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Students seek to unite four Greek committees

By Liana Rosenbloom, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 25, 2012

As students in Greek Life recently began discussions on an initiative to unite the community’s four councils, their plan has been met with trepidation by other Greek community leaders.

The students are a part of the Campaign to Integrate Greek Life, which had its third meeting last Tuesday. The Greek community is divided into four councils — Panhellenic Association, Interfraternity Council, Multicultural Greek Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Leaders of the campaign are rallying for more cooperation and communication between the four groups, which they say are extremely divided under the current system.

LSA junior Kinnard Hockenhull, president of the Psi Upsilon fraternity, which is an IFC chapter, is largely responsible for spearheading the campaign. He said the University’s Greek community is unnecessarily divided.

“It’s really not one community,” Hockenhull said. “On a very basic level, one of the goals we had was to start a conversation about the nature of our community.”

Beyond increased interaction among the executive boards of the four councils, Hockenhull said he would like to see more communication among members of Greek community in general.

“I think it’s odd that we consider ourselves to be one community, but we never have all the (presidents) of this community come together in the same room, sit across the table and have a conversation,” Hockenhull said.

Engineering junior Emily Desanti, president of the Panhellenic Assocation, released a statement to The Michigan Daily yesterday on behalf of the presidents of all four councils regarding the campaign, expressing that they are currently unsure of the effort’s plans and are interested to see what it has to offer.

“At the moment, the intentions of the Unified Greek Council are not clear to us,” the statement said. “Increased cohesiveness between the four councils is a goal we all share and we look forward to meeting with the leaders of this campaign in order to learn more about what inspired their movement, what they want to achieve, how they plan on carrying out this endeavor, and if there is anything that our councils could do to assist them.”

Still, in an e-mail to Panhellenic Association sorority presidents on March 15, DeSanti warned Greek leadership against having Hockenhull speak with sorority members, noting that due to their membership within the National Panhellenic Conference, they are unable to break away from the organization.

“Some of you may have received an e-mail from Kinnard Hockenhull, the president of Psi Upsilon about his platform to unify the four Greek councils,” she wrote. “I would strongly advise against allowing him to speak to your chapters.”

Despite the dissension, Hockenhull said he feels the Greek community could have great potential if the four councils collaborated more frequently.

“At Michigan, we have great diversity, but it’s sort of locked up in these camps,” he said. “There’s incredible potential when you release it and allow people to connect, free of these barriers.”

According to Hockenhull, the campaign’s meetings have included discussions about the history of the Greek community, analysis of the system’s current structure and the leaders’ visions for the community in the future. He added that last week, individuals began to take leading roles as they worked toward composing an actual plan.

Hockenhull said conversations about the past and future are key in order to achieve an understanding of what the campaign envisions for the Greek community.

“It’s not something that any one person in power can implement,” he said. “It’s not really about whether a few kids get together and have meetings every few months. It’s really about ‘are we really connecting to each other as a community?’”

Hockenhull said he is happy with the response the campaign has received and the quality of ideas, noting that attendance at the meetings hasn’t been reflective of the widespread response to the initiative.

“I think the response has been very good and broad, which, I think, is the most important thing, and it has been from a lot of different parts of the community, beyond Greek Life as well,” Hockenhull said. “I think this is a natural progression and a positive progression.”

Though the campaign leaders have not presented any official proposals to the executive members of the four councils, they are planning to meet with the presidents soon, Hockenhull said.

LSA sophomore Sara Berke — a member of the Chi Omega sorority, which is a part of the Panhellenic Association — said she was contacted by Hockenhull to help spread the word about the campaign.

“We’re not asking organizations to leave their councils; that’s not what we’re trying to do at all,” Berke said. “We just want there to be a community sense between the councils.”