Today@Sam Article

STAR Accountability Program Improves Greek Life, Benefits Community

July 7, 2017
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May

Fraternities and sororities who achieved outstanding goals through the STAR accountability program were recognized at the 7th Annual Pantheon at the end of the spring semester. The program has served as a mechanism to hold Greek Life to a higher standard and has allowed students to meet their fullest potential.

It’s no secret that Greek Life is not always viewed in the most positive light.

Just ask Abby Hurt, fraternity and sorority life coordinator in the Dean of Students Office at Sam Houston State University.

“When people hear about fraternities and sororities, they automatically think of movies like ‘Animal House’ or television shows like ‘Greek,’” she said. “The news tends to speak of the harmful acts these organizations have committed. This continues to create a negative opinion of fraternities and sororities and adds on to the stereotype.”

However, through her work, she sees how these student organizations have had a positive impact on campus and in Huntsville, not only in visible philanthropic ways, but also in many ways that benefit the quality of life in the community—often behind-the-scenes.

Although Greek Life is not for every college student, those who do choose to belong to one of the organizations agree that they have opportunities to develop personally and professionally that they might not have had otherwise

“I joined Greek Life to become part of a strong and passionate group of women with the same goals and mindset I have,” said Harley Rodriguez, member of Delta Xi Nu Sorority, Inc. “This community has helped me a lot with networking. I am always meeting new people whom I later have the pleasure of working with.”

“[Greek Life] has helped me grow and develop in a way I honestly didn’t expect coming into college,” said Gilberto Alonso Cruz, member of Theta Chi Fraternity. “I knew I would get involved, but I did not imagine that I would be this involved. It was because of my fraternity that I am a part of the SHSU community as an orientation leader, an ambassador for the college, and working with the whole [Interfraternity] Council.”

To improve the quality of sorority and fraternity chapters, each chapter has the opportunity to participate in a Five Star Chapter Evaluation Program, with awards presented to the highest scoring groups each year during the annual Greek Life Awards Ceremony, the Pantheon.

Jerrell Sherman, associate dean of students for student conduct and advocacy, started the program at SHSU in 2010. Over the past seven years, the Sam Houston Greek overall grade point average has increased from 2.68 to 2.91. Organizational involvement has increased by 94 percent. Service hours have increased from 8,500 to 137,237, and philanthropic donations have increased from $35,600 to $603,403.

Stella Vay, Greek Life graduate student assistant, keeps track of each organization’s program through the year.

“The program is called STAR, which stands for Success Through Accountability and Recognition,” she said. “It is comprised of five different sections: scholarship; service; organization involvement and leadership development; new member program; and organizational management and member development.”

“The STAR Packet is a great program that puts chapters in a position to achieve excellence in grades, service and leadership,” said Robert Mason III from Phi Beta Sign Fraternity, Inc.

“It helps guide different chapters and shows them ways to get involved in the community, whether it be through community service, workshops or collaborating with others to help put on helpful programs that benefit the campus and surrounding areas,” he said. “STAR has helped me personally break out of my shell and put me in different positions to help others and grow as a person.”

Chapters are required to meet 70 percent (3 STAR) of the program to be in good standing with the university. Those who achieve 80 percent and above (4 and 5 STAR) receive recognition at the Pantheon. At the 7th Annual Pantheon, there were a record-breaking number of 5 STAR recipients as 15 fraternity and sorority chapters won the ultimate award. The chapters included Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Omicron Pi, Delta Sigma Theta, Delta Tau Delta, Kappa Delta Chi, Lambda Theta Alpha, Omega Delta Phi, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Gamma Delta, Sigma Chi, Sigma Kappa Omega, Sigma Sigma Sigma, Theta Chi, and Zeta Tau Alpha.

“Since the beginning of STAR, chapters have seen an improvement in their grades. More members are involved in other student organizations and have continued to increase the number of community service hours served,” Vay said.

“Within this past year alone, members of the Greek Life community completed over 25,000 community service hours,” she said. “Not only are these students serving their community, they are also donating to various local non-profit organizations. This year, chapters accumulated over $86,000 to donate to charitable organizations. STAR has served as a mechanism to hold Greek Life to a higher standard and has allowed students to meet their fullest potential.”

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