Student Life looks for new funding source following failed Greek fee

Only three people will oversee the Greek community next year.

When Director of Student Life Mark Lucas proposed a $39 fee on members of Greek life in February, he believed interim Chancellor Hank Foley would approve it. Instead, Lucas said he received an email from Foley in April that said only five words: “The Greek fee is dead.”

Had it been implemented, the fee would have funded additional staff in the Office of Greek Life, which has only two full-time employees. MU’s Greek community, which consists of 58 chapters and more than a quarter of the student population, needs five to seven full-time staff members in the Office of Greek Life in order to be successful, Lucas said.

Lucas used to assign employees from other Student Life offices to work with Greek Life, but trying to balance those responsibilities with their other jobs stretched them too thin. The Office of Greek Life will fund one full-time staff position and a graduate assistant next year. The Department of Student Life will use cost dollars, one-time funds left over at the end of a fiscal year, to sustain two other full-time positions for the next year in order to avoid having staff in other offices work in Greek Life.

Student Life Business Manager Chris Provorse said in an email that cost dollars can only be spent once and not as a consistent annual salary, so the Department of Student Life can only fund the two positions for a year.

One position will be in the Office of Greek Life and the other will be in the Center for Leadership and Service. Kathleen Duffy, a coordinator in the Center for Leadership and Service, will fill the Greek Life position next year, and cost dollars will fund Duffy’s current position.

After the 2016–17 academic year, Lucas said MU Greek Life’s future is more uncertain.

“Our new tagline [is that] we must find a sustainable funding model for our Greek community,” he said.

Lucas listed the UM System, alumni, Greek chapter headquarters and donors as possible funding alternatives. Provorse agreed that these are all reasonable options. Campus and system funding sources are limited because of sizable decreases in enrollment and state funding cuts.

“I can’t speak to the likelihood of external sources of funding, although I can say that the university is in the midst of a large fundraising campaign, which may attract donor interest,” Provorse said, referring to the Mizzou: Our Time to Lead campaign to obtain more permanent university funding.

Interfraternity Council spokesman Jacob Farkas said the fraternity presidents could vote to increase IFC’s dues per member if they felt they needed more staff support. Duffy said alumni would be a good option to explore as a source of funding, and Panhellenic Association spokeswoman Camille Patton agreed.

“They’re able to separate themselves from the college experience now, and they want to see the Greek Life legacy carrying on,” Patton said. “They’re more invested in it sometimes, I think, than the people who are currently in Greek Life.”

Fraternity leadership educator Jonathan Rummel, who will hold the Greek Life position funded by cost dollars next year, thinks the fee could be revisited.

“I feel if we approach the discussion about the fee differently, we may come to a different conclusion,” he said in an email. “To do this, we must do better about engaging our stakeholders (students, alumni, etc.) in the conversation.”

Lucas said he does not care where the money comes from as long as the Department of Student Life has it before fall 2017. On April 20, he said, he met with Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs to balance the 2016–17 Student Life budget, and she asked him how he planned to balance the 2017–18 budget.

Without set funding for Greek Life, all he could say was: “I have no idea.”

Edited by Kyra Haas |

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