Greek Leadership Retreat builds relationships, unifies councils

IFC, NPHC and PHA plan to participate in more cross-council programming this year.
The Greek Life councils gather in Memorial Union during the Greek Life retreat Jan 22. The Greek Life councils are made up of the Panhellenic Association, Interfraternity Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council.

Through team-building activities, skits and even bowling, 72-newly elected Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council and Panhellenic Association chapter presidents and executive board members bonded at the Greek Leadership Retreat.

Held annually the first weekend of second semester by the Office of Greek Life, the three-day event intends to familiarize Greek Life leaders with each other and different aspects of the community.

"The curriculum, for the most part, changes," Senior Coordinator of Greek Life Julie Drury said. "It ebbs and flows with issues in the community. This year, I think the focus was definitely on building relationships within the community and that community aspect."

The Greek Leadership Retreat is the only event where all chapter presidents and executive board members meet. The three council presidents converse monthly, and executive board members meet informally while working in the Office of Greek Life. Drury said the office is going to make an effort to hold quarterly meetings with the three executive boards.

The retreat has been held out of town in past years, but all events took place at MU this year.

The weekend began at 5 p.m. Friday in Stotler Lounge in Memorial Union with welcome and team-building activities followed by a dinner and bowling.

"Bowling alleys allow a lot of time for conversation," IFC spokesman Jon Strope said. "Being on the first night, we could get to know each other so we could open up in activities over the next few days."

The retreat resumed at 9 a.m. Saturday in Chamber Auditorium in the MU Student Center. After discussing the relationship between the Office of Greek Life and the chapter presidents and executive boards, attendees began diversity training.

NPHC President Antaniece Sills said she thought the "Crossing the Line" activity, in which members had to cross a line if statements were true, impacted many.

"It allowed everyone to see some similarities and differences we all have," Sills said. "Despite what the councils represent, we do have a lot of similarities and few differences from each other."

Drury said participants then discussed their new roles in value-based organizations, debated whether Greek Life is still relevant on college campuses and discussed why stereotypes of the community exist. After having these conversations, they planned actions and set goals for the Greek Life community.

"Having each chapter's input will be vital to making these goals a reality," PHA spokeswoman Alyssa Goodman said in an email.

Seven groups performed skits based on concepts they had learned during the retreat Saturday evening. Performances also contained strolling, moving lines NPHC chapters form to express chapter unity.

"I enjoyed taking part in trying to learn it," Goodman said. "I was impressed how good (NPHC members) were and how open everyone was to trying it."

The retreat concluded Sunday morning in Stotler Lounge with a final group discussion.

"By the end of the retreat, we were a cohesive group sharing many of the same goals for our organizations," Goodman said. "As the days progressed, we dug deeper into the meaning of being a member of Greek Life, (and) our goals and responsibilities as Greek leaders on this campus."

Following the final discussion, council advisers met with the three executive boards together, then separately to discuss future events and community goals.

Strope said after working with NPHC this weekend, the three councils plan to participate in more cross-council programming than in previous years.

"Knowing what (we) know now (about NPHC), we definitely want to bring all three councils together and have a closer Greek community," Strope said.

Goodman said the retreat helped her reaffirm her passion for Greek Life and get excited for her new position.

"This will be a very valuable experience and one I know I will personally remember as a highlight of my college experience," Goodman said.

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