Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media
Whether it’s a false story about sexual assault in a fraternity at the University of Virginia or a true account of a racist chant caught on video at the University of Oklahoma, Greek life is in the spotlight right now.
At Ole Miss, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) is working to keep things positive.
“The main route we are trying to explore as far as preventing the measures or instances like that is really just educating our members in all of our fraternities,” said James Roland Markos, IFC president.
Markos said that new member education is key in preventing poor choices.
“We will have a speaker series that [new members] can be exposed to the leaders on our campus,” said Markos, “show them what our university is really about and what our Greek system is about and also educational events like sexual assault awareness and education training by standard intervention training.”
Nathaniel Clarkson, the national director of communications for Sigma Nu Fraternity, said these types of educational efforts belong on every campus.
“We all have to be more aware of the way situational forces affect our behavior. Even good and ethical people are capable of doing bad things when placed in the wrong environment,” Clarkson wrote in an email.
Jenelll Bukky Lanski, the coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority life at Ole Miss had things to add about Ole Miss Greek life.
“What I find important is to highlight and remember is members of fraternities and sororities are students first.”
Lanski’s role is to serve as an advisor to the fraternities and sororities within the Innerfraternity and Panhellenic community, including governing officers of each council.
“Success in the fraternity and sorority community is strengthened by the partnership between the university, national organization and its alumni/ae, and the local chapter and their members,” Lanski said in an email interview.
That partnership is easy to manage when the focus is on the positive things Greek organizations do, such as promoting a variety of philanthropies.
“The amount is unbelievable to see the amount of good that that does for the community, for our campus and for the state of Mississippi,” said Markos.
However, Clarkson believes that there is a common misconception that community service and philanthropy should make up for the bad things that happen in some Greek organizations.
“We should do service and philanthropy because we believe in solving problems and building strong communities, not because we think it will cancel out negative media coverage for other things. It doesn’t work like that.”
For Markos, the good easily outweighs the bad on a personal level.
“Greek life really builds relationships, it helps people in social situations, but it also helps people become stronger individuals, in my opinion, as they can be around others who are exploring what they believe and why they believe it, and I just think beyond that there is so much good to come from Greek life.”
Lanski had one final thing to say.
“Students choose this type of experience and involvement for their undergraduate experience, therefore my focus as an educator is to provide support and challenge while they grow and development as students and citizens.”
This story was contributed by Brian Romski, an active member in Greek life at Ole Miss.