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Greek Community Strives for Change

As a prelude to the Strategic Planning weekend, students involved in Greek life met Friday, Oct. 16 on the ninth floor of Vaughn to discuss their hopes and expectations for the upcoming program.

Among the most widely voiced desires for change were the improvement of student-faculty relations, the dissolution of chapter stereotypes and the mutual respect and open-mindedness of the entire Greek community.

This open student discussion was followed by brief individual presentations and status reports  by presiding panelists Stephanie Russel Holz, Linda Devine, Patricia O’Grady, Jim Lee, Monnie Wertz, Mike Gilmer, Bianca Williams and UT sophomore, Kelsey Thomas.

President Vaughn also spoke at the event.

Each panelist added their voice in support of the Greek community and contributed unique insight to the task of betterment at hand.

Many also spoke of the vast improvement in the Greek organizations of UT over the past decade, pointing to the increase of funding, staff support and chapter enrollment as definite signs of progress.

Although the optimism in the room remained strong, the need for change was acknowledged unanimously.

“We stand at a crossroads,” said associate dean and director of OSLE, Stephanie Russel Holz.

Several grievances pertaining to the current state of Greek life on campus were raised and addressed in a frank and open manner.

The multiple disciplinary hearings faced by certain UT chapters, as well as the antagonistic relations between students and staff figured largely in the discussion.

A recent academic report stating that a staggering 75 percent of students involved in Greek life at UT were at or below the academic average for the university was also addressed.

“We see students not coming to class, cheating and appearing before disciplinary boards,” said assistant professor of marketing, Jim Lee.

“And we often read about it in The Minaret.”

Appeals for increased chapter cooperation, more stringent recruitment qualifications and increased responsibility in upholding the integrity of Greek organizations were commonplace throughout the presentations.

“When you walk across campus with those letters emblazoned upon your chest it means something,” said  Monnie Wertz, the associate dean of students.

Strategic Planning weekend took place Oct. 17 and 18.

Members of the UT Greek life community met to discuss their one year, three year and five year improvement plans.

Jeffrey Palmer can be reached at jpalmer@ut.edu.

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