Thursday, June 05, 2008

U of Washington Creates New Greek Office

Greek community to have new UW-endorsed office
By Sara Bruestle June 4, 2008

A new UW office could officially link the University and the University’s independent Greek community. Members of the UW administration and the Greek community are working to form a new University-endorsed office by blending several existing Greek offices together.

Currently, the Office of Greek Relations works collaboratively with the Greek community to advocate fraternity and sorority programs, and the InterFraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Association have their own advising offices working independently of the UW.
The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life would merge all of these offices. Funding for the office will be pooled from both the UW and Greek community resources.

“The entire community is excited because this is really the first time in over 20 years that the Greek community is being affiliated with the UW instead of a student organization,” said Cartter Berg, IFC president. “It shows that the University has a great interest in undergraduate involvement and undergraduate experience at UW.”

Panhellenic President Dolly Nguyen said the new Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life will foster stronger programming and communication between the University and the Greek community.
“Communication has always been a struggle between the University and Greek life, because Greek life is extremely self-governed,” she said. “The new office will ... allow us to expand our programming and expand our ability to reach out to new students. And then on the University side, I think that will allow them to reach out to the Greek life.”

Berg said there’s some apprehension in the Greek community about having a University-endorsed office. “People are being wary of UW involvement because it hasn’t happened in a long time,” Berg said. “They’re afraid of greater control over the community. But we’re taking precautions to stay an independent and self-governing body.”

The new office will provide the Greek community with additional professional networking resources and support, said Lincoln Johnson, assistant vice provost for student life and overseer of Greek relations.

“I think, professionally, for the people that are going to be in that role, it will certainly serve them well to be connected to the University, because they’ll be able to connect more strongly and more directly with the staff in the Student Activities Office and the other resources on campus all the way from the Regional Affairs to the Carlson Center,” he said.

A selection committee made up of several organizations within the Greek community is interviewing candidates for a new director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life position and will make a recommendation to Johnson and Eric Godfrey, the vice provost for student life.
Johnson estimates the new office will have a director by this summer.

“In this position, [the director] will be able to create a greater respect and support for the fraternities and sororities at the UW and work to be on par with the sororities and fraternities around the nation,” Berg said. “Our goal is for our fraternities and sororities to be the best nationally in their organizations.”

Nguyen said that, overall, both the UW administration and the Greek community are enthusiastic about the new office.

“It’s a journey that we’re just thrilled to take,” she said. “We just need to get that director in place, and then from there see where we go, and start to identify what kind of direction the University and the Greek community [are] going to take together.”