Independents scarce in Connections

Sydney Cromwell, Editor-in-Chief

Over 260 students applied to be Connections leaders this year. Those selected to greet the freshmen of fall 2015, however, will be primarily Greek.

Paige Acker, the coordinator of student activities and campus events, said Greek students typically fill more Connections roles than independents. She could not release exact numbers because of privacy concerns for the applicants, but Acker noted independent females were particularly scarce.

“I think our team would have loved more independents,” Acker said.

She said the selection process focuses on GPA, values record and personality, not Greek affiliation. Fewer independents apply for Connections positions, Acker said, and she believes it’s partially due to lack of interest and difficulty in reaching people.

Unlike Greek chapters, who have specific channels to distribute information among their students, independents do not have a formal organization.

Acker said she reached out to Dudes-A-Plenty, Indie Ladies, the Office of Spiritual Life and Campus Recreation to promote the Connections applications, as well as Greek chapters and the weekly Campus Connections email.

“The Greek side always tends to be more interested in the role,” junior religion major and Connections coordinator Mark David Bradford said.

Bradford is an independent, and he noted that many independent males are returning as Connections leaders this year.

Junior religion and history double major Walker Edmondson is entering his second year as a Connections leader. As an independent male, he said he hasn’t seen a bias toward Greek students.

However, senior human development and family science major Melanie Neff senior music and worship major Jules Huff said Greek students tend to fill more of the Connections roles. Both are independent and two-year veterans of Connections, and Huff was one of the 2014 coordinators.

“When I was a coordinator, more people that are involved in Greek life applied than people that are independent. We actively tried to reach out to independent people to encourage them to apply,” Huff said.

Senior journalism and mass communication major Rachel Stanback is a Phi Mu and was a two-year Connection leader. She agreed that the problem is lack of interest, not outreach.

“Efforts should continue to be made to make sure Connections leaders are an accurate reflection of the student body,” Stanback said.

“However, if the standout applicants happen to be Greek, it would be unfair to them to deny them that position in an effort to even out the percentages.”

According to statistics from the Office of Campus Life, which were compiled as part of the plans for Panhellenic expansion, 42 percent of Samford’s campus is part of Greek life. This includes 70 percent of the fall 2014 freshmen females.

Acker said student involvement is always an issue. Her office put fliers in every student mailbox for Step Sing committee applications, but only 10 students applied. She said she would welcome suggestions to reach independents and other students across campus.

“I would love to hear how independents are hearing about these roles,” Acker said.

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