Aug 292005
Authors: Lindsay Reiter

In the wake of an alcohol-related death in a debunked fraternity house, the Greek community is trying to distance itself from stereotypes of crazy parties and wild nights like those depicted in the movie "Animal House."

"We're at a point where the Greek system will either sink or swim and we've made a commitment to swim," said Brandon Baines , president of Phi Delta Theta and a senior restaurant and resort management major.

This semester, after a barrage of negative press following last year's alcohol-related death of CSU sophomore Samantha Spady at the Sigma Pi fraternity house, the Greek community has committed itself to changing the general public's conception of fraternities and sororities at CSU

Mark Koepsell, director of Greek Life , has been working to keep the Greek system afloat.

"The process of recruitment is the same, but the message we're sending out has changed," he said. "We are trying to get the message out that the Greek community is broad and diverse."

One way they are accomplishing this is through the "I Am" ad campaign, which depicts members of sororities and fraternities as multi-faceted.

"There are black-and-white posters all over campus of 16 different people from a sorority or fraternity at CSU," Koepsell said. "They each look different and represent different beliefs, religions and ethnicities."

Kappa Kappa Gamma is one of the sororities focusing their energy on diversifying their chapter.

"We are reaching new women that usually wouldn't be interested or excited about joining a sorority," said Kappa Kappa Gamma member Kate Norek, a junior speech communications major. "Now they are here and wanting to know more about us."

Both sororities and fraternities saw an increase in the number of recruits this semester.

"There were 100 more women signed up for recruitment this year than one year ago," Koepsell said. "The men are harder to track until recruitment is over, but it looks like their recruitment is up about 80 percent."

The Greek community is participating in two different programs that may have contributed to the increased interest: the Seal of Approval program and live-in advisers in fraternity houses.

"All of the sororities and fraternities participate in the Seal of Approval program. Each chapter must meet a specified list of criteria to receive the seal. All of the sororities meet the requirements for the seal," said Koepsell. "And there is a clear difference between the fraternities that got the seal and those who didn't."

One of the other new programs implemented this year in three of the fraternity houses is that of a live-in adviser.

Phi Delta Theta, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon volunteered to participate in the pilot program.

"My job is to support the chapter in everything from programming and networking to leadership and risk management," said Keith Lopez, the Phi Delta Theta live-in adviser and a student affairs and higher education graduate student .

The live-in advisers are all graduate students at CSU who were selected by the men of the chapter through an interview process.

Lopez described the men of Phi Delta Theta as welcoming and receptive to his presence in their house.

"I've had the chance to meet guys who are making this a very positive experience for me," Lopez said. "My level of involvement is as involved as they want me to be. I'm not a fatherly figure in the house. I'm here more to support them."

As the live-in adviser, Lopez also helps the chapter educate new members on alcohol and substance abuse and make sure they are consistent with university standards.

As a result of some of the new changes and the fact that all fraternities and sororities now have dry houses, many members have noticed a change in the attitude of the new recruits.

"The whole fraternity system at CSU has realized that recruitment now has to be based on leadership, academics and principles. That's the only way we are going to get guys into the Greek system now," said David Higgins, president of Beta Theta Pi and a senior biochemistry major . "The typical 'Animal House' mentality is gone. We've seen a different type of guy coming out who cares about academics, has principles and wants to be a leader."

Women in sororities are also striving to break the stereotype held against them.

"The women who are in a sorority now are willing to show everyone what it's all about and prove the stereotype wrong. Many of the women who are leaders in their chapters never saw themselves as sorority members until they actually joined one," said Liz Schleicher , president of the Panhellenic Council and a senior marketing major.

Fraternity and sorority members are focusing not only on individual chapters, but on the Greek community as a whole.

"Greek life has come so far since Samantha Spady's death. We support each other so much more now," Norek said. "It's not all about the individual chapters. We want you to find a place somewhere in the Greek community, even if it's not with us."

Although formal recruitment ends this week, both sororities and fraternities offer the opportunity to join throughout the year.

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