The new Fraternity and Sorority System at UR was awarded the Grand Bronze Excellence Award by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. The third place award was in the Student Union, Student Activities, Greek Life, Leadership category and will be presented to the University in April. In the opinion of many Greek Life leaders on campus, the award stems directly from the new Fraternity and Sorority System that was implemented in the 2004-05 academic year.
The variety of criteria by which students were judged shows how the new system has improved UR in a number of areas. Judges made their decisions based on the level of positive impact of student learning, relevance to institutional mission and originality and creativity.
The new system was a result of the findings of the Committee to Review Fraternities and Sororities. The committee was composed of student leaders and various faculty and alumni.
The committee, established in 2003, set out to create system that would be viable with the rest of the college. They began by reviewing the history and background of Greek Life, then spoke with various fraternity and sorority leaders around campus to work out a system that supports leadership and responsibility and connects the fraternities and sororities with other areas of the University. Upon the conclusion of their research, the committee proposed their plan in April, 2004.
The Expectations for Excellence Program is the centerpiece of the new system. Its intention is to create a model of accountability so students can set goals and measure their success.
“We have had great success this year with chapters realizing their stated goals within their Expectations for Excellence plans and some even surpassing them,” Monica Miranda-Smalls, Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, said. “The goal of creating College-centered fraternities and sororities has been successfully demonstrated with chapters assisting with the coordination and implementation of The College’s Yellowjacket Weekend, as well as chapters who have co-sponsored a number of Wilson Commons and Student Activities Fashionably Late programs.”
Other faculty members are cautiously optimistic about the new program.
“We have just completed our inaugural year with this new system, so it is difficult to evaluate whether or not it is successful,” Matt Burns, Associate Dean of Students, said. “However, every early indication we have, from the number, type and quality of fraternity and sorority programming to the methods of internal accountability to the increased connection to and collaboration with components of the College, point to a high level of success.” Burns stressed that the new system was the impetus for UR receiving the award.
“The award has been given to the U of R because of the new system,” Burns said. “In fact, it is somewhat unusual for an award to be given to an entire system rather than an individual program, which only highlights how unique and exemplary our system is.”
The new system is not perfect, and Smalls insisted that it is open to improvement. Faculty members are going to be working with stakeholders, primarily students, to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the system and to determine where to make improvements.
“Assessment will be a key feature of ensuring the current foundation set for fraternity and sorority affairs takes root and is institutionalized,” Smalls said.
Besides the Expectations for Excellence Program, there are other programs that have contributed to the improved system. These include enhanced skill and leadership training, new member orientation and community service events to connect with the greater Rochester community.
The new system represents a successful effort by a number of different factions of campus leaders. Smalls emphasized that it would not have been possible without the collective commitment of people ranging from trustees to faculty, staff, student and alumni.
“Our fraternity and sorority system represents a wonderful example of what we can do when all components of the institution work together and when we all take the University’s motto seriously,” Burns said.
Wrobel is a member of the class of 2010.