie.gannett.com Post Comment

MUNCIE -- In the years to come, major changes could be in store for Ball State University's Greek system -- including the possibility of sorority houses on campus and the addition of hundreds of members to its fraternities and sororities.

Those ideas and more are touched on in a new, five-year Greek strategic plan introduced to university officials this spring. Ball State President Jo Ann Gora calls the plan "excellent," noting it could "create a much stronger, better Greek community at Ball State."

The 12-page document outlines eight major goals to be addressed by Ball State's Greek community over the next few years. Key objectives include establishing academic standards for local chapters, strengthening ties with alumni and national chapters and boosting membership of the Greek community to 2,060 members by 2016.

In fall 2006, Ball State's total Greek membership was 1,179 students -- 447 in fraternities; 772 in sororities. About eight percent of Ball State's undergraduates are Greek.

'What's been missing'
University leaders say the strategic plan is the outcome of hours of planning and feedback that followed a 2005 visit by an outside consultant who assessed Ball State's Greek system. His recommendations were used to develop the new strategic plan, campus leaders said.

Cara Luyster, assistant director of student life, said the plan contains "pretty lofty goals."

To work toward meeting them, eight different implementation teams have been created, and some already have met with others planning to do so this summer or early fall, Luyster explained.

Jamie Manuel, a member of Phi Gamma Delta (commonly recognized as FIJI), was a member of this year's Greek strategic planning committee. Manuel said a strategic plan is what's been missing from Ball State's Greek system, one that has lost five IFC fraternities since 2002.

Last spring, Ball State announced it will welcome three new fraternities to campus, beginning with the colonization of Delta Sigma Phi this spring. Within six years, the university also will recolonize two fraternities, Lambda Chi Alpha and Alpha Tau Omega, that lost their recognition in recent years.

"I think a strategic plan like the one that's been created is essential for any organization that wants to move forward," Manuel said.

Sorority houses on horizon
In discussing goals for the strategic plan, Lynda Wiley, assistant dean for student affairs and director of student life, said the idea of sorority housing on campus was pitched for the first time during a meeting in mid-April.

Currently, Ball State's 11 panhellenic sorority chapters conduct their meetings in suites designated for them in the Woodworth and DeHority residence halls.

Deanna Pogorelc, a member of Phi Mu and president of the PanHellenic Council, said those suites have gotten cramped over the years.

"They're the size of study lounges and when you've got some sororities on campus with 80 members, it's nearly impossible to fit everyone in there," she said.

Wiley said response has been overwhelmingly positive to the idea of sorority housing and possibly, over time, the creation of a Greek village near campus.

The reason sorority housing has not been established on Ball State's campus before is because of a pact made years ago among the chapters, she explained.

"If all of the sororities could not have houses, then none would," Wiley said.

Pogorelc said adding sorority houses to Ball State's Greek system could be a real selling point for recruits. "People ask us now why we don't have them and anymore, we don't have a real answer to that," she said. "I think the idea definitely would be a great way to get more people interested in Greek life at Ball State."