BU Today

Campus Life

Greeks seek better image

Leadership conference tackles tough issues

Last weekend, the best representatives of Greek life at Boston University gathered to tackle some of the worst issues their organizations face.

At the University’s first Greek Leadership Conference, held at the Sargent Activities Center on Saturday, February 25, the newly elected officers of BU’s 18 fraternities and sororities discussed legal issues and ethics, event-planning and motivational tools, and what Greek groups can do to improve their image on campus.

The conference — which featured speakers from the Community Service Center, the Office of the Dean of Students, and the Student Activities Office — was the first of its kind at BU, reflecting the Greek system’s ongoing effort to improve relations with the University. Since Dana Marcinek, SAO program coordinator for fraternities and sororities, was hired last year, the Greek organizations on campus have been working hard to gain the trust of University administrators.

“There has been better communication,” Marcinek says. “The fraternity and sorority presidents have met several times with Dean [of Students Kenneth] Elmore, and I think we’re on the right track.”

At BU, the conflict stems from the Greeks’ ambiguous status as student groups; the University recognizes them as student activities organizations, but does not offer them equal funding because of their selective recruitment and pledging process — a policy, some members say, that limits their ability to hold events and recruit new members. In addition, the University does not allow the groups to have official houses, which students often view as another deterrent to building their organizations.

The relationship between the administration and the Greek groups was further complicated last fall when the dean of students decided to stop chartering new chapters on campus in an effort to build unity among the current organizations. Nevertheless, Elmore did throw his support behind a long-established Greek tradition — painting the rock next to the BU Bridge with Greek letters — by offering a $500 prize to the group that could keep its letters on the rock all weekend.

The conference, participants say, is another way for the University and the Greek organizations to work together to improve their relationship.

“I think this is a very good step in the right direction, for the administration and the community,” says Ashley Mateo (COM’08), a member of Alpha Delta Pi. “There has been a lot of back and forth in the past, and we want to make [Greek life] a viable community.”