FAU works to make its community of brothers and sisters look more professional

FAU+works+to+make+its+community+of+brothers+and+sisters+look+more+professional

Regina Kaza

Ryan O’ Rourke, Coordinator of Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life

How many Greeks are in the Office of Greek Life? None.

Actually, there hasn’t been an Office of Greek Life since summer 2010. The Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life changed its name to be “more inclusive” and so students from Greece don’t come looking for information, according to office coordinator Ryan O’Rourke. He explained it’s a trend happening on a lot of campuses, and part of other changes the office is making. “It sounds more professional. It’s more inclusive and transparent about what we are,” O’Rourke said.

Some fraternities don’t use Greek letters. For example, a new social fraternity made up of mostly social science and engineering students at FAU is simply called “Triangle.” Another name change: “Rush” is now referred to as “recruitment.” O’Rourke believes that the word “rush” gives the idea that new members have to be chosen quickly. “Recruitment is having 365 days to get to know people. It’s not about just one week: It’s about spending a year making relationships,” he said.

Names are only one of the things changing, and even that takes a while. The office’s Facebook page is still called “Greek Life @ FAU” – Facebook won’t let them change it – and the university catalog won’t reflect the change until next year. “Is it going to change a lot? Not really. Poor choices that fraternities and sororities make aren’t going to change because of the name,” O’Rourke said. “But it may make people take sororities and fraternities a little more seriously.”

Other image changes, like raising GPA and handling discipline issues may take longer. Two fraternities “violated University policies and procedures concerning alcoholic beverages,” according to Kristine Gobbo, assistant VP and press secretary of media relations. Delta Tau Delta president Kirk Moncol believes that during recruitment, it’s important to make sure “the potential new members represent our values and will represent the chapter in the best possible manner in every aspect.”

The spring 2011 Fraternity & Sorority Life Community Report showed that Delta Tau Delta and Sigma Alpha Mu were “both charged and found responsible for violations related to alcohol.”

“In February 2011, two Greek organizations violated University policies and procedures   concerning alcoholic beverages,” said Gobbo. “Due to this violation, the organizations were placed on probation and there was a restriction imposed on alcohol at social events for an extended period of time.”

Moncol said the brothers learned from the experience. “One of our chapter’s core values is accountability. We were not accountable for our actions that night as a chapter. It showed our chapter it is not the duty of one brother to stop a bad situation. Every brother has the ability to step up and make change.”

“We’re on a new slate, we’re working past it,” Eric Fasone, president of Sigma Alpha Mu said. “It was a slap on the wrist for sure. We took care of it, we did community service for Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, Alzheimer’s, the blood drive, but those are things we would have done regardless.” Sigma Alpha Mu and Delta Tau Delta were two of the many fraternities that had a growth in GPA, according to the community report.

Fasone mentioned that his fraternity is currently conducting a membership review. This is where headquarters has one on one interviews with members and discusses their current grades, GPA and whether or not they pay their dues. After this review, Sigma Alpha Mu was cut down to twelve members.

“Membership review is what got us out of it,” said Fasone. “When we did it, good kids and many of my friends got kicked out, but you have to make sacrifices to see growth.” Sigma Alpha Mu currently requires members to have a 2.5 GPA, but will boost the requirement to a 2.6 in spring 2012. A greater amount of sororities are seeing a drop in GPAs. Sigma Gamma Rho’s Membership Intake, Kristina Hall-Michel, mentioned that Sigma Gamma Rho’s former chapter members all graduated in 2006.

“My sorority sisters and I have spent long hours establishing ourselves on campus and letting the student body know what our sorority represents and how we differ from others,” said Kristina Hall-Michel. “It can be difficult to mange your time between this, classes, and our personal lives.” They are working to avoid running into this issue again by setting up a study log in the library, study hall and requiring minimum study hours.

Alpha Delta Pi, on the other hand, boosted their GPA from the past semester.

According to their president, Lauren Reidy, they expect each member to show commitment through academic performance, classroom attendance and accomplishment. “We have sisters who volunteer their time to hold study groups throughout the week for other sisters to attend. We also have a Library Fairy who will randomly walk around the library handing treats to sisters who are studying!”

Currently, the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life does not offer tutoring to its members. O’Rourke said, “We are trying to provide resources at the office, but we are not academic experts. We would like for members to use the resources available by the university.”

Reidy advises fraternities and sororities who are struggling academically to reach out to their organizations’ alumnae volunteers. “I think it’s also important to set high standards academically as you work to recruit new members. Talking to members on a more personal level as to why they struggled in a specific class or semester can also help them realize that you do care about their academics and future.”