“Hope is not a strategy on the plains of the Serengeti!” These are the words of David Westol, past executive director of Theta Chi fraternity, and the keynote speaker of the third Annual Greek Leadership Summit. Held last Satuday in the Great Room of the Heffner Alumni House to a full-capacity crowd, Westol delivered an excellent presentation to the active and rising greek leaders.
Arriving in large numbers, affiliated houses were told to bring an artifact of significant worth to their chapter to show off to all attendees and invited guests. The items showcased ranged from plaques to charters to vintage lettered jackets, all showing the diversity and breadth of culture here at RPI.
Alumni Inter-Greek Council President Roger Grice welcomed the greeks, and Vice President for Student Life Eddie Ade Knowles began discussion about the Greek Life Commons Agreement at Rensselaer. Knowles fielded questions about the commons agreement, a topic that is on every greek’s mind as the Rensselaer community moves forward with the Clustered Learning Advocacy and Support for Students initiative.
After a break for a deli buffet lunch, keynote speaker Westol jumped to the stage to begin his presentation. A prolific public speaker, Westol has made over 5,000 presentations ranging from hazing to risk management in universities across the United States. Before he began, he mentioned his speech may not be well accepted by all. Mentioning that although greek chapters do great things for the community, these events do not compensate for the sexual assaults, fighting, hazing, bad neighbor relations, and lower than average grades that many schools see from greek life. Accountability is the big word here, and we must understand that “Hope is not a strategy on the plains of the Serengeti: We earn our badges every day.” As greeks we must constantly work to improve ourselves as individuals, as chapters, and as an entire greek body, and these incidents only increase the negative stereotype that some associate with greek life.
I would like to thank everyone who participated in this event, and give special thanks to the Alumni Inter-Greek Council who organized the leadership summit, as well as Westol for making the trip all the way to Troy, despite experiencing significant flight delays earlier that morning.