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The BiCultural Inter-Greek Council -- the umbrella organization for Penn's traditionally African-American, Asian, and Latino fraternities and sororities -- voted to approve its portion of the Program for Excellence on Wednesday.

The plan was written by the BIG-C's six-member board, lead by President and Zeta Phi Beta sister Tia Rideout. Its release next week will mark the completion of a three-part strategic plan designed to create a set of uniform standards for members of Penn's Greek system.

The InterFraternity and Panhellenic Councils both released their portions of the plan in December.

The 2001 Program for Excellence will replace the 21st Century Report for an Ivy League Greek System, which was released in 1996 and has since been used as a model for fraternity and sorority governance at universities throughout the country.

According to BIG-C Program Coordinator Larry Moses, the BIG-C's portion of the new plan reflects the expansion of the council and the changes that it has made over the past five years.

"We've evolved," Moses said. "The BIG-C now is... in much more of a positive and viable position. We are truly in a position to implement the collaboration between the IFC and Panhel."

Moses added that the BIG-C has significantly increased its presence on Penn's campus and said that when the former plan was written, "We weren't as connected or visible as we are now."

Rideout echoed this idea, explaining that the BIG-C does not "have the same needs and wants" as it did when the original plan was implemented.

"We're trying to refocus as an organization... in terms of our goal and our purpose," she added.

The four-page plan, which has been in the works since last November, consists of several sections -- including those focusing on academic standards, community service and alumni relations -- and outlines a wide range of goals set for the BIG-C as a whole.

Moses said that the plan aims "to keep academics in the forefront," and includes a minimum grade point average requirement of 2.5 for all chapter members. It also stresses community service as a primary goal for the organization.

BIG-C Vice President Weldon McMillan said that although the new plan does not make any major changes in the organization's policies and has mainly been updated to include a wider range of programs and events -- including those held to increase racial harmony -- in which the council is now involved.

The plan was also expanded to include two additional BIG-C chapters -- Sigma Gamma Rho, an African-American sorority, and Lambda Phi Epsilon, an Asian fraternity that came to Penn's campus last semester.

McMillan stressed that although the plan cannot include every new initiative, it does provide a very comprehensive update.

Rideout added that the plan was also written "to highlight our potential and show that we're on campus."

McMillan agreed, explaining that the new strategic plan provides a way for members of Penn's campus to get an idea of what the BIG-C actually does. He added that it also works as a self-evaluative measure.

Rideout said that while the IFC and Panhellenic Council's portions of the program are very structured and stipulate specific academic and community service requirements, the BIG-C's part focuses on strengthening relations between chapters.

The Program for Excellence "reminds us that we need to... stay involved with each other," said Chris Padilla, BIG-C treasurer and La Unidad Latina brother. "It allows us to understand each other a little better."

Rideout agreed, explaining that "since our numbers are smaller... we don't mandate things as much as Panhel and the IFC."

Specific regulations for BIG-C members, such as recruitment and judicial issues, are primarily dealt with on an individual chapter basis, and are not stressed in the Program for Excellence.

Student leaders of the BIG-C, the InterFraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council will discuss the integration and implementation of the Program for Excellence at the University Council meeting on Wednesday.

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