Saturday, October 24, 2015

NPC Annual Meeting: A Collegian’s Perspective

 -written by Francesca Pancorbo, Chi Omega collegian from the University of Minnesota

The State of NPC is Strong

For many collegians, the National Panhellenic Conference is often thought of as a mythical higher-up organization connecting to collegiate women solely through rules in the Manual of Information. However, because of the incredible opportunity to attend the 2015 NPC Annual Meeting, this revolutionary organization has truly been brought to life before my eyes.

In her State of NPC address, my Sister and NPC Chairman, Jean Mrasek, spoke of the vast advancements that the NPC organization has made for women throughout history. Thriving as one of the largest women’s organizations in the world today, NPC has had a transformational year. As Chairman Mrasek explained it, this governing body has “worked together to make a difference” and have “encouraged the sorority women to think BIG and act STRONG as a unified coalition of women.” These statements are reflected in the accomplishments made by NPC in the 2014-2015 year, which include: hosting the first Panhellenic Academy in which Panhellenic officers were trained, approving an NPC position statement on sexual assault and launching a social media awareness campaign, engaging sorority leaders on more than 20 campus visits, and recognizing College Panhellenic excellence with presentations of awards on campus.

Hearing the impact that NPC has made throughout the world to improve the lives of its collegians and alumnae truly resonated with me and was arguably my favorite part of the day.To see how active NPC is in the community is inspiring and sheds light on the idea that there is so much more to be had and be involved with after our collegiate years are over.
For today, I will close with Chairman Mrasek's telling words that truly embody what the life-long Greek experience is about and how important it is for NPC to leave a lasting legacy: "We must do more than survive; we must flourish. Our work will impact generations of sorority women to come." Snaps to that.

Monday, October 5, 2015

NPC Transitions

We can learn a lot about teamwork and transitions from watching geese in flight.

This fall, thousands of geese will fly south in the United States to escape the cold, Canadian winter. They fly together in V-formation, each goose providing additional lift and reducing air resistance for the goose flying behind it. Scientists who study migrating birds note that the flock can reach the destination more quickly and with less energy when members fly together in formation.

Equally important, geese rotate leadership many times during the course of the journey. This practice allows for the flock to function at full capacity while the lead goose drops back and another goose moves to the front position.

Inter/national sorority leaders gather later this month in Irving, Texas, at the National Panhellenic Conference annual meeting. The rotation of leadership in NPC will pass from one member organization to another - Chi Omega to Sigma Kappa.

Leadership rotation happens in NPC for a member organization every 52 years. Like the geese flying in V-formation, it is our tradition every two years for the lead sorority to step back and make way for the next member organization to step forward and serve in the front position. The designee for the member organization serves on the NPC Executive Committee as vice chairman for two years before beginning her two-year term as chairman. This smooth and seamless transition exemplifies the mutual trust and respect we have in one another.

It has been humbling in my role as chairman to represent NPC as one of the largest women's organizations in the world. Chi Omega set me on this course as a sorority woman 35 years ago, providing growth and leadership development through volunteer opportunities at the local and national levels. I was asked to serve on Chi Omega's NPC delegation in 1993. That appointment was a turning point for me in my life. NPC recognized the passion in my heart for Panhellenic and took me miles down the road with new interfraternal friendships.

Indeed, this has been a remarkable journey. It has been my distinct honor and privilege to lead and to serve as NPC chairman. I have been blessed to have many mentors in both Chi Omega and NPC. And it has been my good fortune to work alongside such talented and dedicated women on the NPC Executive Committee, Board of Directors and Foundation Board of Trustees, as well as all those seated around our U-shaped table arrangement at NPC business meetings. Some of you went out of your way to acknowledge my efforts, and your kind words lifted me. This reinforces our friendship beyond badges and illustrates the true beauty of sisterhood in our women's-only organization. Thank you for your encouragement and support.

At this transition time, it is appropriate to reflect on the recent accomplishments and think forward to what awaits us. We have navigated new waters and climbed new heights together as a unified coalition of women. Our shared commitment has resulted in positive outcomes. Here are a few highlights. NPC has:
  • Become more visible and recognized as the authority for the sorority experience through our media placements and advocacy efforts.
  • Gained credibility through Gallup research findings on sorority membership and well-being, and private research on sorority membership and retention.
  • Forged new relationships with interfraternal partners and college and university officials through campus visits, and additional forums for outreach and collaboration.
  • Provided educational tools and College Panhellenic essentials for campus sorority leaders with the introduction of College Panhellenic Academy.
  • Taken a stand with position statements on discrimination and sexual assault, and raised our voices in favor of legislative solutions on student safety and success.

Can we sustain our momentum? There are daily challenges that have the potential to knock us off course. But our work to preserve our timeless core values and our relentless drive to stimulate progress motivate us all to press on. This fundamental duality is what characterizes NPC as an enduring great organization, as described in Jim Collins' monograph, "Good to Great and the Social Sectors."

NPC will continue to soar as we take flight in the coming years. We have learned through our history that we are lifted up by the energy of one another.

Monday, September 21, 2015

NPC Can Help Rock the Vote

Our member organizations were founded by women who were courageous to step forward and establish women’s-only organizations where they had voice and vote in a safe forum, this before the ratification of the 19th amendment. Many of the early leaders in our organizations were also active in the women’s suffrage movement. These sorority sisters advocated for future generations of women when they petitioned for voting rights.

National Voter Registration Day is Sept. 22. As part of our duty as citizens in our communities, I encourage you to exercise your right to vote whenever possible and encourage other sorority members to get registered. Please visit for information on opportunities to become more engaged.

Let’s do our part and honor those women who came before us and fought for the rights and privileges that we enjoy today. Spread the word and rock the vote.

Friday, September 11, 2015


Let's all agree that sexual violence is a heinous crime. It is a felony and should be treated as such.

Thankfully, most recognize that something must be done to improve the existing state of affairs, and a wide range of voices have been heard in Washington, D.C., throughout the United States and around the world to address numerous concerns.

One year ago NPC became more vocal on the topic of student safety on campuses. The Chairman's Message in September 2014 (Sexual Assault Awareness: We Are on the Same Team) focused on our united efforts to speak out about sexual violence and the need for more awareness and solutions to improve the status quo. This year we are promoting "The Red Zone" as part of a social media awareness campaign.

There has been significant progress since we turned up the volume and aired our concerns about student safety on campus. Of particular note:
  • NPC formed a Student Safety and Sexual Assault Awareness Task Force in October 2014. This task force reported on recommendations to the board of directors at its May meeting. Further work on areas of awareness, campus resources and member organization resources is underway.
  • The NPC Board of Directors approved a position statement against sexual assault in February.

We shared last year that we would enter collaborative discussions with the North- American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) to address campus safety as part of the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition legislative agenda. A considerable amount of time and focus has been dedicated to this effort, which includes conversations with lawmakers and others in the interfraternal community.

This summer legislation was introduced that garnered the support of NPC and its member organizations. NPC supports both bills -- Safe Campus Act and Fair Campus Act -- because they represent viewpoints on key concepts and core principles held by many of our members. Polling data released this week shows an overwhelming percentage of likely voters believe that the law enforcement agencies should take the lead in investigating and adjudicating allegations of sexual assault on campuses.

Why is NPC speaking out on federal legislation? 

NPC has a responsibility and obligation to advocate for the issues confronting its members. As sorority women, we are proven leaders on campuses and in communities. It is part of our tradition to seize opportunities to improve the status quo and seek solutions. We want to be part of the conversation surrounding sexual violence, student care strategies, due process rights for individuals and organizations, and preservation of single-sex exemption under Title IX.

Hear our voices as college chapter leaders, alumnae and inter/national sorority leaders speak out ...

Many of my sorority sisters, Panhellenic friends and classmates have been affected by sexual violence, and unfortunately, this number continues to grow every term. However, this does not have to continue to be the case. The Panhellenic community has an incredible opportunity to change the status quo for our members and all collegiate women. The legislation is essential to preserving our sisterhoods, protecting collegiate women and improving campus safety. -- Tracy Nelson, Delta Gamma, Southern Methodist University class of 2016

While I absolutely understand the need for colleges and universities to have and utilize sexual-assault policies, I also find it vital for young women and men to understand that sexual assault is a criminal act. It cannot be looked upon as a less serious offense because of where it happens or who's involved. That's why I feel it's crucial to encourage law enforcement as an essential resource for those dealing with sexual assault. -- Courtney Brown Zemerick, Kappa Delta, professional counselor

The Safe Campus Act and the Fair Campus Act provide unprecedented protections to all student victims affected by sexual violence on campus. They are comprehensive in scope, resulting from months of collaboration among leaders of men's and women's fraternities, in consultation with a wide array of subject-matter experts, including law enforcement officials and victims' rights advocates. -- Laura Doerre, Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity president

How can you get involved?
  • Review the information about the legislation NPC is endorsing. Click the links to find further details.
  • Contact your representative to share your support of one or both bills.
  • Promote campus resources available to victims of sexual violence.
  • Share the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline -- 800-656-HOPE -- with your community.
  • Provide education on bystander intervention.
  • Support sisters who have the courage to step forward and choose to report.
  • Promote "The Red Zone" and create more awareness by sharing, liking, regramming or retweeting our messages.

As stated in our Panhellenic Creed, we stand for "guarding of good health, and for serving, to the best of our ability, our college community." It is vital for NPC and our member organizations to advance solutions that will protect our members on campus.

Our voices must be heard, and the time is now.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Guest Blog: Collegiate Women Deserve Better Than the Status Quo

By: Tracy S. Nelson, Southern Methodist University, Delta Gamma 

Many of my sorority sisters, Panhellenic friends and classmates have been affected by sexual violence, and, unfortunately, this number continues to grow every term. However, this does not have to continue to be the case. The Panhellenic community has an incredible opportunity to change the status quo for our members and all collegiate women. This is why I support endorsing the Safe Campus Act and Fair Campus Act. 

The Safe Campus and Fair Campus acts protect all those involved in an incident of sexual misconduct by ensuring campus-level support for victims, interim measures to protect a campus from an alleged perpetrator and due process rights for all students involved. The pending legislation also recommends education. This means that if I or any of my friends have to face the horrible reality of sexual violence, we will be ensured protection, support and a fair and just conduct procedure. 

Women should be able to unite as a community to support and encourage one another when sexual violence impacts a campus. Chapter meetings and sisterhood functions are a time when you know you will be safe, loved and understood. The Safe Campus and Fair Campus acts protect our right to function as female-only organizations; an aspect of sorority life that some campuses have attempted to change in response to sexual violence. Sorority women should not be punished nor suspended in the times when community and sisterhood are most needed. 

This legislation is essential to preserving our sisterhoods, protecting collegiate women and improving campus safety. I support the Safe Campus and Fair Campus acts because I believe we as collegiate women deserve so much better than the status quo.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


We, the fraternity women of America, stand for preparation for service through character building, inspired in the close contact and deep friendships of fraternal life. To us, fraternity life is not the enjoyment of special privileges, but an opportunity to prepare for wide and wise human service.--Panhellenic Creed, National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) 1925  

The Panhellenic Creed, recited in 1925, is relevant even today. It speaks volumes about who should join our ranks. For you see, we are in the business of preparing sorority women for wide and wise human service.

Many of our members will return to campus this month to prepare for primary recruitment with their sorority sisters. This is an important time for sorority women to practice conversation skills and learn to talk about the values and ideals found in their ritual and highest teachings.

Sorority recruitment numbers continue to be high on campuses coast to coast, an indicator that the sorority membership experience is appealing to potential new members (PNMs). The number of women pledged during the last recruitment period was up 10.61 percent compared to the previous year. In addition, more than 6,400 women joined new chapters on college campuses in 2014-15, which was up 36.4 percent compared to those pledged in new chapters in 2013-14.

Given current social media culture that promotes "connections" and "likes" on Facebook and Instagram, we know young women seek what sorority membership provides -- a sense of belonging. Sorority recruitment is intended to engage PNMs in meaningful interactions and exploration of the lifetime benefit associated with membership. These interactions, we offer a preview of our caring community.

From the beginning, our member organizations sought accomplished women to join their organizations. Sororities wanted women "who represented diverse worldviews and who held different notions regarding women in higher education." ("Bound by a Mighty Vow," Diana P. Turk.) Member organizations evolved over time to represent the differing and changing needs of their members. What has remained unchanged is that new members are chosen based on qualities and accomplishments that align with chapter values and established criteria.

Membership selection is one of the most important parts of recruitment. Each candidate receives thoughtful consideration, and it should be no surprise that member organizations have developed policies and procedures that must be followed. And since recruitment is based on mutual selection, PNMs also have the opportunity and responsibility to engage with chapters and further seek those with whom they feel a values-based connection.

There are several moving parts that contribute to recruitment success on campuses. College Panhellenics assist with recruitment management and ensure that NPC Unanimous Agreements and recruitment procedures are followed. Sorority chapter leaders educate active members on procedures outlined by their inter/national organization and ensure that they comply with them. And alumnae volunteers support recruitment efforts in various ways, giving credence to the fact that sorority membership is a lifetime commitment.

Working hand in hand, all entities function in concert with one another. Our ultimate goal is that, through values-based recruitment, potential new members will find the perfect sorority match.

Ready to recruit? Let's go!

NPC has several position statements related to recruitment activities:

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Advancing Solutions

NPC has a proud reputation as one of the leading organizations of collegiate and alumnae women. Our member organizations are located on more than 670 campuses with over 350,000 undergraduate members in more than 3,100 chapters. We are in the business of empowering women to be leaders on their campuses and in their communities to make a difference in the lives of others.

The Safe Campus Act and Fair Campus Act were introduced yesterday in Congress. NPC announced its full support for both the Safe Campus and Fair Campus acts and remains committed to playing a part in important dialogue pertaining to student safety and success.

On a personal note, I am pleased to see legislative efforts representing different approaches to address the complex topic of campus sexual violence. This legislation escalates the conversation for the benefit of our sorority members and all students. We all want the same outcome -- a safer campus.

We will watch closely in the coming days and weeks as lawmakers debate issues that impact student safety on campus and address due process protections for individuals and organizations. In addition, we will enthusiastically support legislation that will strengthen our historic exemption under Title IX as a women's-only organization. 

Our shared commitment as a unified coalition of women is important every day, but especially today. We applaud members of Congress for hearing our voices and seeking solutions to our concerns.