On Wednesday, April 26, 2017, members of Greek life gathered at Galloping Hill Caterers for the annual Greek Banquet to celebrate the year's accomplishments and honor standout organizations and students.
The event has been hosted by the Greek Senate for as long as the group has been in existence, which is over twenty years, as per Assistant Director of the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) Alex Louis.
The Greek Senate is an organization under the CLS that promotes cooperation among all Kean University's Greek organizations through various programs and activities. The organization also serves as the governing body in regards to standards, policies and procedures of Greek affairs.
With 17 unique sororities and 16 unique fraternities at Kean, there is an organization for everyone to be a part of. Between promoting involvement on campus and the development of a support group through the sisters and brothers in the organization, being involved in Greek life can open many doors and opportunities for students.
And the Greek Banquet celebrates just that: the ability for individual and groups of organizations to work together to make a difference and achieve a goal.
President of Kean's Greek Senate Ashley Buchanan shared that all recognized Greek organizations and the organizations' corresponding advisers are invited to the Greek Banquet every year.
Louis also invites notable faculty members and staff who has consistently supported the Greek Senate in its endeavors during the school year.
"A good example of this would be, Alex had invited the Zumba instructors who participating in KDM [Kean Dance Marathon] this year to come to the banquet as guests," Buchanan said.
Buchanan is a senior majoring in psychology and psychiatric rehabilitation.
For the banquet, Greek Senate covered the cost for two members of each organization attending. Additional members attending were required to pay $25.
"The banquet is a time where Greek Senate is able to honor and recognize all of the organization's effort, commitment and hard work spent over the course of the 2016-2017 school year, regardless if they receive an award or not," Buchanan said.
Doors opened for the even at 5 p.m. and attendees dressed in their formal or semi-formal attire began making their entrance. The DJ was playing music as the Greeks mingled and slowly began taking their seats with their organizations. A slideshow continuously ran, highlighting various events and organizations throughout the year.
The space is very elegant, and blue and yellow napkins added color to the tables along with floral centerpieces. At the front of the dance floor stood a long table lined with trophies, KDM t-shirts, awards and gift bags, all that would be given out later during the event.
Guests continued to trickle in and signed in at the front welcome table. Tables were reserved for faculty advisers and CLS staff, but guests were allowed to sit wherever they and their organization pleased.
Upon the clock striking 6 p.m., Louis took the microphone and welcomed everyone. He spoke about Greek life's successful year at Kean including National Awards, Greek Olympics, Greek Conference, KDM and 178 Greek students having over a 3.0 GPA.
He then presented a motivational video to go with the theme of the night: It's Possible.
"It's possible, it's possible, it's possible, remember that," Louis said.
Louis then welcome Scott Snowden, director of the CLS, to the podium where he commemorated the Greeks on their accomplishments throughout the year and reflected on some standout moments.
He reflected on KDM, how Kean has implemented risk reduction initiatives therefore cutting down on negative media, the increase in academic achievement and the growth smaller organizations leading up to the university's goal to double the size of Greek life from 300 to 600 students.
"Youe organization's greatness has not been reached yet; it's going to get better from here," Snowden said.
He continued to talk about how all of the individual organizations come together as a group to fulfill one vision.
"You are raising the bar for Greek life in general," Snowden said.
Louis introduced Vice President of Standards and Conduct Jasleen Molina. She sent her thanks to Louis and Greek Affairs Graduate Assistant Lauren Rosenthal and also congratulated the graduating seniors.
After this, guests were invited to begin eating dinner. Dinner was served buffet style with salads, paella, pasta and a carving station, among other dishes.
After attendees were given time to enjoy dinner, the fraternities were invited to stand on the right and the sororities to stand on the dance floor. Alessia Cara's Scars To Your Beautiful song and inspiring video about self image was played as a dedication to the members of the sororities.
At 7 p.m. the awards ceremony began with Tiffany Wang, MC and vice president of rush and new member development on the Greek Senate, introducing the 178 Greeks whose GPA is over a 3.0 and provided a rep from each organization a certificate for each student being recognized.
Plaques were given to the male and female student with the highest GPA. Patrick Misale of Nu Sigma Phi and Megan Edwards of Delta Phi Epsilon were recognized for this honor.
The ceremony continued with more awards and recognition for outstanding achievement. The awards and their recipients(s) are as follows:
Vice President for Student Affairs Outstanding Contribution to Student Life Award: Lambda Theta Alpha with "Aspire High"
Greek Affairs Academic Achievement Award: Delta Phi Epsilon and Psi Sigma Phi
Recognition of the Most Community Service Hours: Delta Phi Epsilon and Nu Sigma Phi
Greek Affairs Outstanding Community Service Project: Nu Delta Pi with its suicide awareness program "See You Tomorrow"
Faculty Adviser of the Year: Gregory Benedict, advisor of Nu Delta Phi
Outstanding New Sorority/Fraternity Member: Vanessa Lupo of Theta Phi Alpha and Thomas Benedict of Nu Delta Pi
Sorority Sister/Fraternity Brother Of the Year: Julia Frank of Sigma Beta Chi and Robert Riccio of Nu Delta Pi
Five Star Program Recipients:
First: Nu Delta Pi
Second: Lambda Sigma Upsilon
Third: Sigma Theta Chi
First: Delta Phi Epsilon
Second: Mu Sigma Upsilon
Third: Sigma Beta Chi
Greek Olympics Trophies:
First: Theta Phi Alpha
Second: Nu Theta Chi
Third: Delta Phi Epsilon
First: Nu Sigma Phi
Second: Sigma Theta Chi
Third: Nu Delta Pi
Brenna Stangle was the recipient of the Sue Beron Scholarship presented by Omega Sigma Psi.
Throughout the ceremony, advisers and faculty attending the banquet were introduced and given a gift of appreciation for their help and support as well.
Louis, Rosenthal and Kayla Pagnani conducted the KDM presentation and awards recognition. Pagnani has been Kean's contact from the Children's Specialized Hospital for the past two years.
"Every time we call, she's right there," Louis said.
The highest sole donors for KDM included:
First: Brett Coleman of Nu Delta Pi raised over $5,000
Second: Ashley Solla of Delta Phi Epsilon raised $2,115
Third: Manar Eldeeb of Delta Phi Epsilon raised $1,650
Louis recognized new student groups who became involved with KDM this year including highlighting the athletic teams who contributed.
Louis spoke about the highlights of KDM over the past four years and about how the goal has been raised every year, and surpassed, even when there were doubts leading up to the day of the event.
The Organizations that raised the most money were recognized as well:
First: Nu Delta Pi
Second: Sigma Theta Chi
Third: Nu Sigma Phi
Frist: Delta Phi Epsilon
Second: Theta Phi Alpha
Third: Nu Theta Chi
Louis announced a goodbye to Rosenthal, as she will be graduating this year and has worked with him for three years now. She stood out when applying for the graduate assistant position with Louis because she danced for 46 hours straight at Penn State's Thon.
President elect of the executive board for the 2017-2018 school year, Abanoub Nakhla introduced the members of the executive board and provided a song for each person when announced and invited them to the front.
He thanked the current executive board and student workers involved in making Greek life a success. The current board thanked Louis and Rosenthal. For anyone who knows Alex Louis, the gifted tie embroidered with "Thank You Buddy" on it was the perfect gift for him.
After Louis closed the ceremony with thank yous, he opened the dance floor for the night.
"Now, we may dance," Louis said.
All in all, the banquet served as a reflection of not only the success of Greek life in the past year, but of how far these organizations have come. This night serves as motivation to being striving for and succeeding in the following year, which starts now.
"It's all about motivating our Greek community to keep striving for bigger and better goals, and acknowledging the ones they have already attained," Buchanan said.