Greek community reaches out to professors with food

Many greek organizations on campus host dinners with faculty and staff.

Neil Bendle hadn’t been exposed to much greek life before setting foot in the Pi Beta Phi house a few weeks ago.

“I’m English,” the graduate instructor in marketing said. “We don’t really have those sort of things there.”

The sorority is just one of the many greek organizations on campus that host regular dinners with faculty and instructional staff members.

Bendle said one of his students in the sorority invited him and “it was lovely” to meet the other women in the house and learn more about the organization and his student.

Lauren Haverly, a biology, society and environment sophomore in Pi Beta Phi, said she invited a teaching assistant from her calculus class to the dinner.

“I think there’s always going to be that perception,” she said of the stereotypes sometimes associated with greek life. “Especially if they’re not from this country and they hear about ‘Animal House’ or something.”

Haverly said she felt like Drew Ichikawa, her calculus T.A., had gone out of his way throughout the semester to make sure his students understood the course materials.

“He was just blown back,” Haverly said of Ichikawa’s initial reaction to the house.

Ichikawa said he was most surprised at how formal the conduct was inside the house. He said the women were wearing dresses and skirts and waited to sit down until everyone had come to the table.

Brita Lundgren, president of Pi Beta Phi, said the dinner was to honor professors and instructors the women in the sorority felt did an outstanding job throughout the year, and also to recognize the women who had achieved a certain GPA.

Lundgren said the recognition was the main goal of the evening, but she thought the professors were able to learn more about their sorority and the greek system.

“I don’t know if some of them had been exposed to an organization like this in the past,” Lundgren said.

Jenni Dubman, vice president of communications for Pi Beta Phi, organized the faculty dinner at the sorority.

She said she invited a communications professor with whom she had developed a close relationship in class.

“I learned a lot more than just speaking in that class,” Dubman said. “I thought she needed to be recognized for everything that she did for me.”

Chad Ellsworth, coordinator for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said the faculty dinners aren’t an official program sponsored by his office, but he knows many of the greek houses host them.

The chapters recognize that the dinners are a “good way to build relationships with the faculty outside the classroom,” he said.

Ellsworth said another way his office encourages the students to interact with faculty and staff is through the faculty and staff advising program.

“It gives them an opportunity to connect with somebody in a meaningful way,” he said.

Avi Sethi, president of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, said his house hosts professor dinners about twice a year.

Sethi said he invited a professor once, who later said he used to walk past the Beta house and wonder what went on inside.

The professor had believed the stereotypes from the media and films about fraternity life, Sethi said, and was surprised when he actually came to the house.

“They realize, these aren’t bad people,” he said. “Not only are they doing well in class Ö outside of class they’re doing just as well.”

Emma Carew is a senior staff reporter.