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Staying in the family
Sig-Ep member elected SGA president for fifth time in a row
The past five student body presidents, including newly elected Mostafa Elhaggar, have been members of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon. However, Student Body President Matt Desilets said there is no direct correlation between the fraternity and Student Government Association.
“It really has nothing to do with Sig-Ep,” Desilets said. “I joined SGA and then I started hanging out with the guys who were in Sig-Ep and they became some of my best friends. It’s not like internally we’re like, ‘we need the SGA president [to be in Sig-Ep.]’”
Former Student Body President Ben Cloutier was both Desilets’ and Vice President of Student Concerns Evangelos Milas’ big in Sigma Phi Epsilon. Milas is Elhaggar’s big. Continuing the family line, Elhaggar is newly elected Student Body Vice President Jonny Atkin’s big. Atkin is Freshman representative Joey Mullaney’s big.
About 68 percent of SGA members are affiliated with a Greek organization on campus, Desilets said. Though 26.16 percent of Quinnipiac students are Greek, Desilets does not think SGA is misrepresenting the undergraduate population.
“I don’t think Greek life has a real role in us representing students,” he said. “I just think it’s kind of more coincidental. It’s our job to be doing our best to represent all students.”
The student body presidents’ involvement in Sigma Phi Epsilon is “coincidental,” Elhaggar said.
“I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “I was in student government before I was in Sig-Ep and so was every student body president since I have been here.”
Cloutier was Milas’ mentor when he first joined SGA, but Milas said Cloutier never pushed Sigma Phi Epsilon on him.
“Just by hanging out with [Ben], I naturally gravitated to [Sig-Ep] by me looking up to him,” Milas said. “I would ask about it every now and then and he would just brush it off. In no sense was he ever like, ‘Hey listen, I really want you to do Sig-Ep.’”
Desilets said having Cloutier as a big was a reflection of their friendship more than anything.
“We both have like the same goofy personality, so he didn’t choose me to be his little because he thought I was going to be SGA president,” Desilets said. “I had expressed interest in [being student body president] before that, but Ben obviously is someone I look up to and he was a huge mentor for me, but it wasn’t because he was my big.”
Sophomore and Sigma Phi Epsilon member Andrew Brucella said he does not think his brothers’ involvement in SGA affects the organization.
“I know for example, one of our brothers [Matt Powers] just got…VP of Finance and I know that he keeps his fraternity separate from his SGA,” Brucella said. “He figures out a way to balance that out.”
Sophomore Sarah Kennedy, who is not affiliated with a Greek organization, said the majority of SGA members being Greek “absolutely” affects their ability to represent the student body.
“They might be a little more focused on maybe that aspect of things on campus,” she said. “I mean, you have most people representing that organization you’re clearly going to have some bias.”
Milas said he makes a point to not wear his letters around the office.
“I love being a member of Sig-Ep, but it’s not something I’m trying to push on to other people,” Milas said. “I think everyone has an understanding that we’re here to represent all the students and they leave any other affiliations at the door.”
Like Milas, Elhaggar said he did not join Sigma Phi Epsilon to “up his game” in SGA.
“The letters come second, the students come first 100 percent,” Elhaggar said.
Desilets said SGA always comes before his other involvements.
“In anything that I ever did in my role as student body president, I always just presented myself as the SGA president,” Desilets said. “I’m representing all students, so my personal interests aren’t really relevant.”
Freshman Alpha Delta Pi member Sydney Labombarda said Greek affiliation does not hurt SGA members’ ability to represent the student body. Yet, she said it could be hard for a student who is not in Greek life to run against a Greek candidate.
“If you’re up against someone who’s in a sorority you know their entire sorority is going to vote for them,” Labombarda said. “So that’s like 100-and-something votes for them already. You’re kind of at a huge disadvantage.”
Newly elected Senior Class Vice President and Sigma Phi Epsilon member Joe Kohle said being in a fraternity will not further someone’s campaign.
“Winning an election has nothing to do with if you’re Greek or if you’re not Greek,” Kohle said. “It has something to do with can you reach out to as many people to be able to explain to them why you think you’re the best candidate.”
Freshman John Piazza, who is not a member of Greek life, said the trend of the student body president being a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon is not a big deal.
“Why not?” Piazza said. “If they both have good ideas, it doesn’t matter where they come from.”