10 Questions with Greek Week Overall Shannon Fusina

The semester may be winding down, but Greek organizations on campus are still actively involved and eagerly awaiting Greek Week. We caught up with Greek Week Overall Shannon Fusina, and learned that it is about much more than themed socials and day-longing.

Onward State: Can you describe for us in 140 characters or less (we’re big Twitter fans at Onward State) what exactly is Greek Week?
Shannon Fusina: Greek Week is a week of service, philanthropy, and competition to create unity and foster friendship among all four participating councils.

OS: This year’s theme is “Lions with Letters, United Together.” What message is your Overall Committee trying to convey to both the Penn State and Greek communities?
SF: This particular theme was chosen because we really wanted to integrate both the Greek and Penn State communities. Too often people outside of Greek Life consider us to be a removed, independent part of the Penn State culture. We want people to know that we are proud of being both Greek and Penn Staters. While we all have pride in our individual letters and the culture of Greek life as a whole, we also have a lot of pride in calling ourselves Nittany Lions.

OS: What kind of planning goes into making an event like Greek Week successful? Have you run into any big challenges and obstacles so far?
SF: The committee was originally chosen at the end of the fall semester and finalized over winter break. Ever since, we have been planning full time since the semester began. We meet as a committee at least once a week in addition to meetings with our captains. We want to make sure that the week is as much fun as possible for all involved, especially by abiding the rules of the borough for the events held downtown.

Each of the 12 positions on the Overall Committee is responsible for a different aspect of Greek Week and making sure their respective events run smoothly. We have been very lucky this year– very few obstacles have come our way!

OS: This is the second year that Red Bull has been a corporate sponsor for Greek Week. How did you go about maintaining this partnership? What exactly is Red Bull’s involvement?
SF: Red Bull is an amazing co-sponsor of Greek Week! The partnership started last year when Red Bull first came to us about sponsoring the Chariot Race. They wanted to take what we always did and make it bigger and better. The event was a huge success and better than last year’s overalls could have hoped. They willingly came back this year and wanted to expand their involvement with Greek Week even further.

New this year will be Red Bull 5-Spot Soccer Tournament as one of the athletic competitions. It is a 5 vs. 5 soccer tournament hosted by Red Bull at college campuses all over the US. Along with hosting and providing prizes for these two events, Red Bull will be at the Kick Off party and other competitions to lend their support. They will also be present at the three scheduled 21+ Greek Week Night Outs at Cafe 210 (which already occurred), G-Man, and Mezzanine. I am beyond thrilled with their involvement and hopefully this partnership continues to grow in the coming years.

OS: Greek Week is one of the few week-long pairing events held each year. How do you plan to get away from the stigma that these week-long events are all about drinking?
SF: Hopefully our presence in downtown State College will help alleviate this issue. We have moved many of the events to where the fraternities are located– we want as many residential neighbors as possible to see the work we put into the week, whether it’s sporting competitions or some of our service events.

We have three major events that are held annually and focus on both service and philanthropy, instead of socializing and drinking. They are the AIDS Walk, Day of Service, and Canned Food Drive. All three events have strong community involvement. The Day of Service will involve over 220 members putting forth over 450 hours of community service while working for both the borough and the Second Mile. Throughout the whole week, we will be co-sponsoring a blood drive held each day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Alumni Hall. Our Community Relations Overall Tyler Newcombe ([email protected]) has done an incredible job planning these events and anyone interested in getting more involved in the philanthropic side of Greek Week can contact him to learn more.

OS: There are a lot of Greek Week events (Chariot races, Greek God and Goddess Pageant, spirit points contests). Can you describe some of the bigger events that are held throughout the week?
SF: One of my favorite events is the Greek Pageant. This year, we changed the theme to Penn State God and Goddess in an attempt to turn away from previous misconceptions about the production. The contestants must display Greek pride within both their chapter and for the Penn State Greek community. Being entertaining is an added bonus! This year, IFC President Dan Florencio will be hosting the event– he actually was a contestant in last year’s event.

Another great event that is often overlooked is the Variety Show. This event is unique because although it is hosted by Greek Week, no Greek-specific organizations are performing. We use this event as a way to showcase a selection of talented organizations on campus and giving them the recognition they deserve! The acts will range from tap dancing clubs to student magicians. I am definitely excited to show Penn State that Greek Life supports organizations outside of the four councils. Students (and community members) should definitely attend– it is going to be a great show.

A Greek Week event favorite is definitely the Chariot Race. It is a true culmination to a jam-packed week! Chapters turn PVC piping, wood and wheels into racing contraptions that will hopefully survive all of the races. Red Bull’s involvement just makes the event bigger and better.

OS: Which Greek Week event has been your absolute favorite?
SF: My absolute favorite event during Greek Week has always been the sporting competitions. I am an extremely competitive person, so any excuse to compete is enough for me to get involved. I did end up injuring myself in last year’s kickball tournament, but it was worth it for the team! All of the sporting events are co-ed which gives you the opportunity to meet people in your triad in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.

OS: What has been your favorite part of being involved in Greek Life on campus?
SF: First off, Greek Life has given me my best friends. I have made friends for life and cannot thank my chapter enough. I have found an amazing support system that will be there forever and for that I am forever grateful! Outside of my chapter, I have met more people than any other Penn State organization can allow. The extremely broad range of characteristics and personalities of every person in Greek Life is something that I think is unique to the Greek system and should not be taken for granted. Being a part of a Greek Chapter has also given me so many opportunities to enrich my college experience. I have been able to hold three positions in my chapter along with being a Greek Sing Executive Director last semester and Greek Week Overall this semester. They are some of the proudest moments I have ever had and memories I will forever hold close. Joining Greek life was the best decision of my college career and I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to simply give it a try!

OS: Now onto some of the fun questions. What is your favorite place to eat in State College… and what do you order?
SF: I love Fresh Harvest Cafe. I used to eat there all the time. Now that I live on the other side of campus, I don’t get to go as often as I’d like but my meal of choice is definitely the grilled vegetable salad with a cup of their amazing tomato basil bisque. Yum.

OS: If you could be any dinosaur, who would you be and why?
SF: I would have to pick a Megalosauraus. It was the species of dinosaur that Baby Sinclair was from the 1990s TV show, Dinosaur. Baby was by far the best character.

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