Penn State’s Interfraternity Council elected its next president next month. And although Acacia’s Nate Brodsky doesn’t begin his term until next semester, he has a clear vision of what he wants to accomplish during his term and where he sees Greek life headed in the future.
We sat down with Brodsky to ask him a couple of questions about his new position, his goals for next year, and what it’s like to be Acacia’s frat hound. Here’s what he had to say:
Onward State: What made you initially interested in joining Greek life at Penn State?
Nate Brodsky: I was introduced to it by my older brother who was a senior when I was a freshman. He was president of my fraternity, Acacia, during the Beta incident.
When I visited Penn State, I always was at Acacia where I met some of the guys and they were awesome. Initially, I just wanted to be a member and not become super involved. I had no intention of eventually becoming president of my chapter let alone of the IFC. My mantra is everywhere you go in life, be aware of the opportunities that present themselves, take advantage of those to leave a legacy. I saw Greek Life as a great opportunity to help myself grow as a person.
OS: IFC President is a position that comes with a lot of responsibility and a more public life. What made you want to run for this position?
NB: I wanted to be the person that could be Greek Life’s greatest advocate. I want to build on the legacy of former presidents James Brady and John Lord to help Greek Life evolve and grow. I’m willing to stand in front of a camera and show the world all the amazing things members of Greek life can do.
Through my internships, I’ve acquired valuable interpersonal skills and an understanding of corporate structure. I’ve already cultivated great relationships with university officials as president of Acacia and hope to build on them now as IFC president. I enjoy working with the school and favor a holistic approach of organizational well-being. For me, I think it’s important to focus on the individual because if we focus on each member and what they can do themselves the whole IFC will flourish.
OS: Did you hold any previous positions on the IFC or in your own chapter that give you a foundation for leadership as you take on this new position?
NB: I acquired the majority of the skills and knowledge I have about Greek life from my tenure as president of Acacia, which is the largest fraternity by members at Penn State. Running such a large organization gave me experience in dealing with different committees and delegating tasks.
I like to take the initiative and bring positive change. During my presidency, my chapter instituted its first standards board in its history to adjudicate disciplinary matters. Last year, I served as an Internal Audit Consultant for the IFC. We were essentially a group of advisors that helped the IFC review its policy decisions and focused on organizational structure and development.
Through my roles with the IFC and Acacia, I built relationships with vice president of Student Affairs Damon Sims and the new director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Chris Jefferson. We share a lot of perspectives on the direction of Greek life and I look forward to working with them further.
OS: Hazing continues to be a widespread problem not only at Penn State, but at universities across the country. What do you see as the IFC’s role in solving this problem?
NB: The IFC will continue working with the university to combat hazing at Penn State. It is our job to tell new members that they have the power to speak up and say no if they are being hazed and that they have the right to report it to the relevant authority.
Penn State has done a phenomenal job in working with the IFC to make sure hazing is flushed out here. I always thought that if you offered a new member a bid, you were accepting them into your brotherhood. I never understood the psychology of treating a new member poorly. It’s the job of the IFC, especially its executive members, like me, to be a very vocal voice for change. I think IFC VPs should attend every informational session for prospective new members and share this mantra because hearing it from us will be more influential in the long run.
OS: If your house chef could only make one dinner for the rest of eternity, what would it be?
NB: Chef Nick Flego makes a famous blackened chicken with Aioli. Healthy and tastes great!
OS: Outgoing IFC president JP Brady is also a member of your chapter. What advice did he give you as you take over his mantle, and what do you think you can improve upon from his tenure?
NB: One big thing me and JP talked about was corporate transparency with the university. I want to take an overarching approach to transparency with the university and the public. One thing JP focused on that I want to continue, is forging greater unity between chapters and to working together to solve problems.
JP is one of the most composed and articulate people I’ve ever met. He was great at ensuring cross=council communication. At this point, we’re in a time of change, and we’re supposed to be the pioneers for the future of Greek life in the United States as a whole. I hope to build on what JP started and show the public what we’re about. From philanthropy to community service I want people to know Greeks at Penn State are doing great things.
OS: Last semester, the IFC decided to pilot a shortened new member process for the next two years. What spurred this change and how will the IFC enforce this new policy?
NB: The IFC saw this as the right thing to do and it shows we are committed to change at Penn State. We wanted to be one of the leaders in the country with mitigating risk in the new member process, but this is baby steps. In the grand scheme of things this pilot program is just the first step, there’s a lot of things we can do better to make the new member process safer at Penn State.
I know that this change will last way beyond my term. To implement this policy, the IFC has tons of resources at our disposal. With shortening the process from six to four weeks, there was some debate over the effect on new member education and some chapter presidents expressed concern, but ultimately support for the policy was unanimous.
The IFC will do everything it can to help chapters adjust, whether it’s working with the school or individual chapters. My exec board and I look forward to discussing the best strategies for implementing this policy.
OS: You’ll have a significant impact on shaping the community in your role this year. What do you see as the ideal future for Penn State Greek life in five years?
NB: Five years from now, I would love to see Penn State well into a new era of Greek life that’s a model for the rest of the country — ethical, but also realistic. Overall, it is a safe and controlled environment that has an accountable culture but is also enjoyable and attractive to its members as a whole.
I want to see a community that attracts scholars and leaders on campus who want to have a positive impact on campus culture. I want community to be the best facet of Greek life in a future where all houses interact and hold events together. We are at a crossroads right now, and I want to be able to say we have the best relationship with our stakeholders.
OS: Does your house have a frat hound and what is a typical day in said hound’s life?
NB: My big owns a dog named Louie. A day in his life goes a little something like this: He spends most of the day sleeping and relaxing on couches looking for people to rub his belly and give him treats. He’ll sneak into the kitchen at every opportunity and beg Chef for snacks. Once a day, he is taken to Sunset Park for a brief hike and to chase squirrels. He’s a friendly face around the house during the day, but at night becomes a guard dog barking at everyone he doesn’t know.
OS: Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, what would you be and why?
NB: I would be a velociraptor because I like how they travel in packs. They wander nomadically but are always with their squad.