Greek community routinely turns out in high numbers for USG

The Greek community has a noticeably large presence in Undergraduate Student Government — the result, many say, of strong organization.

Of the four USG presidential tickets this year, two — Dylan Dann and Addison McCaleb and winners Chris Cheng and Nehi Ogbevoen — have ties to the Greek community. Combined, they captured 77 percent of the presidential vote, though only 22 percent of the study body is Greek.

This is not a coincidence — more than 55 percent of the Greek community voted in the election, accounting for 43 percent of the total votes.

Though none of the Greek councils are allowed to endorse candidates, Interfraternity Council President Eric Ronan, who oversees 1,990 males in 23 fraternities, said the two Greek-affiliated tickets made their platforms accessible to the most students.

“Both tickets did a great job of coming up with a clear and concise message that resonated with the USC undergraduate student population,” he said.

USG defines Greek voters as active members of USC-chartered fraternities or sororities belonging to the IFC, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council, Panhellenic or Asian Greek Council. Non-Greek students are considered to be residential if they live in the 90007 or 90089 zip codes, and commuters if they do not.

Of the 4,684 votes cast in the presidential race, 49 percent came from residential voters, 43 percent from Greeks and 8 percent from commuters. USC Student Affairs calculates the current student body composition as 37 percent residential, 22 percent Greek and 40 percent commuter.

A factor in the large Greek turnout, some say, might be the system’s organizational structure, which allows candidates to quickly address groups of 200 people by attending house meetings.

President-elect Cheng said he tried to attend as many Monday night dinners as possible at the various fraternities and sororities.

“We met the large houses but also the small ones,” he said. “It took a lot of hustle and effort, but a lot of them really appreciated it and it showed in the results.”

Parker Adams, IFC’s vice president for public relations, said the large Greek turnout shows the community’s investment in the future of the university.

Adams also said the sense of community in the Greek system gives Greek candidates an advantage over other candidates.

“When you’re in need of the support of people from that network, they are able and willing to give it,” he said. “There’s nothing in the USC residential community quite like that other than shaking hands and kissing babies on Trousdale.”

Ronan said students in IFC fraternities are not voting for other IFC Greek males because they are told to or believe they need to, but rather out of a sense of having a better understanding and appreciation for a member of their own community.

“Not to say IFC Greek males don’t understand nor appreciate non-IFC members, but rather it is an issue of familiarity,” Ronan said. “Its just like when a democrat decides to vote for another democrat.”

Janice Kim, a sophomore majoring in communication, said, although she voted because one of the candidates came to her residence at Webb Tower and encouraged students to vote, others probably voted based on their group affiliations.

“A lot of students organizations like Greeks have issues they really care about, and they make sure they are heard by motivating members to vote,” she said.

Tommy Sander, a sophomore majoring in architecture, said the overall voter turnout reflects the underexposure of student government.

“I don’t see any of the changes student government produces, if any, so for me to even care about elections about someone who to me really doesn’t do much isn’t happening,” he said. “They get votes from where they get exposure.”

Sander said the high Greek participation highlights the fact that it is an organized system that can vote more as a unit.

Alex Schaff, a junior majoring in biology and economics and a member of an IFC fraternity, which he preferred not to disclose, said word-of-mouth about candidates travels faster in the small Greek community than in the larger university community.

“I just voted because I’m a Greek, a friend told me about a [candidate], and I wanted the Greek guy to win because I saw he had a lot of the same interests as me,” he said.