Ortiz: An ambitious plan for MGC at NU

Sterling Kossuth Ortiz, Senior Staffer

In November 2021, after a year of service, I prepared to exit my role as the third president of the modern republic of the Multicultural Greek Council. I wrote a plan for the council’s future, but I let those words languish in a dusty, private Google Doc. It’s time I shared my dreams for the future of the MGC at NU in the hopes I inspire someone else to take them up.

My plans are ambitious. The medium-term plan I want to see by the end of 2028 would be to have 10 MGC chapters with 10 members each and to have a contract for an outdoor physical space signed. By the end of 2033, I’d like to see 13 MGC chapters with at least 10 members each and to have the contract for an additional physical space, an MGC-themed building, signed.

The Multicultural Greek Council currently has five chapters with representation on the executive board, two Latino-founded fraternities, one Latina-founded sorority and two Asian-founded sororities. There are also three chapters that currently have no active members but wish to recruit at NU, including two Latina-founded sororities and one co-ed Latine fraternity.

To fulfill my dreams, a few things must happen. First, the current chapters must keep recruiting at a pace that can achieve and sustain double-digit membership. NU must also identify two other chapters that fit the needs of the university’s demographics and recruit at that same pace. Ideally, this would happen in five years to achieve 10 chapters with 10 members each.

When you combine the membership of all multicultural fraternities and sororities at Northwestern and compare them to the demographics of NU’s student body, we see a need to be more representative of our diverse community. All of our MGC chapters are Latine- or Asian- founded, and their members represent a single-digit percentage of the Latine and Asian student body. Our organizations need to recruit more for NU to have more student organizations for multicultural students, and Greek life could be a viable option for them. I firmly believe there are students who haven’t found a chapter who would be interested in learning more about a new or existing MGC chapter, or potentially even joining.

Every chapter has different values and cultures that appeal to different people. In my case, I was drawn to Omega Delta Phi’s commitment to community service. I also loved learning about the active house and its dedication to multiculturalism: I wanted to be part of a brotherhood that loved me when I seasoned chicken with Vegeta just as much as when I used adobo.

To accommodate a growing MGC, we would need a new physical space. Our sole physical space currently consists of one little room tucked in a corner of Norris’s ground floor. It looks out at the Lakefill, separated by a sea of students eating Wildcat Deli or Buen Día. It has a television, several tables with charging outlets and two new whiteboards. Our room seats about 20 people. While this space is functional, our council deserves better.

I believe establishing an outdoor space honoring my council’s past, present and future contributions is a dedication we deserve. One popular idea floating around in what I call NU’s “Grecosphere,” is a combination of a fire pit and a Greek probate space. The fire pit would be for social outings like bonfires, and the probate space would be the central space to reveal our new members and other significant announcements.

NU is planning to renovate Norris University Center’s East Lawn after renovating the ground floor for Starbucks to move in. I firmly believe the MGC should be part of those plans. If involving the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Association or the National Pan-Hellenic Council makes a better outcome for my council, then by all means, include them too.

MGC would also benefit from The Agora concept introduced at the University of Maryland, which occupies the former house of the Delta Deuteron chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi. The Agora isn’t a housing space: it aims to establish a space for the MGC and NPHC councils to hold events and meetings and, more importantly, build stronger relationships with members within and between councils.

With a $1.2 million investment from the University of Maryland and a full-time property manager, the new facility at Maryland aims to facilitate a physical space where students of color can find supportive and affirming communities and show institutional investment in their work. At NU, a proposal like this could help create stronger bonds between Greek members and provide a foundation for a community of inclusion.

Dreaming of a tomorrow I won’t wake up to, I am hopeful for the future of the MGC at NU. Despite the obstacles that may arise, we can realize our ambitions of expanding our membership and securing more adequate physical accommodations by dedicating ourselves to the task at hand. My sincere desire is that my vision for the future will inspire others to pursue their paths toward improving their respective organizations so that the legacy of our efforts will extend far beyond our lifetimes.

Sterling Ortiz is a SESP fifth-year. You can contact him at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.