10 Questions with New IFC President Rick Groves
The season is here for Greek council elections. As is Onward State tradition, we sat down to chat with newly-elected Interfraternity Council President Rick Groves. Groves officially took office two weeks ago, and he has lots of ideas for the upcoming year. Here’s what he had to say.
Onward State: What got you initially interested in joining Greek Life at Penn State?
Rick Groves: My father was in Alpha Tau Omega at UNC-Chapel Hill, so I came to Penn State with a reasonable expectation that I would join a fraternity. After attending zone days, I was incredibly impressed with the kindness and openness with which I was greeted. This kind of welcoming environment was one that I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of. Though I ended up at Delta Tau Delta, I will never forget the sense of brotherhood I witnessed at every chapter I visited.
OS: The IFC President is a job that’s a lot of hard work, and very public. What inspired you to run for this position?
RG: To be honest, IFC President wasn’t even on my radar until somewhat recently. As I watched the older guys shift their focus towards graduation, I began to wonder who would pick up the conversation where we left off. The current board has done some great things for Greek life, but our term is coming to a close and I feel there is so much left to accomplish. After some soul-searching, I realized I had the context and experience necessary to continue their legacy and make sure the IFC doesn’t skip a beat. Moreover, I feel an obligation to help lead the community that has given me so much. My Penn State career has been shaped by my involvement in Greek life, and I feel it is only appropriate that I lend my efforts to preserving the experience for future students.
OS: You served as the Administrative Vice President for IFC last year. How did that position prepare you to be President?
RG: Serving as Administrative Vice President really opened my eyes to the complexity of the Greek community here at Penn State. The entire system relies on the delicate relationship between Greek organizations, the university, the borough, and countless other groups. Aside from being introduced to leaders within each of these parties, serving as AVP gave me the context necessary to see how they all fit together.
OS: I know that the IFC executive board gets a lot of nice perks, like a sweet North Face jacket (they look warm, I’m a little jealous). What other perks do you get?
RG: Well, I get a parking pass that allows me to park on campus pretty much any time, though it seems this is more of a necessity than a convenience. I’ve heard stories of past presidents being so busy they were forced to sleep in the HUB.
OS: What would be your top priority to accomplish this year for IFC?
RG: As I stated earlier, the Greek experience relies so heavily on our relationship with the other organizations we work alongside. As always, the goal of the IFC is to strengthen those relationships to foster positive experiences for our members. Echoing the words of Abby Renko, I believe improving our communication with the Panhellenic Council will be a huge advantage going forward. Our fates have become increasingly intertwined in recent years and input from both sides will be necessary to ensure the longevity of our organizations.
OS: What do you think is a challenge IFC is facing or will face in this upcoming year, and how do you plan to address that?
RG: One of the greatest challenges the IFC must face is the general skepticism that has surrounded Greek life in recent years. While far from the norm, events like those at WVU have tarnished the reputation of Greek organizations and it will be a challenge to regain that credibility. As the largest Interfraternity Council in the nation, Penn State must meet these issues head-on and establish itself as a vehicle for positive change.
OS: What changes do you hope to make to IFC and the Greek system as a whole this year?
RG: I think the Greek system would benefit greatly from the introduction of a joint-council between IFC and Panhel. Our organizations rely on each other to survive and getting leaders from both sides into the same room could lead to some fantastic ideas.
OS: IFC has been doing a lot this year regarding the huge issue of sexual assaults in the Penn State community. What are your plans to address sexual assaults?
RG: Education has always been our most powerful tool in the fight to prevent sexual assault. Though this problem is far from exclusive to the Greek community, I believe we are uniquely positioned to be part of the solution. Considering the resources at our disposal, you can expect an increased utilization of guest speakers and awareness initiatives over the next year. Enabling members to identify and appropriately respond to sexual assault creates a safer environment for everyone involved.
OS: If your house cook could only make one dinner for the rest of eternity, what would your requested meal be?
RG: Though you probably haven’t heard of it, “breakfast pizza” is a meal that was introduced to our chapter earlier this semester (shout out to Chef Carlton for making it a reality). It remains to be seen if breakfast pizza was born from sheer creativity, a shortage of cooking materials, or perhaps both; but the result is unexpectedly tasty.
OS: Dogs in the houses… Is there a rule about them? Honestly, OS is trying to write something on frat dogs and only four chapters will talk to us — we know more houses have dogs than that!
RG: I can’t release such information. Frat dogs are the Greek community’s best-kept secret.