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Greek organizations seek collaboration via new office

Administrators and student leaders alike are taking steps this year to align more closely all elements of the greek community.

In addition to holding Greek Week in October for all three groups--the residential Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council and the mostly-minority National Panhellenic Council--leaders of all 35 greek chapters will convene for a retreat Sept. 14 to discuss greater greek unity.

Meanwhile, the newly created Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is working to find its niche as a bridge between traditionally white and black greek organizations and as a forum for greater interaction and communication. Each chapter will literally share space in the same office, located in the lower level of the Bryan Center.

"The students are committed to wanting a community," said Nicole Manley, the office's program coordinator, who arrived this summer.

Sheldon Maye, vice president of the National Panhellenic Council, said he believes the new office will be especially conducive to more interaction between the groups.

"I'm very excited about this new opportunity to literally work with the other greeks on campus," wrote Maye in an e-mail. "It will be much harder for there to be a lack of communication between the groups in such a commonly used [space] and close proximity."

Kerianne Ryan, president of the Panhellenic Council, and Jeremy Morgan, president of the Interfraternity Council, agreed with Maye. Ryan said the greek community should be less divided by councils and that together, all of the chapters are a base of unharnessed power. Morgan's plans include events like leadership retreats, community service projects and conferences with greek members from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University to "promote positive interaction with our neighbors."

Among the new office's other goals include developing a deeper, more long-term perspective in the greek community. Although many students only consider the time they will be at Duke, Todd Adams, director of the greek life office, and Manley want to concentrate on a longer time frame.

Student leaders all agreed that the new office has so far offered unlimited support and several suggestions for the upcoming year.

"I think that if anything [the Office] assists greeks on campus by combining resources, makes the greek voice stronger," Maye wrote. "Increased communication leads to increased knowledge and ultimately a stronger authority."

Ryan said the new office enables her to concentrate less on everyday functioning and more on formulating new ideas, because the office combines resources and amplifies the greek voice.

One of the things that Manley hopes to amplify is philanthropy. She said it is a large part of greek organizations, but is not given the public credit it deserves. She hopes to increase awareness of community service by recording hours and making the activities more visible on campus.

Perhaps most importantly--considering the perception of many greeks that the administration is aggressively seeking to limit them--is the role the new office plays in the relationship between administrators and students.

Morgan said the office legitimizes the role of fraternities and sororities in the eyes of the administration. He said he has enjoyed interacting with Adams, who also belonged to a fraternity and has been a very popular figure among fraternity members since his arrival three years ago.

"[Adams] has a greek perspective," Morgan said. "He's easy to talk to, knows how to be critical and how to give positive reinforcement."

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