Greek Life: More than Partying?

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Greek life plays a major role in the college experience.  But behind the fraternity parties, the mixers, and the formals… there’s actually a method to the madness? Some level of organization behind the seemingly wild lifestyle of a stereotypical Greek affiliate? 

If you enjoy today’s popular culture, the entertaining (yet slightly rancid) images of “American Pie Beta House” may be among the first to come to mind when you think “Greek.”  However, there is much more to Greek life than what mainstream media provides. Panhellenic president Taylor Schmidt, a prominent member of the Greek council at the University of Michigan, discussed the business that unfolds behind the scenes.

In terms of responsibilities, Schmidt is in charge of several meetings.  First, she leads the Panhellenic Executive Board meeting on a weekly basis.  At these gatherings, each officer has a chance to speak about anything they are working on or need assistance with to the 10 members of the Executive Board and prepare for smaller Panhellenic meetings that take place the next day.  According to Schmidt, it is here that “each officer makes their announcements to Panhel reps, and it is also the place where discussion and voting takes place if there is a suggested change in the Greek bylaws or recruitment rules.” 

As Panhellenic President, Taylor also acts as liaison for the other three Greek Councils on campus: the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC).  Each semester, the four Council presidents meet to discuss plans and goals regarding philanthropy, campus involvement, and a host of other initiatives.

“On a biweekly basis,” Schmidt explained, “I hold a meeting called Gavel Club, which consists of the presidents of each Greek chapter. This meeting provides a chance for me to bring up anything I want to discuss with them and it is also a time for them to bounce ideas off each other.”

Gavel Club acts as a reminder to the presidents that they are not alone in the struggles of running a large group of girls since the responsibility of this presidential duty can sometimes be difficult. “This is one of my favorite parts of my job,” Schmidt said. “I love being a friend and resource to the girls, and we have all become great friends during our terms as president.”

Being a member of Panhel not only comes with responsibility but with a supportive social network as well.  Schmidt happily gushes that one of the greatest advantages of being Panhel president “is gaining nine other new best friends: the Panhel Executive Board.”  Although the members of E-Board all come from different sororities and did not know one another prior to being elected, “we have become a close-knit family.”  The job is stressful, but Schmidt and the other girls can always count on each other for anything from Greek issues to school stresses.

Schmidt emphasized her love for her position in Panhel and for the spirit of Greek life: “While I knew a lot about my own sorority previously, Panhel has given me the opportunity to gain an understanding about all the other chapters, and this makes me really appreciate our Greek community as a whole!”

Senior > Communication and French > University of Michigan

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