Incoming Greek life presidents discuss goals, initiatives

The new presidents, Jill Yazejian and Gerry Weber, take office next semester.

Sorority Panhellenic Council President Jill Yazejian poses for a portrait at the Purple Onion on Tuesday, Nov 20 in Dinkytown.

Jerusa Nyakundi

Sorority Panhellenic Council President Jill Yazejian poses for a portrait at the Purple Onion on Tuesday, Nov 20 in Dinkytown.

Jordan Willauer

The Minnesota Daily sat down with the recently-elected presidents of the Panhellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council before they take office next semester. 

Incoming Panhellenic Council President Jill Yazejian is a business and marketing education, and strategic communication junior and member of Pi Beta Phi.

MN Daily: What are some initiatives you’re hoping to push for?

Yazejian: I think something that’s really important is cross-council unity [between Greek councils]. … I have never hung out or had a conversation with someone who is not Panhellenic or Interfraternity Council, and I really want to know people in [other Greek councils]. … I want to encourage the desire for that, learning about people in other councils. 

Another thing I want to do is get really close with the school’s administration and have them know what we’re doing and have a really open line of communication. … In the PHC as itself, I really want to create more bonding and more trust among PHC chapters.

MN Daily: I want to talk about the hard alcohol ban. As I understand it, sorority houses are dry. Do you believe there is still is a role that sororities need to, or should play in the conversation of alcohol on campus and in Greek life?

Yazejian: Absolutely, every chapter’s bylaws state that when a Panhellenic woman is on a fraternity property, we abide by their bylaws. … It’s important to all be on the same page and put up a united front … as opposed to sneaking things or trying to undermine the ban.

MN Daily: What is one thing about Greek Life that could be improved and what is one thing that you’re proud of?

Yazejian: I love the level of community we have, the opportunities it provides for people — I can’t tell you how many people I know got jobs and internships through the Greek community. … Something I think could be changed is the level at which we interact among chapters and in councils. There’s a very strong sense of chapter unity, and that’s great … but I think that needs to be expanded throughout the community through every single council.

Incoming Interfraternity Council President Gerry Weber is a mechanical engineering junior and president of Tau Kappa Epsilon.

MN Daily: Why did you want to become president?

Weber: Really, I see that this is kind of a pivotal year, as President Kaler is retiring this upcoming year and we’ve seen across the nation, a bunch of big schools are starting to look at Greek life more negatively. … I think that I have what it takes to pretty much kind of switch the image of how Greek life is seen. I think that going forward, this is going to be that year … where things can get turned around before a new [University] president comes in and new rules are established.

MN Daily: Are there any new initiatives for Greek Life, or something that you’re hoping to push as president?

Weber: I ran on a platform of three main ideas as how Greek life can change: … recruitment, community image and the fraternity image. … Recruitment numbers have been dropping, and part of the reason is I do not think enough has been done for recruitment. … Looking at the community image, it’s trying to realize how … the community view[s] us. 

We did an event at Northrop, a sexual assault workshop presentation. That went a really long way … I want to do more of those, but not center them around just sexual assault. … I also think there are a lot of other issues that impact our community and other communities; a big one is mental health. Just doing another one on over-consumption in the fall, doing a workshop on that … inviting the greater campus to come out.

MN Daily: Talking about the alcohol ban, we’ve had two fraternity deaths in the past year and a national alcohol ban you’ve just inherited. How are you planning on overseeing that and being aware of the ban?

Weber: When you look at it, it was a necessary item that needed to happen. The great organizations don’t stay great if they don’t change with the times, and this is a huge step in the right direction. … And now we need to take this time to figure out what are the best ways we can implement this. … I think that it’s going to be difficult. My executive vice president and myself are going to try go through and find as many best practices as we can over winter break and try to test each one.

MN Daily: What is one thing about Greek Life that you think could be improved, and one thing you’re proud of?

Weber: I really love that feeling, being a part of the 1,800 fraternity men on campus in IFC. … The thing I think that can be most improved is how we are seen. … It’s going through and figuring out why are we Greek here, what does that look like?