Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You Don’t Need Another Greek Council

A year or so ago, I wrote about the most unfortunate outcome of many Greek community retreats:  the desire to have an All-Greek BBQ.  Another idea that emerges almost as often is just as unnecessary: the All-Greek Council.

“Hey everybody, let’s create an All-Greek Council!”

Now, if you are a member of a small Greek community and only have one governing council for all fraternities and sororities, then this doesn’t apply to you.  I’m speaking to the campuses that already have an IFC, Panhellenic, and/or NPHC and now want to establish an All-Greek Council or Board as well.

You don’t need it.

Developing an All-Greek Council is like baking a third pie simply because the crust on the other two was just a little too flaky. 

You have governing councils already.  They are just not getting the job done.  

You probably want an All-Greek Council so that you can communicate better between all the groups.  The current councils can and should do that.  Maybe you want an All-Greek Council to improve inter-fraternity or inter-sorority relations.  Your current councils can and should do that as well.  Worst of all, maybe you want an All-Greek Council so you can plan the next All-Greek BBQ.  Nobody should be doing that.

Let’s be honest – there are two reasons you really want an All-Greek Council.  First, fraternity and sorority members are joiners and we can’t get enough of groups.  We just can’t help ourselves sometimes; it’s way too much fun to dream up new organizations to belong to.  Secondly, it’s easier to build something from scratch rather than fix something that’s broken.  

Plus, we have an addiction to the idea that if we just bring everyone together, all problems will be solved.

Here’s the reality: if you have problems of poor communication and poor inter-group relations, the All-Greek Council is not the magic answer.  In fact, it will likely become as irrelevant in regards to those issues as the councils you already have.  But hey, at least you’ll have a new one to complain about!

Inter-Greek relations are not built by grandiose events, big meetings, or new organizations.  They are built by honesty and trust.  Besides, when we talk about poor relations, we’re really talking about fraternity-to-fraternity and sorority-to-sorority.  Your IFC, Panhellenic, and NPHC councils need to be the forums where honest conversations between the groups are had.  

Communication issues are really about our inability as leaders to have good conversations with each other.  Those need to happen outside the council meetings.  An All-Greek Council would become just another opportunity for a talking head to go through a series of announcements and fliers about upcoming events, or lectures about how we should all just get along.  We’ve got Facebook to do that for us now.    

Your IFC, Panhellenic, and/or NPHC should be the place where you discuss collective needs and chart your future together.  And there are good reasons to keep them as separate councils devoted to organizations that have lots in common with each other.  Men’s and Women’s Greek-letter organizations are unique enough in their structure and philosophies to keep them separate in how they are governed.  

If you want to still want to have those feel-good moments of bringing everyone together, then schedule joint meetings of the councils once a semester.  Rotate which council “leads” the meeting.  However, taking the time and energy to build a whole new organization is ignoring the purpose of the ones that are already there.

“Hey everybody, let’s create an All-Greek Council!” 

Nah, let's not.


2 comments:

  1. Therefore, on our campus, we have 4 Greek leaders but all of our other large students groups (SGA, RHA, Student Union, etc) all have one leader for their community. How does it not make sense to have an all-Greek Council and one Greek leader to go to bat for the community?

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  2. I completely agree that IFC, Panhellenic and/or NPHC should be doing many of the things that we expect from an all-Greek Council. But, what about institutions who have local Greek-lettered organizations whom do not align themselves with such governing organizations? My undergraduate institution had organizations who consistently undermined the values of Greek Life simply because they didn't have anyone holding them accountable to the values of the community at large.

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