Greeks Reveal Goals for IFC/PHC Coalition
The Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council announced a partnership yesterday to create the IFC/PHC Community Coalition. The initiative is apparently the first of its kind; though the IFC, PHC, and the other two Greek councils have collaborated in the past, this seems to be the first time that the IFC and PHC have joined forces in a “official” way.
Onward State sat down yesterday afternoon with leadership from both of the councils to learn more about the plans. Led by IFC President Dan Florencio and PHC President Paige Rothaus, the IFC/PHC Community Coalition has three main policy initiatives at this point.
The first and most immediate is a banquet that will bring the Greek community into contact with local service organizations. The IFC and PHC are sponsoring the dinner– which from the description of IFC VP of Programming Will Sheehan, sounded delicious– to give community service chairs from chapters in all four of the Greek governing councils the opportunity to connect with organizations that serve the State College community.
The banquet will be held in the Nittany Lion Inn from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on February 8. Chapter representatives will also be given a handy cheat sheet of the organizations that are attending, complete with information about what they do and how to contact them.
A second objective of the coalition, which seemed to be the least immediate concern of the Greek leadership, was a program to make fraternity houses more eco-friendly. Sheeahan said that the program will be incentive-based and entail guidelines designed to make Greek living more green while minimally affecting the students’ lifestyle. I’m expecting the plan to include more than just recycling Natty cans, but very little has actually been announced about this program so far.
The third objective is undoubtedly the plank of this coalition’s platform that will shape the news cycle over the coming month as Penn State’s premiere student-create drinking holiday (nice legacy, Joe Veltre) quickly approaches. Few stories manifest the drinking culture at Penn State more obviously than State Patty’s Day, and especially in a post-Dado environment, the Greek councils’ response to it will be scrutinized by many in the Penn State and State College community.
The IFC/PHC Community Coalition will hold a joint IFC-PHC President’s Council on February 21 for its leadership to discuss a plan for State Patty’s Day, which will take over State College just five days later.
The Collegian ran with the State Patty’s Day angle as the most newsworthy outcome of the councils’ announcement, and it might be… just not yet.
No specific policy for State Patty’s Day has been revealed, and that’s where the real news will be. (The community policing initiative that the Greek councils will be supporting in conjunction with the Council of Lionhearts and the State College Police Department is more of a service project than a policy response to State Patty’s Day, at least in my opinion.)
In both the original press release for the IFC/PHC Community Coalition and the conversation with Greek leadership last night, the statistic that 2/3 of the people given citations last year weren’t Penn State students, and if the Facebook event is any indication, this year’s drunken deluge will be no less robust. Yet it is the Greek community that will be held accountable, if only because it can be held accountable (imagine the Off Campus Student Union President getting grilled for State Patty’s Day policy).
Yet on the other hand, neither the community service banquet nor the green initiative represents a significant evolution in the operations of the two councils. Programs like The Suite Life (formerly Pimp My Suite) and CORE have already incentivized community service and begun to engage Greek organizations with philanthropic and service organizations other than their nationally affiliated philanthropies and THON. Adding a green component to that seems like a smart move, but only in its execution will we be able to assess how serious the councils are about making fraternities and sororities eco-friendly.
I hate to make this a process story (Ok, not really), but my biggest takeaway from yesterday’s announcement was that the IFC and PHC finally have their communications shit together. The councils are speaking with a unified voice, one that I assume will eventually be announcing unified policy. That’s a big move.
I’ve been covering the Greek community for a couple years now, and I believe that this class of leaders has significantly improved the operations of the Greek councils outreach apparatus. Snatching former Collegian all-star Kevin Cirilli as his VP of Communications has proven to be a coup for Florencio, and Rothaus’ VP of Communications Yasemin Baris is no slouch either. As I’ve said before, this has been perhaps most evident in the world of social media, which the executives are beginning to leverage at an organizational level, and not just as individuals.
The IFC/PHC Community Coalition could likely end up being a vehicle for progressive policy, but right now what it represents is a more sophisticated communications strategy for the Greek community. Having a unifying presence– complete with a snazzy logo– will make distributing messages with a unified voice much easier, I think that’s for sure. The question now is whether the leaders will be able to use this organization as a force for pushing the Greek community forward and making real progress in relations with the State College community, or if it is just a blip in the cycle and a PR opportunity. We might not know until the week after THON, when policy for State Patty’s day is announced… but shouldn’t there be a video coming out soon too?