Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Monica Miranda Smalls addressed some key topics in Greek life, from the new sorority to hazing, and discussed her future role in the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors.
One of the major upcoming changes that is being discussed is the addition of a new sorority. How do you think this might affect sorority life, and what is the status of the initiative?
The new sorority] would be a seventh sorority within the Panhellenic Association, and a 14th for the campus. The Panhellenic Association is at a point where they have an average chapter size in the spring semester of 71. When we ran the numbers during their recruitment, we found that we may be looking at 100 in three years.
Those chapter sizes are way too big for the chapters. They don’t want to be that big. They want to hold onto some of the intimacy of having a small chapter. A good chapter size for them is 50. In order to do that, we need to bring in another sorority for the Panhellenic Association, so that the other women [who] want to join that particular sorority community have an opportunity to do so, while still maintaining the small chapter size.
Yesterday we actually met as a committee. We had 11 of the 20 possible organizations that would have applied apply. We have selected three organizations and invited them to present to the Fraternity and Sorority Management Committee, as well as the Panhellenic Association itself, in March. The Panhellenic Association will then select one of those three.
What is the Expectations for Excellence program?
Expectations for Excellence is the College’s way of recognizing and offering the opportunity for fraternities and sororities to set goals, plan and document their programs and then evaluate themselves.
Prior to Expectations for Excellence, there was the sense that it wasn’t really clear what the University wanted of fraternities and sororities. We wanted to clarify that, while also providing them an opportunity to showcase what they do, and to let everybody know what is going on and what the great things that they’re doing are, because we know they can be successful. Expectations for Excellence [consists of] five categories scholarship, community building and leadership, programming, non-academic student conduct, and organizational management the chapters decide how they’re going to fulfill those.
There is an annual fraternity and sorority achievement reception that we host every April, and at that reception those organizations that have been accredited are able to participate and nominate themselves, or be nominated by others and potentially selected for awards.
One of the more controversial topics of Greek life is the issue of hazing in fraternities or sororities. What kind of steps do you take to enforce UR’s anti-hazing policies?
One of the things that we have implemented in the last couple years is a new member orientation. Every new member of every new organization has to attend a three-hour program, and that program will include a presentation on potential risks and also benefits of being in a fraternity or sorority. [New members] also receive the UR guide to fraternities and sororities, which has the anti-hazing policy right in there.
When it comes to the chapters, just on Feb. 6 there was a Greater Rochester Fraternal Leadership Summit. This year we had a huge focus on anti-hazing education and hazing prevention. We had one group of students just participate in a hazing prevention program called ‘Crossing the Line” to learn about hazing prevention.
We’re just starting the new member programs this semester, so we haven’t had any problems yet, knock on wood. But we have in the past had issues that we have addressed through the disciplinary process that have involved chapters, some that are currently here and some that are not.
You were recently elected president-elect of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA). Once you assume that role, what would your new responsibilities be?
I’ve actually already assumed the role of president-elect at this point. It is a three year term, where I’m president elect in 2010, president in 2011 and past-president in 2012. There are very specific responsibilities for each of those years. As president-elect, my main responsibility is to serve as a liaison to inter-fraternal partner organizations and other higher education associations.
As president, I will then oversee anything and everything about the organization. At that point I will also supervise the staff at the central office of AFA. As past-president, I oversee the strategic plan, and then I also lead the nominations and elections process for the incoming leadership of the association. Throughout all three years, I will work on strategic planning initiatives, and I will work on any organizational initiatives that need board approval or board feedback.
Anything else you’d like to make known?
Our goal is to have students that continue to promote the values of their organization. Those that are interested in enacting values-based, driven organizations are definitely continuously welcomed into the community. These are the kind of students that we know we have at the University, and we look forward to continuing to welcome them into fraternities and sororities every year. It’s about the values.
Fleming is a member of the class of 2013.