Written by Haley Horn, Contributor
Following the departure of Natalie Brewster, Associate Director of Student Activities for Sorority and Fraternity Life, Greek life remains without a true leader. This semester, conversations among Furman’s student body—especially those who participate in Greek Life—have often focused on how Furman intends to assure that fraternities and sororities are following the rules that Ms. Brewster previously enforced.
According to Anne Marie Sitton, Kappa Delta’s Panhellenic Delegate, Brewster’s departure was on the basis of a job opportunity at Bucknell University, another small liberal arts college in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Bucknell’s website introduces Ms. Brewster as the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. Sitton also noted that Brewster’s last day working at Furman was the second day of classes this year after she had sent in a resignation letter over the summer. Although members of the Greek community on campus were skeptical about her seemingly sudden departure, Ashley Hall, President of the Panhellenic Executive Council, refers to her move to Bucknell as “no different from that of any other employee.” Hall also explains that the new job at Bucknell is a promotion from Ms. Brewster’s work here at Furman.
In Ms. Brewster’s absence, Jessica Berkey-Barnes has assumed the temporary position of interim Associate Director of Student Activities for Sorority and Fraternity Life. Ms. Barnes’ official position at Furman, as listed on the school website, is Director of Student Activities. Notably, this is not the first time Ms. Barnes has stepped up to the plate. Several years ago, prior to the hiring of Ms. Brewster, she served in this position as well.
With the combined effort of students on the executive Panhellenic board and Ms. Barnes’ supervision, Furman Greek Life has persevered despite recent changes. That said, the search for a new director is currently in full swing. The group has been narrowed down to just three candidates from a pool of 40 applicants for the position, noted Sitton. Now, these candidates are answering students’ questions and concerns as the next phase in the application process begins. Hall indicated that the decision to allow student interaction with the candidates “demonstrates the administration’s understanding of the value of students’ relationships with the individual who holds this position.”
When it comes to the student body’s feelings about welcoming a new director, responses are mixed. According to Sam Macey, Vice President of Community Relations for the Interfraternity Council, Brewster was well liked. Macey added that “I enjoyed working with Natalie and our whole council wishes she was still here.” Hall also supported this statement, saying, “I speak for all the students who worked with her when I say we miss having her at Furman.”
Although the executive boards of Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council seem to regret Brewster’s departure, many other members of Greek life seem to be glad that she is gone. One student, a member of her chapter’s executive board, said, “Natalie was extremely stringent in the paperwork process and made it difficult to complete simple tasks.” Another member of a different chapter’s executive board claimed, “she played favorites and made decisions based on which fraternity or sorority she liked the most.”
In sum, the mixed emotions surrounding Brewster’s departure seem to show the need for an equally qualified, if not more qualified, individual to take her place and navigate the complex landscape of Greek life at Furman. Expectations for the new hire vary broadly between members of the executive board—who seem to want to cautiously construct on Brewster’s tenure —and lower level Greek life delegates who are calling for changes to how the entire Greek life system is handled.