The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Hello, my name is Panhellenic…

Hello, my name is Panhellenic...

I joined the Panhellenic Executive Board in the fall of 2005 as Coordinator of Publications. In the beginning, when someone would mention Panhellenic, I would say, “Hey, I just write the Panhellenic Press.” But after a semester and a half of attending two meetings a week, weekly one-on-ones with our advisor and any other Panhellenic events necessary it finally hit me; I finally got “it.”

Before, I saw Panhellenic as this distant ruling body that had nothing to do with me except when a new rule arose causing me to relearn some time-old tradition that I had spent countless hours memorizing meticulously. I could never see past the direct effect a change had on me, because that was all I could see. Panhellenic sees these effects, but it also sees the whole picture-the entire SMU Panhellenic community of all eight sororities interacting. That Greek family is exactly what Panhellenic wants to genuinely cultivate into a vital, welcoming, loving, nurturing and mutually beneficial outlet for all sorority women to lead and grow within.

After reading recent articles from campus publications however, I feel like this Panhellenic ideal is the farthest thing from the general member’s mind these days. Therefore, I want to clarify a few points that might not be getting through. Panhellenic-the largest student organization on campus-includes more than 900 women from all eight sororities on campus. Each chapter elects a Panhellenic delegate and junior Panhellenic delegate who accompany their chapter Presidents and alumnae advisors to Panhellenic Council held weekly.

Council is run by the 12 Panhellenic Executive Board officers. Those 12 officers are regular sorority women. Serving to promote and maintain fraternity life and inter-fraternity relations, the executive board also runs Panhellenic-organized events. Any and every change made to the Panhellenic By-laws emerges as a direct result of the delegates’ vote-not Panhellenic’s. Anyone in Panhellenic may propose a change to current rules, but nothing changes without majority vote from chapter delegates who represent all general members, including Panhellenic executive.

In essence, the Panhellenic system’s power derives from the chapters’ vote. The executive board can facilitate and encourage change, but only the chapters can actually enable it. The only power I as an executive board officer hold is the ability to choose the Panhellenic Press’ content. Last time I checked, the Panhellenic Press never caused an epidemic or monumental transition, unless you include informing others of upcoming events using stylish layouts.

Panhellenic as a governing body lacks all-encompassing power but bridges that gap with fundamental responsibilities to continually evaluate and improve the current system, be cognizant of each sorority’s well-being and always separate personal loyalties from our commitment to the whole. One enormous part of our system that requires constant scrutiny is recruitment. Panhellenic wants to give every potential new member the opportunity to decide on their own accord which sorority they feel most comfortable in. To actually create an equal playing field, Panhellenic relaxed several recruitment rules.

Now first-years and sorority women can eat at the same table at all campus food establishments, they can study together at any of SMU’s libraries and can even ride together for SMU-sponsored club events. As any sorority woman can tell you, these are not the pressing Panhellenic issues du jour. Panhellenic Preview and Facebook are.

Since SMU Recruitment operates in the spring, in actuality no organized recruitment events should exist in the fall. Yet SMU graciously allows Panhellenic one-Panhellenic Preview. It did not take a genius to realize our system needed help. National help to be exact. At the beginning of this semester, a National representative from every chapter met to discuss how best to precede with 2007 Recruitment, and the revised Panhellenic Preview was born. This new process contradicts every previous attitude previously held regarding SMU recruitment.

You might be asking yourself by now: “If it isn’t broken, why fix it?” Well, our system is broken and Panhellenic wants to alleviate the problem. If one sorority is struggling, every sorority is struggling. Currently SMU houses eight sororities, but it used to house 15. Why is that? Naturally this complex scenario involves a multi-faceted answer and the one I am most concerned with is “dirty rushing.”

Even as a senior I can still vividly recall the feeling I had when a sorority woman somberly told me on pref night, “I will see you here tomorrow.” This was not the case. Luckily, I equally loved both of my options and went with my second choice becoming one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

This unexpected experience only strengthens my conviction in giving every sorority a fair shot. This will never happen if first-years believe they must be in sorority XYZ or nothing at all, causing them to drop out if they are cut by that chapter. This is where the problem lies. Without adequate membership, a sorority cannot survive and inevitably must leave the campus. There used to be 15 chapters and now there are eight.

The beauty in the revamped Panhellenic Preview rests in its message: “Go Greek!” Sorority women may chant in different houses this Sunday but they will still proudly don their Greek letters on their nametag and leave the potential new members with a sense of what a sorority has to offer. The only difference is that, for this one event, Panhellenic pulled back the scope one notch to fully encompass the entire Greek community.

Just as the case in all other changes to the recruitment process, Panhellenic did not create the new Facebook infraction punishment. During a recent Panhellenic Presidents’ Roundtable discussion, all eight chapter Presidents brainstormed and together devised the blanket punishment of freezing the guilty party’s Facebook profile until formal recruitment bid day-January 15.

Voting unanimously, the new sanction stands and is each chapter President’s responsibility to enforce after a complaint is filed. If you disagree with the new process (or with any other in Panhellenic), write a proposal. Your idea may not pass, but then again it might produce a more appropriate ruling.

Risks and tensions understandably go hand in hand with change. But more than anything, an unwillingness to accept the risk to further the organization’s goals will prove most detrimental.

When asked about his thoughts on change, former United States President John F. Kennedy replied, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Personally, I don’t want to miss the future because I think it holds an immense amount of potential for greatness. It took me a long time to fully understand the depths of Panhellenic but with that realization, gratitude, appreciation and humbleness followed.

Hello, my name is Panhellenic.

About the writer:

Perrin White is a senior CCPA and History double major. She can be reached at [email protected].

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