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Greek Spotlight 

My Time at the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute
By Lizzie Lemon, V.P. Finance & Philanthropy, Panhellenic Executive Council

 


This past July I had the amazing experience to attend the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI) at UCLA.  Students from across the nation gathered to attend the leadership academy to discuss important Greek issues and develop leadership skills to bring back to their college campuses. The Institute began in 1990 with only 30 students and has since expanded to 750 students per summer.  I attended the fifth session of the program and the only session on the West Coast.  Upon my arrival in Los Angles, I was taken to the Kappa Delta sorority chapter house where I would be staying for the next five days.

Our first day involved introductions and an exploration into the courage that is required to advance Greek Communities.  The activities the first day allowed students to discuss the issues within their own chapters and communities.  We were divided into eight different groups with whom we would be spending our time with throughout the week.  The groups were compiled with students from various universities and chapters.  Meeting students from across the nation broadened our horizons immensely allowing us to explore new ideas and learn from one another.

The next two days were spent discussing the ethics, values, and rituals that define our chapters.  Reflecting on the values that originally established our chapters allowed students to take a closer look at the beliefs that define a true Greek student.  We discussed the issues that were relevant within our communities and brainstormed possible solutions.  Inspirational videos were also a very important aspect of the processing.  Being able to see the extraordinary acts of Greek students was very motivating and encouraging.  The inspirational videos not only demonstrated the success of students but the opportunities that Greek life has given to the individuals.

On the third day, we had the opportunity to head Into the Streets.   A main part of the UIFI experience is community service.  Students were sent to several locations a homeless shelter, food bank, AIDS center, and family center.  I was sent to a branch of the food bank where they serve meals restaurant-style to members of the community who can not afford meals.  The restaurant is staffed by volunteers and run by a professional chef.  They serve meals in three separate shifts and allow patrons as though they are at a real restaurant.  As volunteers we helped set-up and serve customers through two separate shifts.  The experience really provided us with an opportunity to give back to others.

The fourth day was the action setting day, allowing students to reflect on what they can bring back to their chapters and communities.  Students met individually with advisors, talked with individual students, and had small group discussions regarding their experiences.  The end of the day was filled with a fun activity where students were taken down to Santa Barbara Pier to have a fun night away from campus.  Roller Coaster rides and carnival games truly added an exciting finish to the week.

Our last day at UCLA was bittersweet with graduation and goodbyes.  Everyone at the institute had impacted our lives and no one was ready to leave.  As soon as I was at the airport I realized how quickly the week had truly gone by.  I made lifelong friends, learned remarkable ideas, and become very appreciative to be a Coug!  Through the support of my chapter and Panhellenic Council I was able to share this experience with 75 other students.  The greatest thing that I will take away from this opportunity is my pride in our community and campus.