Panhellenic Association executive board plays up its inexperience

Media Credit: Kiana Robertson | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Becca Connolly, the new president of the Panhellenic Association, said that because every member of the group's executive board is new this semester, they will be able to make decisions with a fresh perspective.

The new Panhellenic Association executive board says inexperience is an advantage.

The eight-member board consists only of members that have never been part of the Panhellenic Association before, which its leader says will help them see outdated procedures and stale recruitment events with fresh pairs of eyes.

Rebecca Connolly said in an interview last week that the new board’s inexperience will allow it to examine procedures like recruitment, which starts this week, and to start new programming without feeling constrained by former boards’ practices.

“Everyone on my board, including myself, is totally new to Panhellenic, so I think it puts us in a really neat position to think about why we’re doing things, and not just think, ‘Oh, this is how it’s done every year,’” she said. “We’re excited to have these meaningful conversations and make sure Greek life is staying a relevant part of the collegiate experience.”

Over the last several years, Greek leaders focused on initiatives like involving multicultural Greeks, preventing sexual assault and reforming the sanctions process. Last semester, advisers coached some sororities for the first time on how to talk with potential recruits to see if their values matched the chapter’s.

Connolly said in past years, at least one or two members of the governing board had served the year before.
Though Connolly said there are no plans to change the way sororities are governed, she said she is looking forward to discussing the board’s role in meetings with officials early this week. The Interfraternity Council governs the University’s 15 fraternities, but the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities governs Panhellenic organizations.

“We don’t want chapters to think they’re being punished for the sake of being punished. We want to find ways to work with them to make it a growing experience, where they can move toward becoming a stronger chapter on campus and not feeling like the punishment is weakening their standing,” she said.

Seven sororities are included on GW’s sanction website, which officials updated earlier this month.

Last year, members of Greek life also called upon the University to change the way they are punished for violating the code of conduct. Greek presidents asked GW to discipline individual chapter members instead of sanctioning entire chapters and asked officials to add more details to the list of student organizations with conduct violations in the previous year. Officials did include more details on the list of sanctions earlier this fall, but have not announced changes to the disciplinary process.

Sophomore and Panhellenic Association Executive Vice President Shirlane Chan said she hopes the new board can schedule fundraisers to avoid overlap among sororities so each group has designated philanthropy days.

Under the current system, groups choose four consecutive days to fundraise during the fall or spring semester and one day to fundraise during the other semester. She said some sororities’ philanthropy events occur on the same days, meaning that some members of Greek life might have to choose one group’s events over another’s.

Chan also said that she wants the junior Panhellenic group, which is made up of new members and reports to the executive board, to play a more active role than in previous years. She said the new members typically help the official executive board, but this semester, she wants to give the group more agency and have them organize events independently.

“I really want them to start from scratch and have the ability to implement their own creative ideas,” she said.

Danielle Zukoff contributed reporting.

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