The Greek Life Summit is an annual leadership training event for the council executives and new presidents of Cal Poly’s fraternities and sororities held in Cambria last weekend. In a shift from last year’s summit, which focused primarily on alcohol abuse, hazing and the possible disbandment of Greek life at Cal Poly, this year’s focused on leadership, personal development and inter-greek relationships.
This year’s summit project manager and Interfraternity Council adviser Matt Lancara described the difference between the retreats.
“Last year was kind of like a desperation to get some order from what seemed like chaos,” Lancara said. “This year is going to be totally different in tone. Whereas last year was kind of a downer, perhaps even trying to save the greek system, this year is all positive.”
About 80 people attended the event, including the presidents of each of Cal Poly’s fraternities and sororities as well as the executive members of the Panhellenic Association, Interfraternity Council and United Sorority and Fraternity Council. It was the second overnight Greek Life Summit, which has been held annually at Cal Poly for about 10 years. The retreat was held at Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria, one of the two sites used during Cal Poly’s student orientation Week of Welcome (WOW).
Funded by Student Life and Leadership, the weekend costs about $80 a person.
The cost included room, meals, leadership training activities and facilitator-led discussions aimed at developing the new class of greek presidents into more prepared leaders.
“It’s an investment in our student leaders,” said Stephan Lamb, director of greek life at Cal Poly, adding that he thinks the time and resources are a worthwhile investment.
Some students feel differently. “I think the concept is good, but I don’t think that the actual event is necessary,” food science sophomore Lisa Yamaguchi said. “I think there’s a way for Poly to do it without having to pay $80 a person. Having everyone go to Cambria, and having it hosted by some other party is kind of ridiculous. I feel like people wouldn’t take it that seriously.”
Kinesiology freshman Carly Burkland also said she thought it was good the summit focused on leadership skills.
“But personally I’d rather spend money on other things, like Poly Escapes or an actual charity program,” she added.
Last year’s retreat was a departure from the normal summit focus on leadership training. The retreat took place barely five weeks after freshman Carson Starkey died of alcohol poisoning following a Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledge event. Normal greek activities and winter recruitment had been canceled and Sigma Alpha Epsilon was suspended. The summit councils reinstated greek activities, but set up strict rules concerning the use of alcohol at greek-sponsored events. For example, former Delta Chi president Tanner Bennett attended last year’s summit, and said that they agreed to discourage underage drinking by only holding events at third-party venues and avoiding pre-parties altogether.
Alpha Gamma Rho president Halden Petersen said he expected the weekend to be a team-building, goal-setting sort of event. “It’s kind of like an opportunity to make leaders within individual houses,” Petersen said. “And that leadership that happens within our chapter will transfer over to leadership within Cal Poly.”