Virginia Tech’s Panhellenic Council won the Overall Excellence Award from the National Panhellenic Conference, one of the nation’s largest Greek organizations for women. The council was also recognized for both outstanding leadership and risk management.
The awards are presented biannually. The council, which serves as the elected governing body for the university’s 12 Panhellenic sororities, won the recruitment award in 2009.
Council president Sue Buyrn of Chesapeake, Va., a senior double majoring in psychology in the College of Science and philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, said the awards are more than just a reflection on Virginia Tech’s Panhellenic Council members or on the policies and programs that earned them the recognition.
“It says something about the entire community," said Buyrn. "We can’t have good leadership, good risk management, or be good overall if not for all the women involved in following these guidelines. "They all bring something really different to the table that I think has strengthened our community this past year.”
Since the last conference, the council has instituted a standards board made up of one representative from each of the university’s Panhellenic chapters, a move that played a part in their award for risk management. They have also revamped policies relating to drug and alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct, and even fire safety, among many others. The policies were already in place as a National Panhellenic Conference requirement, she said, but the changes made them more specific to the Virginia Tech campus.
The council has also created leadership programming aimed at new members, especially first-year and sophomore students where new members are charged with creating, organizing, and executing a community-wide philanthropic project. Other new leadership developments highlighted by the national conference include the 365 Community Service project and a campus study competition that earned the winning chapter a donation to their favorite philanthropic cause.
The individual chapters have leadership opportunities for members, as well, with each chapter taking on its own cause, such as Alzheimer’s disease or children’s issues.
The award announcement released by the conference noted that part of the council’s Overall Excellence win was due to these community service projects and how they exemplify Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).
“I never thought that joining a sorority would be challenging, demanding, or motivating, and it has been all of those things for me,” Buyrn said. “Like anything in life, experiencing Greek life is what you make of it, and it has been the best experience I have had at Virginia Tech.”
She added that she encourages women who may not have found their place at Virginia Tech yet to learn more about the university’s Panhellenic chapters. Formal recruitment begins in January, but she said anyone who is interested can participate in one of the many 365 Recruitment events throughout the remainder of the fall semester.
“Panhellenic wasn’t what I was looking for, but I’m so grateful I found it. I’ve learned a lot about myself, others, the community, and the person I am and want to be. I’ve met people who inspire and motivate me, and it’s given me friendships that will last the rest of my life,” she said. “I really hope that freshmen this year will take advantage of the opportunity they have at Virginia Tech and at least consider the option of going Greek.”
Written by Jennifer Gibson.