For the 2014 spring semester, Greek life on Lipscomb’s campus will be in the midst of a redefining stage.
In the continuation of a process that started during the 2013 fall semester, both the campus life and Greek life teams are coming together to make Lipscomb a better place.
The campaign to redefine Lipscomb’s social clubs has been spearheaded by Sam Smith, the associate dean of campus life, and Sam Parnell, the head of Greek life. Together, along with the International Code Council, they spent all of last semester fine-tuning the new club definition into the version seen today.
“We’ve gone through a redefining stage of what Greek life is and what it means to be a part of Greek life,” Smith said. “What we’ve tried to do is we’ve tried to stage the setting for Greek life to be viewed in a positive light. This is the most powerful organization on campus. We want students to see it for how powerful and how good it is and really impact the reputation that it had by redefining what it will mean to be a part of Greek life.”
One of the main goals of the redefinition process is to erase any lingering effects of what Smith called “a nationwide bad stigma” when people think of Greek life for any college, including Lipscomb.
The plan is to highlight all of the positive aspects of Greek life, as well as to show what it can bring to the Lipscomb community, including non-Greek students.
“I think nationwide there’s a bad stigma with Greek life,” Smith said. “They’re the frats – the sororities where all kinds of partying takes place, and just by that reputation nationwide, [the stigma] even takes place here on campus. And if there ever is an incident with the club, it gets blown out of proportion. It’s all Greek life that does it. And that’s just not the case.
“They are students, sometimes students, that are part of a Greek system make poor decisions, but so do students who are not part of Greek life. So, this redefinition is really trying to define them in a positive light.”
Members of social clubs across campus are having to get used the new rules and regulations brought about by the redefinition, including the rule of clubs no longer being able to receive funding to officially travel out of town for formals and having to attend three athletic events as a club.
“They basically decided that we can’t go 30 or 35 miles away, so really that limits us to Nashville or Franklin,” Delta Omega Vice President Makenzie Kanyuh said. “But we have some exciting ideas for that, so we’re really excited about it. Formal is formal, and it will be really fun anyway. I would really love to have the out of state formals again. In past years, we went to St. Louis, we went to the beach and it was just a really enjoyable and fun time. But it will be fun no matter what.”
Theta Psi president Zach Bowen is excited about the changes being implemented, as they are in conjuncture with what the Wolves were founded on. Bowen and his club have one advantage over the rest of the clubs on campus when it comes to the new rules. The club was founded in the fall, so they are not steeply entrenched in any traditions.
“Yes, I’m excited about the changes.” Bowen said. “Those are some of the things that Theta Psi was founded on. We want to break down some of the, maybe not walls, but the division between people who are in social clubs and people who aren’t in social clubs.
“We think social clubs are a really good thing on Lipscomb’s campus. We think they can be positive, even for people who aren’t a part of them. We can do things to benefit the whole campus collectively as Lipscomb, and not just a certain small group of students.”
Other notable additions to the social club redefinition will be the clubs’ participation in drug and alcohol awareness events, an emphasis on entrepreneurship and philanthropy opportunities and even a combined effort of helping freshmen move into their dorms on move-in day in the fall.
There are over 500 students involved with Greek life on campus. With that high level of participation comes a high level of power, as well as many sets of eyes watching.
“It is the most powerful organization that we have on campus.” Smith said. “When all of Greek life is talking about the dangers of drugs and alcohol for their peers, it’s more powerful than getting it from a dean saying ‘Hey, don’t drink. Don’t do drugs.’ There’s a lot that can be done by Greek life for student life on campus. It can be a cowboy show. It can be their participation in Singarama, but just the massive numbers and the direction that they’re going in can really impact the campus.”
Photo courtesy of lipscomb.edu