NIU establishes Greek life task force to tackle decreased involvement

Graduate+assistants+at+this+years+Meet+the+Greeks+event+in+August.

Courtesy of NIU

Graduate assistants at this year’s “Meet the Greeks” event in August.

Madelaine Vikse , Lifestyle Editor

DeKALB NIU has seen a dramatic decrease in participants when it comes to Greek life organizations. As a result, NIU President Lisa Freeman created the Greek revitalization task force in order to come up with a plan by May 2022 on what can be done to get more students interested in Greek life.

The task force is made up of students, a community member, NIU administrators and alumni.The group had their initial meeting on Sept. 1 and plans to have meetings at least once a month. 

Melody Mitchell, chief of staff and assistant dean at the NIU College of Law, as well as a co-chair for the Greek revitalization task force, said the group is excited about its role in helping to promote a healthy and vibrant Greek community. 

“Each member is invested in the success of NIU and its students,” Mitchell said. “We are looking forward to connecting with the various communities, and ultimately offering recommendations for a multi-pronged strategy aimed at strengthening and growing existing chapters, reviving dormant chapters, and attracting new ones to NIU.”

Over the last seven years, Greek life organizations’ number of participants has gone down 53% from 1,471 members in the spring of 2014 to 691 members this past spring, said Jeff Liesendahl, co-chair on the Greek life revitalization task force. 

Enrollment at NIU has decreased over the past 10 years from around 25,000 to around 16,500 students, said Charlie Fey,  interim vice president for student affairs. Fey was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity when he attended college.

For the 2020-21 year, there were four councils, 41 chapters and around 700 members, according to the NIU fraternity and sorority website.

When Liesendahl attended NIU, he was a Phi Sigma Kappa and took on roles such as steward, house manager, treasurer and president. 

“I probably have well over 100 people I still stay in contact with from Greek life,”  Liesendahl said.

One plan that the task force has in place is to take a look at what other colleges do when it comes to Greek life, and how NIU can implement some of those successful strategies here to get more students interested.

“With fraternities you get leadership, you get discipline, you get camaraderie. You also learn how to help out the community with different types of philanthropy events and, you know, fundraising events,” said Alex Bueno, a junior with a major in marketing, member of Delta Chi and the IFC representative for the Greek life task force.

Due to COVID-19, it was challenging to recruit during the fall since there were not a lot of students on campus.

There are shootings that have happened over where the majority of the Greek life houses are and one of the goals of the task force is to make a plan on how to make students feel safe, as that could be another reason for the decline in Greek life participation, Liesendahl said.

The beauty of Greek life is that you form lifelong connections with people,  Fey said.

“You have to sometimes leave your comfort zone to figure out what you really like,” Bueno said. “You know you can’t really just say you don’t like something even though you’ve never tried it.”  

For anyone interested in joining Greek life, it is encouraged to reach out to staff, current members and social media pages. 

“I want the same kind of, you know, community and leadership opportunities that were given to me to be given to all the students,”  Liesendahl said.

For more information on Greek life organizations, visit the NIU fraternity and sorority website.