Beginning in January 2017, senior Kate Bechtel began her term as the President of the Panhellenic Council.
Her job involves overseeing the formal and informal sorority recruitment processes and helping plan and manage different events on behalf of the Panhellenic Council for the 2017 calendar year.
According to the Wake Forest Panhellenic Council’s website, there are 11 sororities on campus.
Yet only the seven National Panhellenic sororities and associate member Kappa Beta Gamma participate in the Panhellenic Recruitment process and hold membership on the Panhellenic Council.
In addition to the recruitment processes, the Panhellenic Council organizes several events, such as the Breast Cancer Fashion Show, Deacs and Greeks Week and generating funding and awareness for their Panhellenic philanthropy Circle of Sisterhood.
Although sororities are a longstanding tradition at Wake Forest, the senior economics major from the Bay Area in California meets new challenges based on the ever-evolving role of Greek Life on college campuses across the nation.
Why did you decide to apply for the Panhellenic Council?
I was interested in getting more involved in the sorority community and I didn’t necessarily know what that was going to look like but I thought getting involved with the Panhellenic Council was a great way to support women on campus in general and give them a voice.
Describe the selection process for your position?
Well, we are currently going through the process right now for the upcoming year. So, it starts with an electronic application and you can preference a position.
However, based on our experience, you don’t necessarily get the position you applied for. Then the chapter presidents of the different sororities slate the Panhellenic Executive Board, meaning they pick who should go in which position with feedback from the current Panhellenic Executive Board.
What does your position as president entail?
We have weekly meetings every Monday with all of the sorority delegates and Panhellenic Executive Members. I oversee recruitment and work with seven other vice presidents to plan events like the Breast Cancer Fashion Show, the Deacs and Greeks Week, Panhel Pride Week and Circle Of Sisterhood Week.
In addition to that I help look at policies and find areas where we as the Panhellenic Council can improve.
What do you wish people knew about your position?
I wish people knew that the Panhellenic Council was more than just recruitment. There are a lot of things that we do outside of recruitment to help create a community on campus and I wish students were more aware of that.
What has been your favorite event during your tenure as President?
The Breast Cancer Fashion Show has been one of my favorite events and Sophie Gonzalez did an amazing job planning it this year. Sophie and I worked together to plan the event. She was in charge of the logistics and did hours of work in order to pull off a really great event. My role involved more overseeing the event and making sure that people had the necessary resources.
It was really awesome to see younger girls getting involved in an event and all the organizations working together for a good cause that wasn’t necessarily tied to any one particular organization.
What other activities are you involved with on campus?
I really have enjoyed serving as a President’s Aide because it has allowed me to see a bunch of different facets of campus life.
I am also a research assistant for a professor in the law school who is studying hazing. So, it’s been really interesting to see how can someone can study issues that we are seeing in real life in an academic context. On campus, we host an anti-hazing prevention week because hazing is a big issue that the Greek Community faces across the nation.
What has been one of your favorite things to oversee in your role?
I think it’s the collaboration across the different Greek Organizations on campus. At “All Presidents Meetings,” I think it’s really neat to work with all the Panhellenic Presidents and talk about policies that impact all of our organizations. It has been fun to encourage the school to enact different policies that help benefit and support all of our organizations together. We do monthly president’s meetings with all of the Panhellenic, Interfraternity Council and National Panhellenic Council (NPHC) presidents. In addition, Dante Lizza, president of the IFC, and Jason Pugh, president of NPHC, meet to talk about large-scale and community issues.
As the different Greek Organizations often recruit different types of individuals, have you experienced any tension between the groups?
I honestly expected more tension. It has definitely been easier than I anticipated. I think there is kind of a stereotype that girls like to turn each other in for violations, but I don’t think the stereotypes have played out like I would have expected them to.
Generally, our Greek community is really supportive of each other — socially, professionally and academically — and I’ve definitely seen that as I served in this role. Sororities are really willing to help out each other in whatever way possible, especially with each other’s philanthropy and social events.
Just being in a room with the presidents every week, everyone is so willing to share the problems they are having and solutions they have to different situations. It’s fun to oversee such collaboration among the different Greek organizations.