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Photo: Julio Sosa

While administrators set up incentive programs to help second-year students beat the "sophomore slump," Greek leaders push forward with a program to inspire leadership among sophomores. 

Now in its second year, the Sophomore Leadership Program hopes to provide a "more defined experience" and curriculum this semester, said Eddie Banks-Crosson, the director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. Last year, the program included a TED Talk held by OFSL with a followup event for students to discuss leadership values. 

The various chapters of Greek organizations are planning a formalized partnership between sophomores in Greek institutions and Greek leaders, said College senior Caroline Kane, who is OFSL's vice president of public relations as well as the executive vice president of the Order of Omega, Penn's Greek leadership society.

Kane, who is a member of Alpha Phi, added that the program will likely span five weeks. Members of the Order of Omega will serve as mentors to the sophomore participants who will discuss different tenets of leadership and character during their weekly meetings. The program may include a mixture of intimate conversations, guest lecturers and TED Talks. 

She also said the program will have an application process. Though the number participants has not yet been determined, she said that she hopes the program will be “as inclusive as possible.” 

College junior and Phi Gamma Delta member Noah Gelles earned the Rising Leader Award as part of this program last spring.

“When thinking of leaders, most people only focus on presidents or the top of the ladder. I think it’s good to recognize young people that can make a difference and are less static,” Gelles said.

Kane said that she believes the program will help sophomores during a transitionary period in their Greek experiences since students in fraternities and sororities can hold leadership positions on their chapters’ executive boards starting from their sophomore and junior years. 

Kane said that when she served as recruitment chair for her sorority during her sophomore year, she experienced a lot of “trial and error” in organizing events and she relied on an older friend in a sorority for “valuable information-sharing." She added that she hopes to make that kind of mentorship relationship more formalized.

“The content we are trying to convey to sophomores would have been great to hear upfront,” Kane said.  

Both Kane and Gelles think that a fraternity or a sorority is a good place to develop leadership skills. 

“Greek life is a microcosm of what it’s like to be a productive member of society, or even run a company,” Kane said. “[In Greek life] you deal with real-life issues, like diversity and inclusion, as well as making sure that your actions are reflective of your values.”

She also said, since many members of the Greek community are active in other areas at Penn, leadership skills fostered in Greek life can be applied elsewhere in the University, and beyond. 

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