IU’s Panhellenic Association recognized the challenges posed to young and aspiring leaders and sought to help new members of the greek community sharpen their leadership skills at a retreat last weekend.
The first Panhellenic Association New Member Emerging Leaders Retreat attracted around 60 women, all of whom joined greek life this spring, from 18 of the 22 chapters. The leadership retreat was primarily organized by junior Jordan Morgan, IU PHA vice president of leadership development in collaboration with the Office for Student Life and Learning.
“We are in this to empower each other and become better women,” Morgan said.
Attendants gathered in groups to focus on special themes for the workshop and would return to the larger group to share their ideas in Cedar Hall auditorium from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
As vice president of leadership development, it was Morgan’s job to organize the retreat, and she said it took her two months of collaboration with members of student life and learning to find a program specifically designed for greek women.
Morgan said it was through this collaboration that PHA managed to organize a peer-facilitated retreat that balanced the presence of greeks and non-greeks. She said Student Life and Learning staff members led large group discussions.
The retreat was not mandatory because Morgan said it was targeted specifically toward new members with strong leadership desires.
“We wanted women who had a desire to run for a leadership position in the fall,” Morgan said. “But we still opened it up to all new members in the community.”
Freshman Mckinizie Smith is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and joined the greek community this spring, but like many she was not present at Sunday’s retreat. Smith said she did not receive an email let alone know anyone who had attended or heard about the retreat.
“It should be advertised because more people would have been involved with it,” Smith said. “It shouldn’t be exclusive.”
Smith said she felt disappointed because she had ideas and suggestions about the recruitment and new member induction processes at IU. She said she felt it was an insensitive and illogical solution not to invite all new recruits. She said all recruits deserved a chance to receive leadership training and equal access to leadership opportunities. However, Smith said she was weary of larger retreats involving the entire community because too many people gathered in one place can be more of a controversy.
IU’s Panhellenic Association president, Alyssa Kirshenbaum, said her organization had begun to consider ideas for bettering the retreat and expanding it to make it more conducive to the leadership development process. Kirshenbaum said she thought the retreat was a success because it gave women a chance to step out of their chapters and recognize the greater community of shared values.
Morgan said she was working to build on this idea of a leadership retreat by creating a new program in the fall that would invite the women from this spring’s retreat to discuss what they have experienced between retreats in the spring and fall, she said.
“They’ll have a little better grasp on things come the fall,” Morgan said. “We can see how they put the skills they learned into their lives, to see if they have taken or trying to take leadership positions.”