Student Association leaders plan to work more closely with Greek life in the coming academic year.
SA President Peak Sen Chua added two new Greek life positions to his cabinet next academic year: a director of Greek affairs for the Interfraternity Council and another for the Panhellenic Council. SA and Greek leaders said the new positions would increase communication between the two major student life groups and work to tackle serious campus-wide issues like sexual assault.
Julia Satin, a sophomore and the Panhellenic delegate for Alpha Phi, will serve as the director of Greek affairs for the Panhellenic Council. Karl Pederson, a rising junior and the vice president of Delta Tau Delta, will represent the Interfraternity Council.
Chua said he added the positions to increase communication between the SA and the Greek community, a focus of his original campaign for executive vice president.
But after unexpectedly assuming the presidential role in the wake of the dramatic SA election season, Chua said he wanted to create the cabinet positions to build communication between the SA and Greek life members.
“Those two positions there in my cabinet give the opportunity for leaders in Panhel and IFC to work on issues specific to the community,” he said.
Chua said about 3,000 undergraduate students are involved in Greek life at GW, and the SA should be tuned into the needs and concerns of such a large number of students.
Former SA President Erika Feinman revived the director of Greek affairs position this academic year in an effort to generate conversation between the Greek community and the SA. The effort fizzled when the director resigned, Feinman said in an email.
Feinman said the position was largely ineffective because it was more beneficial for them to reach out to the Panhellenic Association and IFC directly.
Chua said both the SA and the Greek life community want to work together to combat sexual assault in the coming academic year.
“I think we have a good opportunity to work with Panhel, and with the SA to support their efforts and to support our own efforts to find a solution to this very serious problem,” he said.
Chua said the SA is creating a plan against sexual assault for the upcoming school year, which includes working with the newly formed sexual assault task force.
Last month, the Panhellenic Association announced plans to create a task force after sexual assault reports on campus increased and council leaders said druggings had been reported at IFC social events this academic year. Council leaders said they challenged the IFC to address the problem.
Satin said one organization alone cannot effectively change the culture around sexual assault.
“Combatting sexual assault requires addressing the cultural values and norms that support and tolerate sexual assault — an undertaking that no one organization can shoulder itself,” she said in an email. “Responsibility for the eradication of sexual assault rests with the whole GW community.”
Satin added that in her new role, she will work with the SA to advocate for a “systematic” approach to preventing sexual assaults, including pushing for preventative trainings and improving how the Title IX office responds to cases.
Satin said that although she was not involved in creating the Panhellenic Association’s task force, she is now a member of the committee and hopes that it will create campus-wide discussion about sexual assault.
“The safety of GW students is in question, and I’m encouraged by the momentum behind this issue from multiple campus-wide organizations,” she said. “I look forward to being a loud and passionate advocate for survivors.”
Pederson said he is also a member of the Panhellenic task force.
“Sexual assault is a serious issue, one I will work on during my time as director,” he said in an email. “The more people we can bring to the table to tackle serious issues like these, the better.”
Pederson said multiple points of overlap already exist within the SA and Greek life, because many SA leaders are also involved in Greek life. Both the SA president and EVP were members of Greek organizations this academic year.
“I will increase communication and conversation between Greek organizations and other student organizations on campus in order to strengthen the GW community on our campuses,” he said. “Greek students represent almost a third of students on GW’s campus. Their views and opinions ought to be heard.”
Nelson said she hopes the positions create a conversation around sexual assault, because of the SA’s power and influence among other student organizations on campus.
“A large role the SA can play is helping to facilitate these conversations and discussions — which is why the directors of Greek affairs are so important,” Nelson said in an email. “The SA can help publicize efforts and materials, as well as work to improve the SRR experience.”