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Lessons Learned From ‘The Greek Endorsement’

The Greek-endorsed candidate for student body president has won yet again.

In the minutes and hours after the election results were announced, I began seeing tweets expressing frustration over this fact. “Greeks only vote because their friends tell them who to vote for.” “Other students deserve a voice too.” “Why do Greeks run everything?!” Comments like these seemed to be the general tone of individuals who apparently did not support Lennartz- Mullen.

These thoughts do hold some truth to them. Most Greeks could care less about UPUA. We answer to IFC and PHC, and that’s who we’ll rely on to promote our best interests as Penn State students. The decision making power of those two bodies resides entirely with our chapter presidents, who we elect. So when our presidents – our own brothers and sisters – decide which candidate is best for the position of student body president, we stand behind them.

But are Greeks really so different from the rest of the student body? This election saw a voter turnout of a pitiful 19%. It seems that we all equally don’t care about UPUA. I’m not saying this is justified, in fact to me it is inexcusable. Every student does deserve a voice, and guess what – they have one! On election day, every four out of five students deliberately chose not to use it.

What this election shows us, like the five before it, is that the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Council endorsements take advantage of the lack of student engagement. If you look at the numbers, there is no way Greeks should be deciding who wins. But by choosing not to care, independents let us make that decision.

So what’s the lesson here?

For student body president hopefuls, it’s to go Greek. Not as a junior, but as an underclassman. You will instantly gain our trust, build a massive network of friends, and most importantly, become a part of what I believe is the greatest leadership development program that Penn State has to offer.

As for the general student body, well, you can either join us or stand against us, but nothing is going to change until you stop caring more about the new THON OC than you do this University and its students. Imagine the power of the student voice if 15,000 people voted in UPUA elections! If you want to make a difference without joining UPUA, then take a page from our book – join a student org, find others like yours, create a council, and make an endorsement. Bottom line, until the election turnout doubles the number of Greeks on campus, Greeks will continue to be the election X factor.

There’s a lesson too for Greeks in all of this. Next year, learn something about the candidates before you vote at the behest of your councils. Lennartz-Mullen most likely slid by because of all the pollings that were done at the fraternities by IFC. It accumulates a staggering amount of dummy votes. I would know, because I helped do it last year. Ultimately, the Lennartz administration will have little to no effect on our lives as Greeks. But as Penn Staters, what will matter most to you about Courtney Lennartz is how she represents us when the news vans return to State College as the Sandusky scandal resurfaces. After her Spanier-esque vanishing act last November, I have some concerns. And I sincerely hope that in the end, we don’t regret our blurry-eyed support of Lennartz-Mullen.

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