By Haley Doss, Assistant News Editor —
Gamma Phi Beta sponsored an open forum in honor of “I Love UTC” week to discuss councils coming together for a common purpose despite cultural and foundational differences.
The form was created as a space for members of each Greek council — the National Panhellenic Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council and Interfraternity Council — to voice ways to create a community rather than a system.
President Peri Smith, a senior and Camden, Georgia, is the president of Gamma Phi Beta and felt the event would increase conversation and change.
“Ultimately we just wanted to break the tension and start the conversation from a student’s perspective,” said Smith. ” The Dean of Students has been really good about facilitating conversations, but we feel like we cannot be real with each other.”
Input was representative of each council to discuss better ways to connect. They also discussed the benefits of collaborating with councils outside of their own and how to best do so.
There was a general consensus that the councils lack communication.
“I feel like successful organizational collaborations comes from fluid communication, listening on both parts and a willingness to understand,” said Caroline Meacham, a member of Kappa Delta and a sophomore from Memphis. “That starts with the members and the members carry the organization to work together.”
Along with the solution of better communication, attendees proposed things like “dropping the stereotypes” that are associated with each council, and not be afraid to branch out to other councils to build relationships.
To solve this problem an inter-council meeting was proposed to allow leaders of each to have the ability to not only open discussion but to build relationships with those councils that do not currently exist.
When questions of the removal of Step Show arose, both sides had the ability to voice their concerns or appreciation for the removal.
DeMarcus Boyce, alumni president of the NPHC council of Chattanooga, was asked directly for his input on why Step Show was removed. While was not present for the official decision of the removal, he was able to provide input from an NPHC perspective.
“To be frank, [it was] the lack of understanding about the cultural traditions, the heritage and the importance for one council and how it manifested for the rest of the campus,” said Boyce. “It is not just one thing, it is very complex and for many organizations, it is personal.”
Boyce encouraged questions and felt that the intentional conversation about how it translates to the rest of campus has just begun.
“The tradition [of Step Show] on campus was something that NPHC and members within the council wanted to share but somewhere along the line the sense that we were sharing who we were got lost and now it is not something we are sharing,” said Boyce.
After there was a comment made about intimidation and worries about “stepping on toes” when asking NPHC about culture and heritage, Boyce stated “The listening on both sides would be a good start because intimidation on one side, looks like alienation on another and I do not think either side is trying to intimidate or alienate.”
While some were still confused and upset about the removal, many members of NPC and IFC voiced that they did not take into consideration the way that NPHC felt about the topic.
Gamma Phi Beta also announced at the event that they will not be participating in Greek Show this year.
Smith stated that the chapter made the decision because they did not feel that all Greek organizations are represented.
The event was held in the Raccoon Mountain Room on Tuesday, February 21st at 6:15 p.m. For more information about I love UTC week please visit http://www.utc.edu/university-relations/i-love-utc/i-love-utc.php.