Business administration sophomore Danny Halprin has been elected as Interfraternity Council (IFC) president for the 2016-17 school year. After being chapter president of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) this past year, working part-time at business management software company MINDBODY and receiving the Most Outstanding Delegate Award from AEPi headquarters, Halprin said he feels confident he can take greek life at Cal Poly to new heights.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your upbringing — what were you involved in before coming to Cal Poly?
A: I did Boy Scouts, where I learned through leadership positions that I really enjoyed delegating, organizing and managing people. I was also captain of my varsity soccer team. I wasn’t the best player, but I communicated well and understood how to achieve the goals we wanted to achieve. Other than that, I started an organization called the Varsity Club, which raised money for low-income schools to afford sports programs.
Q: What about your family?
A: I lived with my mom, dad and brother in Irvine, California. My dad and brother were in AEPi, my dad at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), my brother at California State University (CSU) Fullerton. So I was kind of bred into greek life. I always knew it was a great program to get involved in. I kind of grew up thinking I’d be greek, but I didn’t really know what it was about until I came to Cal Poly and checked out rush and I knew it was for me.
Q: Were there other reasons you wanted to join greek life?
A: Being the Jewish fraternity, it was also a cultural thing. I found a way to bond with very similar people deeper than just a social way. Greek life presented all sorts of positive benefits. There’s an alumni network to access for professional help, brothers as emotional support and a lot of incentives that I found immediately.
Q: What made you choose Cal Poly?
A: I had parents that went to UC schools, so they kind of made me believe that University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) was the better option when I was deciding between Cal Poly and UCSB. So when I got my acceptance, I was already buying Gaucho shirts. But when I visited Cal Poly I fell in love with the campus, the environment and business school, so I sold the shirts.
Q: Did you get involved in your fraternity right away?
A: I became alumni liaison as soon as I was initiated. With that role, I started reaching out to our alumni by using a contact database that we didn’t know existed before. With that, we were able to reconnect with over 300 lost alumni. They’ve really made a difference for our chapter.
Q: When you ran for IFC president, you mentioned that your experience in a Jewish fraternity made you able to empathize with the underrepresented and help bolster campus inclusivity. Do you think that diversity and inclusivity is a problem with greek life at Cal Poly?
A: I don’t think it’s a problem, but I think the perception is why people have a problem with (greek life). I don’t think it’s wrong to be exclusive, selecting your members is part of the process that makes your fraternity strong because you take like-minded people and you put them together to be cohesive. I think a lot of people don’t consider greek life because there’s a stigma associated with it, and the public image of greek life is a little bit tarnished. I think there are more steps to take to make it more inclusive. Being Jewish has helped me understand that different groups of students have different interests and passions. I think applying that kind of understanding will help me work better with groups like United Sorority and Fraternity Council (USFC) and others.
Q: Is there anything else you plan to do to break that stigma you say is associated with greek life?
A: I want to show our tiered standards of excellence system to the campus community. There are three tiers — bronze, silver and gold — that represent different criteria at different levels. For example, the gold status is the chapter’s average GPA being above a 3.0, hundreds of philanthropy hours and three members involved in student government, among a whole list of things. If that was publicized and people got to see fraternities achieving those things, they might think “maybe greek life isn’t what I thought it was.” I definitely want to see more efforts along these lines with public relations so people can start understanding we do a lot of good in the community.
Q: How do you feel about being the public face of greek life when things do go wrong and add to a negative public perception of your organization, such as the problem of sexual assault?
A: I think greek life implements a number of different policies that focus on eradicating that (sexual assault) from the greek life system. The unfortunate part is that (sexual assault) is in college culture in general, but I think that greek life is doing far more than the normal college student to help with this problem. We have Safer chairs in our fraternities, a Safer representative on IFC, we have sexual education courses and we’re trained on risk management. We are getting the most training to deal with those situations.
Q: You also said in your speech that you wanted to deepen your relationship with Safer. How are you going to do that?
A: I hope to hold a greek-wide sexual assault awareness week and expand our current efforts to really drive home that greek life really does all that it can to support the message of Safer.
Q: You said that next year is going to be the “make or break point” for greek life. What do you mean by that?
A: There have been up and down years, a number of incidences have happened in the past few years. I think that this year those events have plateaued, and I think that allows our trajectory to start heading upward. Hopefully, I can be the one to help us lead that positive direction and have stable and secure growth.
Q: What are your feelings about being elected? Are you excited?
A: I am very excited. I know it’s going to be a lot, but it’s definitely an effort worth fighting for. I strongly believe in greek life’s values and I’m ready to be the representative for it.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.