10 Questions: Greek Week Style
With Greek Week in full force this week, OS decided to get to the heart of the matter and interview Interfraternity Council (IFC) President Luke Pierce. I had the chance to sit down with Luke and learn about his beliefs both Greek related and not. His responses were at times surprising, yet he shows great promise and ambition as a student leader in the large (and highly organized) Greek community. Even more flattering: he’s an avid OS reader. This Sigma Alpha Epsilon (colloquially SAE) brother was incredibly gracious and taught this GDI a great deal about what it means to be a Greek at Dear Old State.
1. I’ve asked a few friends who are involved in Greek life this question and none of them have been able to give me a definitive answer. What is Greek Week?
Greek Week is a celebration for all four Greek councils – IFC, Pan-Hellenic, National Pan-Hellenic, and Multicultural Greek Council – to get together in spring semester and celebrate the bonds and rituals that we all share here. In the past it’s been, you know, a glorified extension for a drinking fest, but we’re moving away from that. My freshman year it was absolutely wild, it was a crazy week, but it’s become more meaningful to the members in the way that they actually appreciate the bonds that they share. I don’t think it should only be one week a year that we share this, it should be a year-round venture, but I’m glad we glad that we take the time every year to celebrate and recognize it.
2. As IFC President, what does your job entail on a “day to day” or “week to week” basis?
Well, I guess it would start with a basic definition of the IFC. The IFC is the basic governing body of the now 49 recognized fraternities and sororities here on campus. That covers a wide range of things from promoting philanthropic and community service values, enforcing risk management, procedures in our social policy, as well as overseeing recruitment and new member education. It encompasses a lot of things. On a day to day basis I spend a majority of my time working with the other members of the executive board and other student leaders to bring our government to more legitimacy. That’s my main focus this semester. In the past it’s been viewed as a kind of administrative pawn. It’s there to govern students, but in the end the administration throws the hammer down there. We’ve taken a lot more steps this semester to make our standards process, our judicial process, much more student controlled.
3. If you could sum up your Greek experience so far in either one word or one sentence, what would it be?
Wow. (Pauses) One word or one sentence. They asked a contestant that tonight at the pageant and her answer was something like “We are powerful”. I think we are powerful. I think it’s a very empowering experience. For me, it’s been a very life changing experience. I came to Penn State actually with intention to transfer to another school after my first semester and I got involved with Recruitment 2006. I rushed a couple of fraternities and ended up at SAE, I guess I never looked back at that point. That’s the reason I stayed at Penn State. The friendship, the bonds, the challenge you have everyday to be a fraternity member, the challenge to be a better person, to be a more productive student, to be a more productive leader, I wish everyone here at Penn State could share in that process. It’s truly unique to the Greek experience. I don’t think you could get this experience – this well rounded experience – anywhere else on this campus. So, I guess to answer your question, I guess it’s got to be “It’s the most powerful experience of my life”.
4. Do you have a favorite memory or story that’s Greek related?
I have a lot of stories I could tell you here (laughs). I don’t know. I think my favorite memory would be the day I was elected IFC President. It was one of the most nerve wracking experiences I’ve ever had. I campaigned pretty hard to go through that. I really had a vision for what the Greek community should be, and I think a lot of people – especially presidents I sat with during my president’s council – shared that as well. So the day I got elected was probably one of the most profound moments in my life because I knew at that point that I had the trust of thousands of individuals and enthralled with the opportunity to make this system better. Everything the Greek system at Penn State has given me, I now have the opportunity to give that back tenfold, and I try to take advantage of that every day in my work with IFC. The day I finished pledging SAE is also up there. That was definitely a powerful moment for me and all of my pledge brothers. It was a culmination of a really challenging but rewarding experience. Picking between those two would be really difficult, but they’re both up there. I really can’t pick one of them.
5. Why did you choose to pledge SAE?
At the time I really didn’t think about the values – what the organization meant to people. I only thought about the people in the organization. And, I had two really good friends from home that were members in SAE, and they strongly encouraged me to participate in recruitment. They really drove me to that house there. What I ended up learning later was that the values of our organization are really lived everyday by the guys in that house. So, little did I know, it was really recruiting on those values – it was just really the guys being themselves and being, you know, brothers in SAE. I’d be curious to see how many other individuals look at recruitment that way and share in that same experience.
You mention values. To clarify for our readers, what are the values of SAE?
Honor, loyalty, friendship, and fraternity are the four values stated in the ritual there. I definitely think that loyalty and friendship are two things that have been very meaningful to me and I don’t think I’d be where I am without a core group of individuals that embody those two things.
6. How do you feel about the changes being proposed in Greek Life for next Fall?
We saw a little bit of a push with that last Fall, and the timing on the articles you saw in the Collegian – they weren’t the greatest – they weren’t particularly worded in our favor. They sort of made us sound elitist, but that’s not our intent there. Our intent is that we can safely hold these parties and social functions and that as a prerequisite you become part of the Greek system. I think in the future that it’ll be a great tool for recruitment by making the social scene exclusive to Greeks. I’m all for it. I hope in the future that we move towards “Greek-centeredness”. It’ll only do great things for us and increase our numbers.
7. On a more personal side, what’s something that most people wouldn’t expect or know about you?
I don’t think many people expect that I’m a smoker… Marlboro Lights. I’ve been trying to quit–I gave it up for Lent. As long as Obama is smoking, I’m going to have a hard time not rationalizing it.
8. What’s your favorite place to eat in State College and what do you usually order?
Dee’s Soup & Salads and the Italian Bistro Panini and whatever the soup of the day is. Definitely one of my favorite meals there. The proximity to my house at SAE, the great food and the great people – Tom is a great manager there. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.
9. What’s your favorite flavor of Creamery ice cream?
Definitely Peachy Paterno. I think that’s a cliché answer, but it’s really, really good (laughs).
10. Lastly, our signature question: If you could be any dinosaur, which would you be and why?
(Pauses) My gut says T-Rex, but that’s really arrogant (laughs). Um…I would probably say…wow…that’s a tough one. I’d probably say the Raptor. I know Michael Crichton made that one up, but those were some pretty smart and pretty intelligent animals in Jurassic Park and that’s one of my favorite movies.
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