This week Campus Insider sat down with Ellie Elston, the president of the Panhellenic Council (PanHel). PanHel is the unifying governing and coordinating body of the sorority system; it serves as the communication link between the sororities and the university administration. PanHel works closely with other Greek organizations, such as the Interfraternity Congress (IFC).
Sexual Misconduct Education
PanHel has been working with a focus group to expand education regarding sexual misconduct.
“The problem is that sometimes we try do things on the chapter level, when we really need to be pushing on every level, so we can be hitting it from every angle,” said Elston.
This focus group has presented ideas and findings to both the Greek community at chapter meetings and the general public at a town hall meeting that was held on March 4. The current aim for this initiative is to educate and get input from the CWRU community.
“We’re in this phase of taking that plan and making it into real action items, so we’re going to be looking to other organizations to do that,” said Elston, “especially the major umbrella organizations—get their support, and get their involvement—because we want this to be a campus change.”
PanHel and IFC are working together to improve the Students Meeting About Risk and Responsibility Training (SMARRT) Program, which is part of the Culture of Care Initiative. SMARRT leaders are any Greek members who go through training to present, to various Greek and non-Greek organizations alike, on SMARRT Sex, SMARRT Substance and SMARRT Self.
“The goal is to start more of a conversation and less of a presentation,” said Elston.
Similarly Bystander 101 is a group of sessions specifically for new Greek members as part of the culture of Care Initiative.
Recently PanHel was also involved in the Fear to Freedom Campaign to provide kits containing clothing to leave the hospital in and uplifting messages to victims of sexual assault. Usually in the case of sexual assault, a victim’s clothing is taken as evidence, leaving said person with only the hospital’s scrubs to wear home.
To provide for these training programs, PanHel has made an effort to cut on excess spending on the budget to make sure that in the future they can still do meaningful, large-scale programs. One of the most notable cuts is food for meetings.
PanHel aims to improve the campus collaboratively and to ensure that the Greek chapters are working together as well—especially on the issue of sexual misconduct.
“We need our men’s fraternities and women’s sororities to be working together,” said Elston.