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Only 16 percent of Cal Poly students are members of social fraternities and sororities, but their presence is much larger within student government.
Nearly half of next year’s Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors — 11 of 24 members — are involved in greek life. That number is actually smaller than the current board, which has 15 members in fraternities or sororities.
Current ASI President and agricultural business senior Jason Colombini, who recently finished his second term as Zeta Beta Tau’s new member educator, served as the Interfraternity Council (IFC) president last year.
People who join fraternities and sororities are often leaders by nature, Colombini said. For those who might need a little more prodding to get involved, brothers and sisters are there to encourage them.
Many greek-affiliated Board of Directors members have served in leadership positions within their chapters, such as College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) representative and Alpha Chi Omega President Brea Haller.
IFC and ASI leadership share many of the same ideas and strategies, such as meetings run by Robert’s Rules of Order. Panhellenic meetings tend to be even more meticulously planned out and organized, Colombini said.
Colombini encouraged new Board of Directors members and Zeta Beta Tau brothers Owen Schwaegerle, John Herrero and Cyrus Ebedat to run for office this year. Before open campaigning began, he made sure they knew being in a fraternity does not automatically equal earning a spot on the board.
“You still have to get out there (and) talk to people in clubs, people within your college,” Colombini said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, I’m a fraternity or I’m in a sorority, (so) I’m going to win.’”
Incoming ASI President and political science senior Joi Sullivan is not part of greek life, but she made sure to reach out to fraternities and sororities while running for office and employed members of Zeta Beta Tau, Delta Chi, Chi Omega and Gamma Phi Beta on her campaign team.
Sullivan visited many fraternity and sorority chapter meetings when garnering votes, assuming many of them would vote. Since members of fraternities and sororities will often log on to vote for one of their own for Board of Directors, they are also likely to vote in the presidential race, especially if they are familiar with a candidate like Sullivan.
“It’s a political strategy,” Sullivan said. “You look at the groups that are most involved and probably the most likely to vote. If you don’t reach out to them, you’re not accurately representing a huge chunk of campus.”
Sullivan has not named her executive cabinet yet, as applications are not due until May 12, but said during campaigning she hoped it would contain at least one member of greek life. Five of the nine on Colombini’s staff are members of fraternities and sororities.
“The greek community is a very involved group on campus, and I think student government is a great way to get involved,” Sullivan said.
While the Board of Directors’ main job is to represent the students of their respective academic colleges, they also vote on legislation approved by the chair of the Board.
Being in greek life can help win elections, but it isn’t necessary to reach office within ASI, Colombini said. Taking full advantage of the 10-day open campaigning window is more important than establishing connections beforehand.
“If you’re a good, qualified leader and you go out there and campaign hard, you go to the clubs and put posters up, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get (elected),” he said. “Greek life helps, but like I said, it’s not the end-all, be-all.”
IFC President Alex Horncliff, who was recently elected to represent the College of Science and Mathematics on the board, could not be reached to comment for this article.
Complete list of 2014-15 greek Board of Directors members:
Kevin Londerholm (Delta Chi), Brandon Scott (Delta Sigma Phi), Yashar Moayedian (Delta Sigma Phi), Brooke Bernardy (Gamma Phi Beta), Samantha Kin (Kappa Alpha Theta), Annalee Akin (Kappa Kappa Gamma), Alex Horncliff (Lambda Chi Alpha), Lexie Bonestroo (Sigma Kappa), Owen Schwaegerle (Zeta Beta Tau), John Herrero (Zeta Beta Tau), Cyrus Ebadat (Zeta Beta Tau).