ATO Colony at WKU helps Greeks comprise more than 40 percent of SGA
COLONY (Western Kentucky) — Members of the Student Government Association insist a disproportionate number of Greeks in the organization isn’t a problem.
There are 21 members of Greek organizations among the 50 total members of SGA. WKU’s Greek community consists of about 1,600 members, said Charley Pride, director of Student Activities and Organizations.
That means more than 40 percent of SGA is Greek while less than 8 percent of WKU’s student body is in a fraternity or sorority.
SGA President Colton Jessie said Greeks play a large role in the organization.
“I don’t think it is a bad thing that so many Greeks are in SGA,” said Jessie, who isn’t in a Greek organization. “It doesn’t matter what other organizations you’re in as long as you are making a difference, and most of the time they are.”
Billy Stephens, director of academic and student affairs for SGA, said Greek members like himself care about more than just their respective fraternity or sorority.
“Most of us care a great deal about the campus as a whole,” said Stephens, a member of Sigma Chi fraternity and the Interfraternity Council.
SGA’s operating budget is $121,335 for the 2010-2011 school year — money that comes from tuition. The organization distributes that money to various student groups and has input on many campus projects, notably potential renovations to Downing University Center.
Executive Vice President Kendrick Bryan, who is not in a fraternity, said members of the Greek community in SGA add a lot to the organization.
“I’m proud that one demographic is so involved,” he said.
Bryan said he’d like to see representation from other demographics on campus, such as Gatton Academy, international and grad students.
“SGA strives to represent every student, and I can’t think of a better way for that to happen than by featuring students from a number of different backgrounds,” he said.
“I would say we are doing better than in previous years, but we still have work to do.”
Wade Pierce, administrative vice president for SGA as well as a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, said there has always been a large amount of Greeks in SGA, but more so this year.
“It’s another way Greeks are showing their involvement — not only in the Greek community but the campus as a whole,” Pierce said. “They are trying to help the whole campus, not just their fellow brothers and sisters.”
Sixteen of the 21 Greek members in SGA are men belonging to a fraternity. Stephens’ and Pierce’s fraternities, Sigma Chi and Lambda Chi, account for nine of those 16.
Four Greek presidents are involved in SGA, including Katie Stillwell (Omega Phi Alpha), Adam Sheridan (Pi Kappa Alpha), Diego Leal Ambriz (Alpha Tau Omega) and Eric Smiley (Sigma Chi).
Stephens said he and Smiley talk about SGA often at their fraternity house, which led other brothers to join.
“People would hear our conversations and seemed interested,” Stephens said. “They wanted to know more about what was going on, so we told them how they could get involved.”
Pierce said he always tried to recommend some of his brothers to join SGA, which he has been a part of since his freshman year.
“Some of them approached me about it, and some of them I gave a little extra effort to in telling them it’d be a good idea to join.”
Many Greek organizations require their members to join another organization on campus, said Kaylee Egerer, SGA campus improvements chairperson and a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority.
“Whenever elections are coming up, I always inform our girls, and a lot of times they run,” Egerer said. “SGA is full of people who like to get involved, and you are more likely to find those kind of people amongst the Greeks.”
Stillwell, secretary of the senate, also said Greeks tend to be the most involved students on campus.
“They have the most opportunity to meet people,” she said. “Although I appreciate each student, I think Greeks may have a better feel of what goes on in the community because we are really informed about what’s going on.”
Members of SGA are either named as a senator through an election on TopNet or appointed by Jessie.
Stillwell said she understands the concern that such a high portion of SGA is Greek, but she said it’s a plus for the organization.
“I think the Greeks in SGA now do a good job of trying to look at the overall student body,” she said. “We try to reach out to every student — not just the Greeks.”