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Montclair State Greeks Take Pittsburgh

by Montclarion Feature
Greek organizations represent Montclair State at an annual conference held by the NJLA.

Greek organizations represent Montclair State at an annual conference held by the NJLA.
Photo courtesy of Kelsea Rowan

This past weekend, nearly 1,000 Greeks gathered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to collaborate and share important ideas to continue making the Greek community in the Northeast more inclusive, positive and conducive.

Each year, the Northeast Greek Leadership Association (NGLA) organizes an annual conference to bring together Greeks from all over the Northeast to further community building and empower leaders within the community.

A variety of sessions were offered with focuses ranging from Title IX to diversity and inclusion to hazing and accountability. Montclair State Greek Life was lucky enough to be able to send a delegation of 22 members, which represented every sub-council, a few colonies and two hardworking professional staff members.

An influx of applications this year and an increase in delegation size has showcased an important development within the Greek community, demonstrating that members are more driven, inspired and committed than ever.

Each of the keynote speakers urged Greeks to become better leaders by setting proper examples for their chapters and the community at large while also developing better leadership skills, including becoming more honest and aware. Out of all the members of the Montclair State delegation interviewed, their answers to questions and numerous social media posts have one unifying theme: a renewed love and ambition to better the entire Greek community.

Member from the United Greek Coalition — which is comprised of the Multicultural Greek Letter Organizations on campus — and President of Delta Sigma Iota Osman Rehman noted that NGLA was particularly striking: “I had never seen that many Greeks grouped together since I crossed last year in spring 2015. It was definitely an experience I will never forget.”

Osman expressed that, despite there only being a few sessions for the organizations, he was able to connect and bond with other members as well as the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) over “exactly [what] they would like to see change in next year’s NGLA to benefit the organizations.”

Doug Arouh, who is the Vice President of Delta Chi and treasurer for the Interfraternity Council (IFC), was quick to express the great impact NGLA had on his life and how relatable the speakers were. Arouh stated that his favorite session directly addressed recruitment within the IFC. “The presenter really hit the nail on the head when he discussed the issues facing our council,” which left him with tactics to help IFC recruit “positive additions to the council and community as a whole,” he said.

Michelle MacDevette, a brother of Phi Sigma Pi and the president of the gender-inclusive subcouncil on campus, shared her love for the experience as a whole, but did note that she wished there had been more sessions directly relating to gender-inclusive organizations, which face slightly different issues than non-specialized ones. Even still, MacDevette profited greatly from NGLA and is excited to bring back a multitude of solutions to her chapter.

Kira Casas is the president of her council comprised of local organizations and the secretary of Theta Kappa Chi with great hopes for the future. When asked about her NGLA experience, Casas noted that she felt it was especially important for her to attend because she “craves leadership and change on a daily basis,” and “every word these leaders said to [her], hit [her] and changed [her] for the better.” Casas was happy to be able to connect with other local organizations in the northeast and hopes to become a speaker for local organizations at the conference in the future.

During the last night of the conference, there was a closing banquet held, where a few select schools were honored with a variety of awards. Montclair State was especially fortunate to be the only school honored with the Josette Kauffman Health and Wellness Award for the “It’s On Us” campaign that was enacted this past October through the IFC.

When Emily Cordero, Coordinator of Greek Life, was asked to provide more information on the campaign, she said, “Alex Dembowski, the Vice President of Philanthropy for the IFC and President of Tau Phi Beta, was able to work with different offices around campus to create the campaign. With the collaborations of the Office of Greek Life; University Police Department; Shannon Gary, Associate Dean of Students; Donna Barry of the University Health Center; Jaclyn Friedman-Lombardo of Counseling and Psychological Services; and Brian Edwards, Director of the LGBTQ Center, we were able to shine on sexual assault awareness. This award should truly be shared with all the partnerships that helped put the week together, from tabling in the Student Center, to having students sign the pledge against sexual assault, to self-defense and educational workshops as well as a showing of the documentary ‘The Hunting Ground.’”

Arouh stated that winning the award was “incredibly satisfying and left me speechless. Seeing our school and council recognized for achieving something so great really left me in awe.”

Matt Lerman, a brother of Theta Xi, President of IFC and Assistant Director of Greek Life and Activities, was lucky enough to accept the award on behalf of the IFC. When asked about the experience of receiving the award, Lerman shared that “we were recognized by a national organization for breaking a stereotype that fraternities around the country have on them, which is sexual assault. Receiving the award made me realize that the small impact we thought we made was much larger than we actually thought.”

After the conference came to a close and the delegation took a six-hour bus ride back to campus, each member was filled with a sense of pride and a duty to fulfill one central message from the conference about bringing back to their community: “Leadership is never an excuse to do less. It is always an excuse to do more.”

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