Greeks meet potential directors

The U greek community takes its next steps in choosing a director.

by Amelia Kaderabek

University of Minnesota greek community members got a chance to engage the final four candidates vying for a chance to represent them in a series of forums last week.

The person selected as the new Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life director will become the official liaison between the greeks and the University, starting the position in January 2012 or earlier. The position includes advising roughly 2,000 greek students.

The candidates, introduced separately during individualized forums, include Lindsay Faulstick from Roanoke College in Virginia, Daniel Miller from Northwestern University, Melissa Wolter from East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, and Matthew Levine from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Communication within the community, risk management issues and multicultural chapter inclusion were consistent themes during the forums. Each candidate also stressed the communityâÄôs ongoing growth as a priority.

The UniversityâÄôs greek community is the smallest in the Big Ten, and many of the questions directed at the candidates were about recruitment strategies. But among the them, only Miller comes from a school where the number of greek students is in the thousands.

âÄúGreek life numbers have been going up and up. The biggest thing [for the new director] is taking on a greek community that is growing,âÄù said Tom Bymark, the chapter president of Sigma Nu.

Bymark said he thinks the UniversityâÄôs greek community needs somebody who isnâÄôt looking to change things but improve on them instead.

One of the biggest challenges for the new programs director will be getting to know the greek culture on the University campus, said Amelious Whyte, the chief of staff in the Office of Student Affairs who acted as the interim directorthis semester.

âÄúThere is a learning curve, and we are a large campus,âÄù Whyte said

Faulstick said she thinks the greek community needs someone it can trust to advocate for the chapters and councils at the University. She said she is a very strong advocate for self-governance in greek life.

âÄúThatâÄôs really a huge platform of mine âÄìâÄì that we always should be thinking about the values our organizations have and how our actions are reflecting those values.âÄù

The UniversityâÄôs Multicultural Greek Council, which officially formed last spring, was one of the attractions for Miller, reflecting some of his work at Northwestern.

âÄúThat is actually the reason I got into the field, I am a huge advocate for underrepresented populations at predominantly white institutions,âÄù Miller said.

Both Wolter and Levine stressed their desire to have an open relationship with all greek students.

âÄúItâÄôs important that I make connections with students on a regular basis,âÄù Wolter said.

Chad Ellsworth, the former programs director in the OFSL who held the position for about seven years, said the new director should have both a fresh perspective and an open mind.

Ellsworth said his biggest piece of advice for the new director is to find the common ground between all the stakeholders in the greek community because the end goal is the same across the board.

âÄúEverybody wants to see the community be successful,âÄù Ellsworth said.