Greeks prove to be a major force in on-campus student politics

Kate Bigam

Kent State students will go to the polls on Web for Students tomorrow to vote for their new Undergraduate Student Senate senators. Of the 19 hopefuls running for senatorial positions, half are members of a social fraternity or sorority.

This trend is not a new one. Eight of the nine current undergraduate senators are members of Greek organizations.

Danielle Keckley, a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, said Greeks are a major force in campus elections because individual chapters strongly encourage their members to vote.

“It’s not that we’re pushed to vote Greek,” Keckley said. “It’s that we’re pushed to vote, period.”

Keckley, sophomore sports administration major, said although Greeks are more inclined to support fellow Greeks, candidates’ platforms are the most important thing to take into consideration when voting.

Christen Coppola is running for senator of student relations in conjunction with eight other students who comprise the Experienced Student Leader ticket. Coppola, junior marketing major, is not a member of a Greek organization, but seven members of her ticket are. Coppola said she feels the senate became Greek-heavy because of networking opportunities available within fraternities and sororities.

“The only obstacle I’ve come across being one of the two only non-Greeks on our ticket is I’m not sure if I’ll gain the votes of the Greek community,” Coppola said. She added that the Experienced Student Leader ticket has campaigned at various chapters’ meetings, which she said she feels may give her an edge within the Greek community.

Ross Miltner, candidate for executive director of USS, said although Greek students have the advantage of inter-community networking, he feels other candidates have many of the same opportunities.

“I don’t want to say it’s unfair, because there are a lot of other avenues people could go to get that support,” said Miltner, junior communications studies major, of the Greek community’s backing. “Regardless of what our opposition might have said, we really are the best qualified people, regardless of being Greek.”

Miltner said his fraternity, Delta Upsilon, is heavily involved in student organizations outside the fraternity. Their motto, “A DU in everything and every DU in something,” exemplifies the brothers’ commitment to campus involvement.

Despite this, Miltner’s opponent, PRIDE!Kent President Christopher Taylor, said many of the Experienced Student Leader candidates are out of touch with the student body.

Although Taylor, junior nursing major, said he admires members of the Greek community for their organizational skills, he said his ticket, Student Voice, is more qualified to govern Kent State’s undergraduates.

“We’re not representative of a minority. We’re not representative of one group,” Taylor said. “We’re representative of the student body.”

The Student Voice ticket, comprised of four candidates representing various campus organizations (including one fraternity), seeks to bring diversity to the Undergraduate Student Senate.

“The reality is that many groups do not have representation on USS,” Taylor said. “That’s something we’re working to change.”

Sean Groves, junior finance major running for senator of business and finance on the Experienced Student Leader ticket, said many non-Greek students have the wrong impression of Greeks who seek campus leadership positions.

“We’re not really pulling together and trying to take over the university,” said Groves, also a Delta Upsilon. “We’re even more in touch with students on campus through the other organizations we’re members of.”

Taylor said the ideal set-up for the senate would be a combination of leaders from both tickets, creating a diversified group of leaders.

“Uniting the two voices would be phenomenally amazing,” he said. “That’s ultimately what we’d like to happen. I think it’s sad that it has to be an ‘us versus them’ mentality.”

Contact Greek life reporter Kate Bigam at [email protected].