With the start of sorority and fraternity rush ramping up this week, the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council, two student-run Greek councils, have elected new leadership for 2019.
Alpha Delta Pi sister and Wharton junior Claire Canestrino will serve as PHC president while Sigma Alpha Epsilon brother and College junior Brian Schmitt will be IFC president starting Jan. 20.
Schmitt said he hopes to work with the Penn administration to find alternatives to the new housing policy announced in September, which states that all sophomores must live in on-campus housing starting in 2021. Even though most fraternity and sorority houses are owned by the University and can be accessed with PennCards, the new policy says that fraternity and sorority houses are not considered “on-campus housing," which has caused concern within the Greek community.
“This creates enormous problems for us in terms of occupancy and monetary exclusivity, that will stem from losing a massive base of people that could potentially live in these properties,” Schmitt said. “We fear and feel that fraternities may end up collapsing because they will not be able to support themselves after losing out on the people that could live in these spaces.”
Schmitt believes the potential financial constraints could make Greek organizations less inclusive.
“We want a strong and healthy Greek life, because Greek life absolutely is not worth it if it’s not inclusive and healthy in a way that benefits the people involved in it,” Schmitt said.
Creating more unity within the Panhellenic sisterhood is a major focus for Canestrino, who added that she hopes to facilitate organization-wide events on campus.
“We all have our individual chapter sisterhoods and that’s really important to all of us,” Canestrino said, “but being able to utilize and benefit from the greater Panhellenic sisterhood as well will allow the whole Panhellenic community to rise up if we have a stronger unity.”
Schmitt and Canestrino both said they hope to improve the overall image of Greek life on campus and eliminate negative stereotypes.
“I also really want the campus at large to have a good understanding of what it means to be Greek, specifically what it means to be a Panhellenic woman,” Canestrino said. “I want to make sure people know exactly what we stand for, what we work towards, and all the really important things that this community does.”
Schmitt said he hopes to focus on the philanthropic and service aspects of fraternities during his tenure.
“Fraternities aren’t just the negative things that you read about them,” Schmitt said. “We are raising tens of thousands of dollars for charities every semester. We want to show the University that Greek life is worth having at this school because of the good aspects of it that people aren’t hearing enough about.”