University, greeks commit to improve community, adhere to academic standards

Neil Munshi

University officials and the greek community recently signed and released a formal partnership statement.

The partnership will focus on academics, student development, leadership, community service and housing, according to a University press release.

Greek students will adhere to certain standards, such as high academic standing, diverse membership, active community service, engaged University leadership and intolerance for hazing, the press release stated.

“We wanted something formal that would announce that the University thinks that the greek system has a good deal to offer to our students,” said Jerry Rinehart, associate vice provost for student affairs. “(It) would

allow the greeks to feel like an important part of the University itself.”

He said that while the agreement is not legally binding, it is symbolic of a commitment from both sides to further develop the vitality of the greek system.

The greek community has done a lot of good philanthropic work, some of which has gone unnoticed, Rinehart said.

The partnership is meant to give greater visibility to the system and hopefully help with recruitment, he said.

“I think what’s important is that the greek system is not really just another set of student organizations or activities,” he said.

During the last 130 years, Rinehart said, the greek community has done good things and turned out good alumni. He said their contributions make greeks special.

Abby Weinandt, president of the Panhellenic Council, said the greek community was very excited about the partnership.

“We evaluated our community and how we can collaborate with the University and add to the University’s role,” she said. “We basically came up with a set of guidelines and mutual considerations Ö that really illustrate the desire to work together as a group.”

She said the greek community has been actively pursuing many of the expectations set forth by the statement, but putting it in formal writing gives it even more incentive to fulfill its obligations.

Because many campuses across the country are working toward similar compromises, Weinandt said, the University’s agreement is being used as a national model.

Kara Fresk, a University employee who acted as a sorority alumnae representative in the creation of the statement, said that the idea of a partnership has been floating around for the last 20 years.

She said the current administration was more receptive than some in the past to heal a perceived rift between the greek community and the University.

Rinehart said a vital and active greek community is important to some students when choosing a college. So, projecting a strong greek system here could attract more students, he said.

Brian Brothman, president of the Interfraternity Council, said the University will facilitate the distribution of mailers and other information to help the greek community reach prospective students.

He said he is unsure whether the University will provide faculty or staff advisers to the chapters. The partnership is intentionally vague, he said, to keep the relationship flexible.

“It doesn’t automatically guarantee us certain things,” Brothman said. “It’s just more guidelines or rules that we have to follow as a community and things that the University will help us out with.”

University President Bob Bruininks, Rinehart, Weinandt, Brothman and members of the Greek Action Council signed the statement.