Sorority and fraternity leaders work towards unity after AFLV conference


Kylie Kost/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State hosted their 65th annual Greek Week. Greek Week helps raise money for the community while Greek members partake in different activities. 

Mikaila Gondreau

More than 60 Iowa State students attended the largest gathering of undergraduate fraternity and sorority leaders in the country on Feb.8-11 to discuss how to make positive and progressive changes within the greek community.

Leaders from the Interfraternity Council (IFC), Collegiate Panhellenic Council (CPC), Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) were present at the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values (AFLV) Central conference. The Iowa State sorority and fraternity community were the second largest delegation at the conference. MGC, NPHC and IFC all received categorical awards at the conference. CPC and IFC received the Sutherland and Jellison Awards, respectively.

Student leaders had the opportunity to hear from esteemed keynote speakers, including former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. They were able to experience breakout sessions which tackled pertinent issues such as risk management, social justice, sexual harassment, social media and leadership skills.

AFLV is dedicated to creating systemic change and accelerating progress in sorority and fraternity communities through inclusive and accessible experiences. For student leaders like Abbey Holscher, chapter president of Delta Delta Delta, these experiences are of great importance.

“We know that change needs to happen,” Holscher said. “But these conferences give us the tools to make it happen.”

Holscher said much of the needed change lies within the cultural tendencies at Iowa State. 

“We don’t have enough knowledge of each other’s councils, so no one really takes the time to ask questions,” Holscher said. “It’s not anything that’s going to happen in like a week or even a year. It’s more of a thing that needs to just happen over a long period of time. It’s a slow process.”

The lack of community between each of the Greek councils has been an ongoing struggle for some time. According to the Iowa State Greek Community Strategic Plan for 2010-15, goals were put in place for fraternity and sorority members to “learn about and incorporate diversity into programming, practices and the Greek Community life” and “learn about appropriate language and inclusivity.” 

However, during an incident that took place during the annual Vespers awards celebration in April of 2017, some sorority and fraternity members failed to do so by shouting out racially charged insults to members of MGC and NPHC. The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement came back with a statement apologizing to MGC and NPHC.

“We recognize that we cannot erase the pain caused by the events experienced at Vespers,” the statement read. “We acknowledge that Vespers was a public display of the systemic issues that have been occurring in the community for some time now. We also recognize that what happened at Vespers reveals that there is more work to be done to align the Greek community with our own core values and the University’s strategic goal to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive campus. We are committed to doing everything we can do better.”

According to the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan developed by the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement, there are objectives in place to establish a diversity committee to explore the needs of the sorority and fraternity community.

According to Hannah Noble, vice president of public relations for CPC, this is where events like the AFLV Central conference come into play.

“The one thing we wanted to do was work on more collaboration with all four of our councils because we know that’s something we can improve upon,” Noble said.

Noble said since they’ve arrived back from the conference, counterparts between the four councils have held workshops to talk and build connections with each other. This spring, the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement will offer a class exclusively to members of the greek community called Dialogues on Diversity. Through this class, students will get to explore diversity within the context of Iowa State and understand human relations issues. 

Along with mending relationships between the sorority and fraternity councils, Holscher said she can recognize the divide between greek and non-greek students. In order to bring about systemic change at Iowa State, Holscher said she feels it will take a unified team effort.

“We need the people that aren’t in the greek community and the people that are in the greek community to get on the same page and realize that there isn’t a divide and we’re all one team together,” Holscher said. “And I think if we can’t get rid of that border, we won’t move forward.”

Through continued leadership and community efforts, Holscher  said she believes continued changes and progressiveness can and will happen within the sorority and fraternity community.

“We can’t just sit back and let someone else fix it,” Holscher said. “We have to fix it now.”