Sororities elect Panhellenic board amid controversy

In an emergency meeting Monday night, the Panhellenic Association untangled a snare that delayed the election of next year’s executive board by a few weeks.

Junior Fiona Conroy of Phi Sigma Sigma will head the board, which serves as the governing body for campus sororities, next year with six other executive members.

Each year a slating committee, composed of one experienced member of each of the eight sororities, convenes in a closed meeting to nominate seven Panhellenic executive board members for the next year based on interviews of women interested in running for positions. The slate is then proposed to the eight Panhellenic delegates, one from each sorority, who vote for approval. For the first time in GW sorority history, the delegates rejected the original slate.

Sophomore Dana Rasmussen of Alpha Phi was the presidential candidate with Conroy as vice president of marketing and public relations on the original slate. Zara Dang of Alpha Phi will now fill the VPMPR position.

“I think there were concerns about equal representation and the age and qualifications of every position, whether or not they were best suited for that position,” said current Panhel president and a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority, Lisa Taylor, who is in charge of overseeing the slating committee.

“The slate really works as a whole, so the working relationships of the officers (was an issue),” Taylor said.

Another individual closely involved with Panhel who asked not to be identified agreed the “working relationships” between the board members prompted the criticisms of the original slate.

To ensure that one sorority does not control the executive board, the Panhel constitution allows no more than two members of one sorority to run on the slate, and dictate that the president and vice president of recruitment cannot come from the same sorority.

No explicit rules exist about year to year representation on the board, but Conroy said sorority members try to mix up the organizations that have leadership roles in Panhel.

“It is sort of an unspoken rule to try to get as many chapters represented at one time as possible,” she said.

Although Conroy was not president on the original slate, Taylor said she was satisfied with the way it turned out.

“(Conroy) is a very capable candidate and will do well,” Taylor said. “I wouldn’t say that she wasn’t my first choice.”

Taylor said she could not comment on specific disagreements that occurred within the original slate. Taylor said she does not believe the Panhel delegates rejected the original slate as a personal blow to her authority, nor because of a problem that arose from animosity among sorority members.

“I think that the slate rejection was something inevitable with the number of candidates,” Taylor said. “And also, while people send one candidate to the slating committee, it’s not necessarily representative of your entire sorority. It’s difficult to get a solid slate, especially with this many people running for positions.”

Eleven candidates ran for seven positions, some expressing interest in more than one spot on the board. In the past, ties and disagreements rarely arose because candidates ran unopposed or against only one other person.

“In the past people were very specific about what they were running for,” Conroy said.

The Panhel constitution lists no set procedures in the event that a slate is rejected, forcing the slating committee to recreate an executive board that would be approved. Current executives passed an amendment to establish a procedure to handle this situation in the future.

Now that the controversy is resolved, both Laura Taddeuci Downs, director of the Student Activities Center, and Taylor said they do not believe this will permanently blemish the credibility of the Panhellenic Association.

Downs said it is good Panhel will be prepared in the event a slate is not approved in the future.

“I’m sure all of us are relieved that this is over,” Conroy said. “I’m honored to work with the amazing group of leaders that have been elected. We, as a group, look forward to working with the current board to have a smooth transition into next year.”

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