Athens to Fargo: Greek Life and Student Body Elections

WHITNEY STRAMER | THE SPECTRUM Eric McDaniel (pictured) and his running mate, Josh Fergel, are members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
Eric McDaniel (pictured) and his running mate, Josh Fergel, are members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Historians often cite Athens, Greece, as the birthplace of democracy.

This Greek philosophy continues some 8,000 years later this spring at North Dakota State.

For the third time in as many years, at least one member of North Dakota State Greek life will hold the highest ranks of student government.

Eric McDaniel and Josh Fergel, both members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, are vying for student body president and vice president, respectfully.

Their ticket is opposing Robert Kringler and Aaron Weber, a duo of Delta Tau Delta members running for president and vice president, respectfully.

WHITNEY STRAMER | THE SPECTRUM Robert Kringler (pictured) and his running mate, Aaron Weber, are members of Delta Tau Delta.
Robert Kringler (pictured) and his running mate, Aaron Weber, are members of Delta Tau Delta.

Fraternity presidents

Diedrich Harms has been a member of SAE for over two years. He has resided as president since last semester.

Harms said though SAE cannot officially support a ticket like McDaniel and Fergel’s, the fraternity backs their brethren, nonetheless.

“A lot of members of the fraternity do happen to support (McDaniel and Fergel) running and their platform because they know them so well,” Harms said. “ … There are a handful of brothers who are on their team and are helping them through campaigning.”

Volunteering for campaigning happens through friendship, not associated organizations like SAE, Harms said.

The same campaign rules apply in Delta Tau Delta, fraternity president Connor Baker said.

“Delts and Student Government are two completely separate entities, and members can choose to help as they wish,” Baker said. “Robert and Aaron asked for our help in their campaign, but it would never be required.”

Baker also said some members of DTD are helping Kringler and Weber campaign.

Both Baker and Harms said while their respective brethren could hypothetically work with the other ticket’s campaign, neither know of anyone doing so.

Presidential hopefuls

While he was very active in Greek life leadership, McDaniel said he became active in student government just this year.

“I didn’t really know what they were doing, so I wanted to see what I could do,” he said, “And see what I could change.”

McDaniel said SAE has helped his ticket mostly through support.

“They help us out a lot,” McDaniel said. “ … At the end of the day, they check in with you – which is really nice.”

Kringler said the same of DTD.

“The Greek community as a whole is pretty tight-knit,” Kringler said.

Kringler was his pledge-class president at DTD when he joined the newly founded fraternity his first semester.

Kringler and Weber are the second all-DTD ticket; Robbie Lauf and Erik Diederich ran unopposed two years ago.

Greek supremacy

Fraternity presidents and student body election hopefuls had differing thoughts on why Greek life is predominant in student government and elections.

“It’s interesting. A lot of the people involved in Greek life are going to be more likely to want to be involved in more of that kind of (leadership) sphere on campus. They inherently have a connection there,” Kringler said. “Because of that, it’s also really important that our student leaders who are Greek – or even those who aren’t – should start working out of that bubble.”

McDaniel said both Greek life and student government foster leadership.

“The awesome leadership opportunities that develop a leader can be found” in both organizations, McDaniel said.

Harms said he thinks the bubble is created in part by the prototypical students looking for change.

“I think students who want to get involved and make an impact often get into Greek Life to open their eyes to other possibilities,” Harms said. “ … Running for a position in Student Government illustrates that perfectly.”

Whether the link between Greek life and student government is positive or a negative lies in the eyes of the beholder.

“It can be a negative at time because it’s easy to get stuck in that sphere. It’s important to branch out to all spheres,” Kringler said. “ … Greek life can get a bad rap nationally … but it’s a positive at NDSU. I’m proud to be Greek; I’m proud to be a Delt.”

Baker said he shared similar thoughts.

“As long as Greeks have a passion for service and leadership I think we will continue to see them on the ballot,” he said.

Today’s leaders

The 2014-15 president and vice president ticket has one Greek life member.

In her first semester at NDSU, Hilary Haugeberg joined Kappa Delta.

Haugeberg, who is finishing her term as vice president, said Greek life greatly helped her campaign last spring.

Echoing the fraternity presidents, she said there is no rule that barred her KD sisters from campaigning with the opposing ticket. However, Haugeberg said she knew of no dissenting members.

She said, among other supportive actions, almost all of her sisters changed their Facebook profile pictures to support Haugeberg and her running mate, President Sarah Russell.

Russell, who has never been in Greek life, said not being involved with sororities or fraternities should not factor into who runs for student government or elections. But the correlation doesn’t surprise her.

“Students who seek out high involvement like Greek life are also students that would seek out an opportunity to run for student body elections,” she said.

Haugeberg said while she sees the correlation as more random than anything, she supports students both Greek students and nonmembers.

“You do not have to be involved in fraternity and sorority life to run for office, or be involved in student government,” she said. “Diversity is a good thing!”

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