10 Questions with PHC President Paige Rothaus
In between the awe-inspiring chaos of THON and the looming headaches in the leadup to and fallout from State Patty’s Day, the Greek community is very busy this time of year. Luckily, Panhellenic Council President Paige Rothaus answers our questions about the current state of the Greeks at Penn State and moving forward.
Onward State: What was it like to take over as PHC President in the middle of the school year?
Paige Rothaus: The timing of elections and installation worked out was great! The elections taking place in the middle of the school year made it easy to keep up the momentum of the previous executive board. Also, the entire Panhellenic, officers and executives, started fresh together. Just look at what we’ve accomplished before midterms: new service initiatives, a new class of sorority women, and launched a Community Coalition with the Interfraternity Council.
OS: The PHC and IFC recently partnered to form the IFC/PHC Community Coalition. Why was the decision made to join together now?
PR: With the IFC/PHC Community Coalition, we’ve started a conversation with State College locals to let them know we’re on their side. A few weeks ago, we hosted a Community Service Banquet so we could connect with local charities. Next, we’ll discuss eco-friendly incentive based programs. And this weekend we’ve got STATE Service Day. We’ve even scheduled joint meetings.
To be completely honest, the IFC/PHC Community Coalition is common sense. As one of the largest Greek communities in the nation, our councils face many of the same challenges. This is why it is very important for us to stay on the same page, stand united and share a voice.
OS: Greeks receive a disproportionate amount of scrutinization for their State Patty’s Day policy. What are the IFC and PHC planning as policy for this year?
PR: It’s obvious that outsiders are the problem – especially when outsiders were linked to ⅔ of last year’s State Patty’s crime. But we still want to make a difference downtown. So we’ve worked for months with downtown officials and student leaders to encourage responsible behavior this weekend.
I’ve spent the past several weeks listening to community members and what I’ve heard has motivated me – and others – to make a difference. We must recognize that this is a town where families reside. It’s where parents take their kids to Schlow Centre Region Library on weekends, and we want to make them feel that this Saturday is just as normal as any other. The community members have thanked Dan Florencio and myself for the Greek community’s positive contributions during projects like the Homecoming Parade, Greek or Treat, the Holiday Lights Tour, Greek Sweep, and our contribution to the IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
This weekend, Greeks will continue to give back. We’ve linked with the Borough to volunteer with their community initiative to be a friendly and sober presence downtown. We started STATE Service Day with the Council of LionHearts. And Sunday at noon, we’ll be back in the BJC fighting cancer. But this time we’ll join Pink Zone PSU to raise Breast Cancer awareness as we cheer on the Lady Lions against Northwestern University.
OS: How do you see the Greek community’s relationship with THON evolving over time as it moves further away from its IFC/PHC roots?
PR: The IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon is proud of its roots. They are growing exponentially, and with growth comes change. Our relationship grew stronger this year by constantly communicating through meetings, and even becoming friends. Greeks will always remain a large part of THON. We’ll always be dedicated and loyal for the kids.
OS: What were you doing at THON 2011?
PR: I’ll never forget being on the floor with my sorority sisters when the total was announced. It was moving and incomprehensible. $9.56 million for the kids! It’s incredible. That by far was my favorite part.
I also loved being able to get on the floor and help the dancers. I’m a former Moraler, so it’s in my THON nature to give random backrubs and be full of energy to keep spirits high. It’s rewarding to know that you’re helping a dancer preserver. Slides of Strength was also great with the IFC, PHC, and Homecoming executive committees. And Greek Hour was great, too. But Family Hour until the end was just incredible.
OS: What do you think is the single biggest problem the Greek community faces?
PR: Most sororities were founded in the 1800s on values like friendship, integrity, loyalty, service and scholarship. Our Greek life promotional video, Beyond the Letters: Penn State Greek, highlights how that message remains important today as we strive to live our ritual. As Penn State students, sometimes it’s easy to forget that message when we’re tied down to all of the other pressures we face as young men and women. But we’re anchored to those principles and we have a pretty good track record of sticking to this message, but there’s always room for improvement.
OS: What is your favorite part of having an office in the upper floors of the HUB?
PR: Ah, the HUB is awesome. There’s a great energy up there: THON, HEC, Student Activities – it’s where students work year-long to create Penn State’s pride and spirit. I love popping into the Greek Life office to see the executive officers collaborating with each other about their new ideas. It’s become my second home and really has everything I need except a bed.
OS: How do you perceive the role of the PHC President in the Penn State and State College communities?
PR: I see the role as Panhellenic President to be the voice of the Panhellenic women across campus and in the community. I stand to represent the women, making their voices heard, and heard accurately. To be successful, this has to work both ways. I see myself as bridging the gap between Greek women and other student groups, administration or community residents and officials.
OS: This semester has seen a boost in recruitment, whereas the IFC recruitment has trended downard. Why do you think that is?
We’re finishing up those totals, but I think they’ll surprise you. But here’s what I can say: we have a proven track record of producing student leaders that are rooted in ritual. Greeks are exceptional leaders, scholars, philanthropists, and above all, friends. Our chapters constantly push themselves above and beyond to make positive changes on campus and better themselves as individuals. Students are hoping to have the most enriching college experience and create memories that will last a lifetime, and they are looking to Greek life to fulfill that.
OS: If you could be any dinosaur, what dinosaur would you be and why?
PR: Stegosaurus because it has an awesome, full-body mohawk.
A pretty clear idea of where the PHC, and the Greek community in general, stand. Paige definitely has a vision looking forward as well. She speaks for a large amount of people—is she on par with the views of most sorority members?