Extending an Olive Branch: Building Community among Non- Greek and Greek Students

Lindsay Byrnes, Contributing Writer

Many non-Greek and Greek Affiliated students gathered together in the Langone Center’s Center Room on Feb. 11 to share a meal and conversations regarding many issues present on campus. This month, a team of non-Greek and Greek members worked together to plan the event’s conversation, invite campus community members, and encourage participation in the conversation.


Once all of the guests were seated at randomly assigned tables, the event facilitators started the event by giving a quick introduction of the main topics for discussion. The main topics included “Do Greek and non-Greek students live in “parallel universes” on campus? If so, what do such “parallel universes” look like? Is it possible for Greek and non-Greek students to share friendships and a vibrant social life with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of the diverse perspectives that exist among students?”


The majority of the dinner was centered around small table conversations regarding questions that were posed on index cards placed on each table. Each table discussed one index card and then the entire room came together to discuss all of the questions before moving onto the next one. Many ideas for action were brought up during the fluid conversation to bridge the gap between non-Greek and Greek students.


“Each Community Dinner theme is identified by the host group. I was very pleased when this group proposed a dinner addressing diversity as it relates to Greek-affiliated and independent students. In many conversations about diversity, questions about inclusion and Greek life, or diversity and Greek life have been posed. Are Greek letter organizations inclusive? How might they be more inclusive? Do Greek-affiliated students talk to independent students about diversity and inclusion within Greek life? What benefits and insights might result if these conversations happen? Through this dinner, we hope to find out,” Associate Provost for Diversity Bridget Newell said, who has been a large part of facilitating the Community Dinner Program.


The Community Dinners are an ongoing effort by the University to build a stronger sense of community on the University’s campus. The main objective of the Community Dinners is to help the university create and maintain a more inclusive and culturally competent community, to connect those interested in building a sense of community, to address institutional concerns, to learn and respond to what the campus community feel needs to be discussed, and to share and learn from one another.


The Dinners are held once a month, and each month a different campus group hosts the event. They are an opportunity for various students and faculty members to share a meal and discuss many issues relevant to the University community. They are also a great opportunity for students and faculty to interact and get to know one another outside of the classroom or office.

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