Focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion, Lafayette begins search for new Greek advisor


The position of Associate Director of Student Involvement, which has been held vacant, also oversees Greek Life on campus. (Photo by Maddie Costello ’21)

By Lucie Lagodich

After a year of vacancy, and with the end of Lafayette’s hiring freeze in sight, the college is launching its search to fill the position of Greek life advisor.

The anticipated hiring date is July 1. The search committee, which will be assembled in the coming weeks, will be tasked with interviewing and selecting candidates and will be comprised of a mix of students, staff and alumni representatives that will look for a candidate with a strong background in higher education and Greek life, Vanessa Pearson, director of student involvement, explained in an email.

“The candidate will be a critical member of the Campus Life team and will provide support, advisement, and educational programming for students and student leaders affiliating with Lafayette’s fraternity and sorority community,” she wrote.

Pearson has held the position of interim advisor since Dan Ayala, the previous associate director of student involvement, resigned in February of last year.

“Our Panhel is focusing pretty heavily on diversity, equity and inclusion, and we want to see this focus represented in a Greek Life Advisor. It’s something that we care about a lot and our biggest issue is we want to make sure that the Greek Advisor is listening to the campus climate and what campus expects of us,” said Caitlyn Dempsey ‘22, president of the Lafayette Panhellenic Council (often referred to as Panhel).

Lafayette’s next president also has an anticipated start date of July 1, which marks a potential turning point for the college and is an opportunity to shift focus amidst a changing campus climate.

“The Panhel in the past hasn’t necessarily been the Panhel that we’re hoping to foster over the next year,” said Nina Weissbach ’22, executive vice president of the Lafayette Panhellenic Council. “I think first and foremost we’re looking for guidance that will also help solidify our roles and making sure we can set a precedent and a solid foundation for future years.”

Pearson echoed the importance of hiring a Greek Advisor who can focus on creating a more inclusive community in the coming years.

“Ideal candidates should be able to apply strong interpersonal and administrative skills to creating partnerships, show a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and be dedicated to the wholistic growth of students,” Pearson wrote.

Dempsey agreed, stating that they want to “extend [their] reach” and focus more on what change the campus wants to see in Greek life and facilitate that shift.

“We really care about making Panhel an organization that advocates both within Panhellenic organizations and outside of the Panhellenic organizations,” Dempsey said. “Not to say that that hasn’t been done in the past, but we really do want to maintain that we’re an organization for campus and we want our advisor to be completely on board with that.”

The Greek Advisor will work closely with other members of the Office of Student Involvement to facilitate campus-wide student engagement and “assist with programs that help create an inclusive campus community,” Pearson wrote.

Both Weissbach and Dempsey stressed the importance of outreach to the entire student body as well as shifting Greek life’s role on campus to be more inclusive by reforming their rules and rewriting bylaws.

“Transparency is a really big goal of ours and we think the advisor will play a big role in that,” Weissbach said.

“We really do understand our role, we’re here to try and lift up other organizations’ voices as well,” Dempsey said.  “We have so many types of people within the Panhellenic community and we really do listen to everything that we hear from both criticism and positive stuff, even if it is hard to hear.”