Greek council presidents unite together to create change

After years of division, the four greek councils have begun to unite thanks to the efforts of the council presidents, Adam Schroder, Micaela Choate, Jackie Lawler and Jasmine Scott. 

Sierra Hoeger and Willa Colville

“We are committed.”

These words echoed through CY Stephens Auditorium during the Greek Week Awards Ceremony held in April. In unison, these words were spoken by the four greek council presidents, and their commitment to the unity of their councils.

For many years, the Collegiate Panhellenic Council (CPC), Interfraternity Council (IFC), Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) and National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) have been divided. Since these four presidents started their term, they have worked to unite the councils. This process began with themselves.

As they took on these important roles, the four quickly bonded over their nervousness and became “actual friends,” as Micaela Choate, MGC president, said.

“We all were new to it, we were all nervous [and] we were all learning,” said Jasmine Scott, NPHC president. “Some of us had held previous positions in our chapters, but some of us had not.”

Before taking on these roles, the four had no connection to each other. Even though they all are active in the sorority and fraternity community, their paths had never crossed until they were elected into office.

“I think we would’ve became friends even if we weren’t presidents, but this is how we connected originally,” said Jackie Lawler, CPC president. “We’ve all been there for each other during hard times because not everything’s been sunny [during our term]. So being able to have more than a professional relationship and actually caring about each other has been important for us to grow as a team.”

Lawler did not exaggerate when she said “not everything’s been sunny.” These presidents were elected into an extremely divided community.

During the Greek Week Awards Ceremony – formerly known as Vespers – in 2017, representatives from chapters across the entire sorority and fraternity community attended. When the historically diverse MGC and NPHC chapters were being recognized, many audience members, specifically those within IFC and CPC, mocked their traditions and shouted racial slurs.

While this happened months before they entered office, Lawler and IFC president, Adam Schroeder, decided they wanted to apologize to Choate, Scott and the chapters within their councils on behalf of IFC and CPC. After meeting numerous times and devising a plan, Lawler and Schroeder brought their idea to Choate and Scott.

From there, the four prepared a speech which was read at the Greek Week Awards Ceremony in April.

“The events of last year cannot and will not happen again,” Schroeder read. “On behalf of the CPC and IFC councils and the CPC and IFC chapter presidents, we are deeply sorry to all of those affected by last year’s events. We are sorry for any pain, sadness, isolation, frustration or fear of safety that we caused. This year has to be different. Every day has to be different. Every action must be different. We are committed to ending racism and intolerance of all those who are marginalized in our sorority and fraternity community and our campus.”

During other parts of the speech, Choate and Scott read about the history of their councils. The presidents felt it necessary to educate the community on the councils and their traditions.

“At [Greek Week Awards] two years ago, a lot of [the issue] was people not understanding the significance of our calls and different [traditions],” Choate said. “We chose to start [the speech] by educating them first… and I think that opened up the discussion more.”

While education is important, the presidents also stressed chapters must put forth the effort and be willing to learn. Scott described an experience she had during Greek Week last year, when the CPC and IFC chapters in her pairing welcomed her chapter with open arms.

“People [in my pairing] were really adamant in asking how something should be said,” Scott said. “They were really inclusive and made sure to include the ‘Sorority, Inc.’ in anything that was published. They were really really good at making sure we knew what was going on like inviting us to the practices and events. And I think this [inclusivity] translated as a whole throughout other organizations as well.”

This year, CPC, MGC and NPHC hosted the first annual Sorority Showcase Tour. This tour consisted of multiple events held in Ames, Des Moines and Minneapolis which educated prospective members on sororities at Iowa State and how to join. The tour was created as a replacement for “Greek Visit Day,” which excluded MGC and NPHC participation. 

While the tour was originally created by CPC, Lawler said the decision to invite MGC and NPHC sororities on the tour was an easy one. Lawler and her council realized there are two other Greek councils at Iowa State with sororities, and they should be a part of the Sorority Showcase Tour.

The presidents continue to encourage chapters to collaborate across councils and educate their members. Collaboration efforts could be anything from hosting a social event with another chapter or attending events held by other chapters to show support.

The presidents believe it is important to get to know one another as individuals and learn about other chapters through friendship.

“The first time I came in here, I didn’t know much about either NPHC or MGC,” Schroeder said. “I started listening and understanding what they do and what their organizations are all about. I brought [what I learned] to my council because a lot of our chapters wanted to collaborate. The biggest thing that I had to push in front of them was education and then collaboration. Because while collaboration is great, if a collaboration event doesn’t go well then it can distance that relationship even more.”

Another collaboration event spearheaded by the presidents will take place this month. On Sunday, Oct. 21, the parents of hazing victims Tim Piazza, Max Gruver and Marquise Braham, will headline the Anti-Hazing Coalition. This event is open to all Iowa State students and will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in CY Stephens Auditorium. 

The four presidents agreed they hope their friendship, and the growth the community has made during their term will set an example for future executive teams. Elections for the new councils take place within the next couple months, and the elected presidents will start their terms at the start of the spring semester.

“I’m really proud of our four council presidents because I think they’ve taken [relationship-building] to heart, with each other, and they show up and support each other and check up on each other,” said Billy Boulden, assistant dean of students and director of sorority and fraternity engagement.

The presidents know there is still a lot of work to do, but believe the councils have made immense progress. 

“I would say in general we have definitely taken a step in the right direction,” Choate said. “But this isn’t just a choice you make once and that’s it. It’s a choice that has to continue to be made.”

Editor’s note: Contributing author Willa Colville is a member of an Iowa State sorority.