Phi Kappa Psi’s Greg McNicholas was elected as Penn State’s Interfraternity Council 2021 president last semester. As his term begins this spring, McNicholas is ready to take on the role with open arms and has a vision for how he wants this year’s Greek life to run.
We sat down with McNicholas to ask him about his new position, his goals for his term, and what it’s like to be IFC president during a global pandemic.
Onward State: What made you initially interested in joining Greek life at Penn State?
Greg McNicholas: As a freshman, by the time spring recruitment rolled around, I found myself in a position where I was enjoying my time at Penn State but was looking for more. The Greek community boasted a sense of family and togetherness that was unmatched. I knew that rushing and joining a fraternity could provide me with a second family, and really create that ‘making a big school small’ feeling. I loved the idea of joining an organization where you are given the tools to build yourself up into countless leadership opportunities, it was a no-brainer.
Joining Greek life was one of the best decisions of my life, second only to choosing to go to Penn State, and I hope to instill that same passion in other students as IFC president.
OS: What made you want to run for IFC president, especially during a global pandemic?
GM: In the two and half years alone that I’ve been a member of the Greek community, I’ve watched continuous improvement across the board. We are in a new era of Greek life, and I see it as my duty to continue to build upon the legacy that former presidents Nate Brodsky and James Brady left. Our community has tremendous opportunities to offer, and our members are capable of incredible things. I wanted to be the person that can share that with the Penn State community as a whole so that others can see the Greek life that I see.
In the context of the pandemic, it didn’t really play into my decision. I’m generally a pretty positive guy and I see it as another challenge any leader needs to overcome. We’ve done well adjusting so far, and I hope to continue on that while prioritizing the health and safety of the entire Penn State community.
OS: Did you hold any previous positions on the IFC or in your own chapter that gave you a foundation for leadership as you take on this new position?
GM: I served as the chapter president for Phi Kappa Psi from Spring 2020 to Fall 2020. The roles are certainly different but being chapter president definitely created my leadership style. Being a chapter president provided me with a greater understanding of Greek life at Penn State, how it works, and who its stakeholders are.
In addition to that knowledge, it prepared me to be able to make the right decisions as any situation comes up—you’re tasked with speaking on behalf of a large group of people, and you have to be able to confidently advocate for them, and I think my experience at Phi Psi helped shape my ability to do that.
OS: What has been your best Greek life memory so far?
GM: My experience with Penn State Greek life is full of awesome memories, but I think my favorite had to have been sophomore year homecoming. A bunch of alumni from all different years came back for a dinner at the house. Hearing about their experiences decades ago and being able to see them reunite with old friends as if they were still at Penn State is awesome. I really think it shows the network and support system you can get out of Greek life, and it was a blast to hear all of their stories.
OS: How does coronavirus make the challenge of being IFC president different?
GM: I see it as an additional piece to factor into every idea and conversation I have. Beforehand, you had to think about who a decision might affect, how it could impact the community, and what you need to make it happen. Now, it’s all of that, plus ensuring that everything is within local, state, and federal guidelines and that the people affected by the decision are safe.
OS: How do you plan to collaborate with the rest of the IFC executive board?
GM: With the addition of our new vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion, the IFC now has 11 people on the executive board. Each VP has a specific role with initiatives that they spearhead, but I am big on collaboration and teamwork.
The IFC executive board is meant to be the advocate for the IFC’s general membership, so I feel that it’s necessary to include the entire board on big decisions. Getting the 10 VPs in a Zoom and hearing out every idea leads to better ideas, and ultimately a better IFC.
OS: What advice would you give to other chapter presidents and their executive boards?
GM: As a former chapter president, the best advice I can give is to be confident in all of your decisions. You were elected to lead your chapter, and your membership trusts you to act on their best interests—trust yourself and stand by your decisions. Use your head, delegate to your board, and do the right thing. Aside from that, use the IFC Board as a resource. We’re here to help our members and all of the chapter presidents.
OS: Did outgoing IFC President Nate Brodsky give you any advice for this position?
GM: I was elected in late September, and between then and Greek council installations, we talked pretty much every day. We would talk a lot about the Greek life we envision for the future, and how to go about making that vision a reality. Brodsky had a transition program that he created for the entire board that was incredible. We were able to bounce ideas off each other and it really gave me a sense of what the role would be like.
OS: How will rush be affected this year with the coronavirus?
GM: Recruitment will be the same as it was last semester, entirely virtual. Virtual recruitment is obviously different from traditional in-person recruitment, but it is equally as effective. PNMs will have plenty of opportunities to talk to active members and find the right fit for them. The IFC is very excited about this semester’s recruitment and the VP of New Membership Nick Russo has done an awesome job so far.
The only recent change is that because campus is closed until February 15, the board proposed a two-week shift of recruitment dates (registration closes February 7) that the chapter presidents voted in favor of in order to give more time for actives to prepare, in addition to easing the stress from moving back to school for students who live on campus.
OS: Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, what would you be and why?
GM: Definitely a T-rex. They’re big, loud, and take charge any place they go.