-By Amanda Graham
In Spring 1982 the first local sorority, Chi Delta Epsilon, and local fraternity, Alpha Gamma Omega, were founded at FIU. In April 1984, the first Greek Council meeting was held and nearly a year later, the first Greek Week took place on campus. Twenty-one years later, Student Affairs’ Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life now has 36 chapters within the four greek councils. Newly appointed Associate Director for Sorority and Fraternity Life Christianne Medrano is seeking to further grow Greek life on campus. FIU News sat down with Medrano, who is also the president for the National Multicultural Greek Council, to learn about her plans.
1. How much has sorority and fraternity life grown in the past 5 years?
Our Interfraternity Council has brought in three fraternities: Zeta Beta Tau, chartered in 2015; Delta Sigma Phi, Fall 2015; and Delta Upsilon, Spring 2016. Our Panhellenic Council has also added a new chapter in the past year, Alpha Chi Omega. The PC community will be looking to establish an exploratory committee to consider the extension of other National Panhellenic Council Sororities in the future. Our Multicultural Greek Council has also seen a successful expansion with the arrival of Omega Phi Beta Sorority. Lastly, we welcomed back two NPC organizations that have had revival lines, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, in Spring 2015. Our community is definitely thriving and growing and the demand is there!
2. What changes do you want to make for the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life?
Our SFL office is now fully staffed to be able to give the community the attention it needs and deserves. We will be conducting community assessment initiatives throughout the semester to be able to strategically decide what programs need immediate revamping. We want to understand the different needs of each organization and work collaboratively to reflect a unified fraternal family that stands by its values within our four Greek Councils. These values are based on each individual organization’s standards that include philanthropy, service, leadership development, scholarship and academic achievement – and brotherhood and sisterhood.
3. What are your plans to grow sorority and fraternity life on campus?
Our plans include working with our existing organizations to work on their marketing and branding as well as recruitment strategies. We want to make sure our existing organizations succeed in their recruitment processes and increase in membership size. In addition to that, we will meet with new organizations that fall in line with our standards to join our community. We also want to encourage fraternities and sororities to recruit at the Biscayne Bay Campus and the Engineering Center where there are many students who are interested in fraternity and sorority life. We are working with IFC, PC, MGC, and NPHC to be more engaged in recruitment and select the best and brightest at FIU. We are seeking individuals who have the potential to be leaders, game changers and scholars.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenges to SFL at FIU?
One of the biggest challenges for the SFL community at FIU is that we have students who live all over South Florida with many responsibilities outside of being a college student. Although this dynamic has been changing over the years, we still have a lot of students who want to be involved on campus but don’t know how, or they have other obligations that prevent them from doing so.
5. What are your plans for accommodating space for growing sorority and fraternity life?
It is very evident our community has outgrown the space the university can provide for chapter meetings. Because of this, we have moved chapter meeting times to Sundays when there is a lot more open space for organizations. We are looking at using BBC for meeting locations as well. Although it can be a long commute, BBC has gorgeous facilities and recreational opportunities to encourage students to fellowship either before or after their business meetings.
6. Many students express interest in joining SFL but find the costs to be limiting. Are there any plans to increase scholarships or make it more affordable?
Becoming a member of a fraternity or sorority does not have to be financially limiting. There are organizations that provide scholarships for members and plenty of fundraising opportunities to help cover costs. We try to highlight scholarships that are available for our members, or even for non-affiliated members, such as Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Balanced Man Scholarship. Other notable scholarships include Tau Kappa Epsilon’s James Noel Triangle Achievement Scholarship, the Interfraternity Council Scholarships and the Panhellenic Council scholarship for women. Many people think when joining a fraternity or sorority you are “buying” your friends, but in reality, you are contributing to your organization’s annual programming initiatives. These include leadership workshops, philanthropic events, service learning opportunities and social events. Therefore, the money is going to opportunities for you to build both personal and professional development skills.