House Corp President Letter

piperHello Gamma Zeta Alumni,

The House Corporation and other alumni have been particularly active with the undergrad chapter these last few months and we’d like to give you an update.

If you visited the house recently, you were probably not happy with its condition. It is not good. The house has experienced rough treatment by the undergrads, inadequate on-going cleaning and maintenance and many years since any significant capital improvements and repairs have been made. This has been coupled with a current group that has not been living up to our long standing tradition of excellence in academics, intramurals, community service and leadership on the University of Illinois campus.

On the positive side, the house is full and our financial situation is excellent. And, we’ve carefully assessed the current membership and do not believe we have “bad guys”. Individually, they are bright, ambitious, interesting young men. Collectively, they need help.

One could attribute current behaviors to negative trends in society and maybe there’s some of that. However, if you look over the course of Gamma Zeta history, we’ve periodically faced significant challenges from the very beginning. As an example, we found an article in a 1923 Gamma Zeta Newsletter titled “Take Care of Your Home”. It was directed at the undergraduates asking them rhetorically why it was that “…the great big ‘he-men’ of the chapter always pick the rooms with the delicate furniture to stage their boxing bouts and wrestling matches? Why do our sedentary brethren insist on throwing ashes on the floors and carpets?” The explanations given in the anonymous article range from “irresponsibility,” to “laziness” to assumptions such as “it’s none of my business” and “the freshmen will fix it.”

We believe that eighteen to twenty-one year old young men left to their own devices whether it was 1913 or 2013 are going to wreck havoc. In 1923 and every other time that our chapter has experienced challenges, the solution has been for the alumni to get back involved, provide strong leadership, clear expectations and consequences for negative behaviors. I’m very pleased to report that a strong and active group of alumni have done just that in order to address our current challenges. During the last three months alone we have already:

  • Met in Chicago in December and January and formed committees to address the most critical challenges.
  • Had 15 alumni participate in the most recent initiation ceremony in Champaign along with Wynn Smiley, ATO CEO
  • Delivered a clear message to the undergraduates about expectation regarding care for the house and elimination of hazing
  • Developed a completely new process for cleaning and maintenance that is not reliant on non-resident pledges
  • Created a mentor program which already has over eighty alumni matched up with undergraduates to support academic improvement, resume building, internship and job placement
  • Developed a template for a new pledge training program that does not include hazing
  • Drafted for ATO National approval a new governance process and bylaws for a bigger, stronger and more active House Corporation and Alumni Board of Trustees.

We are off to a good start. If you visit the house this spring, you’ll notice a significant improvement. However, there is much more to do and we need more help. If you’d like to get involved, have questions or suggestions, please send me an email (jsp@svoco.com) or give me a call (773-910-4799). We will continue to keep you up to date via this newsletter, our monthly email blast and our web page (www.atoillinois.com/)

L&R,

Jeff Piper
House Corporation President

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