The history of Greek letter organizations on campus is a long and storied one, beginning in 1954 with the opening of Delta Sigma Phi. But like everything at our dynamic, growing University, the numbers and roles of the Gannon Greeks has changed over time.
Today, 435 students are members of social Greek organizations on the Gannon University campus. They join for different reasons, but all enjoy the particular brotherhood or sisterhood that characterizes Greek life.
Tony DiPasqua ’10 knows all about that life. As a resident director, DiPasqua is the official adviser to Gannon’s seven fraternities and five sororities, working with members on the day-to-day operations of the organizations.
“You hear how Greek life prepares students to be honorable men and women and we ask what we can do to make that happen at Gannon University,” he said with fervor in his voice.
DiPasqua is all in on Greek life, but it wasn’t always so. “When I came to Gannon, I said I’d never go Greek.”
However, DiPasqua’s entry in 2008 was fairly typical. “I didn’t understand Greek life, but a lot of my closest friends were doing it. They were interested in leadership, brotherhood, service and philanthropy. It’s what I was looking for too.”
Those attributes inspired DiPasqua to become a charter member (a “Founding Father,” as he puts it) of the reconstituted and recolonized chapter of Delta Sigma Phi, and they inspire him still in his leadership role. “I stress accountability and community,” he said.
Both are growing among the Gannon Greek community. This Spring, the 12 fraternities and sororities did something they hadn’t done in more than 20 years. The organizations came together to plan, organize and execute a joint event.
That event, the Greek Ball, held at Erie’s Bayfront Convention Center, attracted more than half the members of the Gannon Greek community and raised more than $2,500 for the AJO Forever Foundation, an Erie-based organization named for Alyssa Josephine O’Neill and dedicated to raising epilepsy awareness.
DiPasqua calls this a landmark achievement that will build momentum for future large-scale community service projects by the Greeks.
These include a dance marathon to benefit Children’s Miracle Network planned for November 2016 and Panhellenic Council, which governs sororities, is exploring an initiative called Circle of Sisterhood.
Practical knowledge is part of the new Greek life at Gannon. A series of events called “1 in 200” will bring new and current brothers and sisters together in 40-60 sessions per semester to learn and discuss life skills, including networking with chapter alumni.
The renewed sense of focus and energy is taking hold. Greek organizations have reversed their recent decline in membership and added 130 members in the past year. Individual members are being recognized, too.
Sara Borro, a Gannon education major, was named as the Outstanding New Member by the national organization of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority, citing her “excellent spirit and attitude during the first year of membership, including willingness to accept responsibility, the ability to work well with other chapter members and a potential for taking leadership roles in the chapter and in the national organization once she graduates.”
Recognition on campus is a goal, too. DiPasqua cites Gannon’s Greek Man and Woman of the Year and Ward McCracken Chapter of the Year awards as momentum builders, as is the national "Rethink Greek" initiative of which Gannon’s Greeks are a part.
“It’s a blank slate for us where we can impact so many people—not just students, but the community and the nation,” DiPasqua said. “The students are so engaged. They’re driving the ship and making it happen.”