Get to know your student leader: Magali Sanchez, Unified Greek Council President at Oregon State University

Executive Director of the Unified Greek Council, Magali Sanchez

Riley Youngman

Although Magali Sanchez, a senior in ethnic studies, describes herself as a relatively shy, and sometimes awkward person, those that know her hail her as a strong, passionate and outspoken individual.

Born in California, Sanchez was raised in Woodburn, Oregon, and grew up in a migrant family who worked harvesting fruits and vegetables. The second oldest child, Sanchez has four sisters and two brothers.  Sanchez visits her family whenever she has the opportunity.

“I have a big family and I’m really close with them, so I like being home,” Sanchez said.

According to Sanchez, Woodburn has a large population of migrant workers and one of the larger Latino populations in Oregon.  Because of this, Sanchez was deeply immersed in Latino culture while growing up and was not used to the culture at OSU when she first arrived.    

“It was as a bit of a culture shock at first when I got here.  It was hard to adjust.  But lots of different organizations on campus helped me with that though,” Sanchez said.

The first in her family to attend college, Sanchez has made the most of her time at Oregon State University.

Sanchez is the current executive director of the Unified Greek Council at Oregon State University, and has the honor of being the first to hold that position.  After restructuring over the last several years, Sanchez took on the role after the UGC

The UGC is an umbrella organization that governs multicultural Greek organizations on campus.  There are six organizations that exist under the UGC at OSU, including Kappa Delta Chi Sorority Inc, where Sanchez is a member.

According to Sanchez, the main differences between the Greek organizations under the UGC compared to what many see as “typical” Greek organizations is that the UGC organizations are un-housed, and are all founded with strong cultural and ethnic focuses.  But there are similarities as well she says, including Greek letters, a lot of community service, philanthropies, sometimes more hands on service, and social events.

“The history for a lot of these organization is that people felt a need for these organizations on campus,” Sanchez said.  “Being multicultural creates a different environment, you can connect with people that have gone through similar situations as you.”

In addition to her work with the UGC, Sanchez also works as the leadership liaison with the Center Cultural Cesar Chavez on campus.  

Sanchez found her way to ethnic studies her junior year after taking several classes relating to the field, and says the major is a perfect fit for her.  

“I really enjoy the classes and the professors and the knowledge they have,” Sanchez said.  “They have helped me make sense of my experiences as a student.  A lot of what they were teaching really connected and helped explain my experiences on and off campus.”

She is also pursuing a minor in Spanish.

“I am inclusive, I like ensuring people are a part of what we are doing or our conversations,” Sanchez said.  “One of the needs of people is to feel needed and a part of something bigger than themselves.”

After graduation, Sanchez plans on studying abroad and then attending graduate school.  Sanchez aspires to work in a job relating to ethnic studies, especially student affairs , as well as working with chicano and chicana students as well as the indigenous population.  

In her role as executive director, Sanchez works with the council to ensure the organizations have the resources they need to be successful, as well as fostering an inclusive community among the group.

Played soccer, tennis, reading.  Favorite book, “Ceremony” by Leslie Silko.

Sorority

Sanchez joined her sorority spring of her freshman year almost by accident.  After her roommate convinced her to check out Kappa Delta Chi, Sanchez was reluctant at first, but eventually was invited back and went through the extended process to become a member.  

“I took on some executive positions the following fall term, and began going to UGC meetings,” Sanchez said.  “UGC was in a time of transformation and reconstruction then though.”

Since she became involved with the council, UGC has adopted a new constitution and effectively the role of executive director was officially created, and Sanchez was elected to the position.  Sanchez praises the family atmosphere of the council.

“This keeps the council together.  The meetings are never serious, it’s like going and having a meeting with family,” Sanchez said.  “You are there with friends and discussing business at the same time.”

Although UGC operates under the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life at OSU, Sanchez says they haven’t always felt included.  However, this year is different, according to Sanchez.

“This is the first year we went on a retreat with Panhellenic, IFC and UGC, and this is the first time we really know the officers from the other councils,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez hopes that as relations with IFC and Panhellenic improve there will be more collaboration and communication between councils.

“Now with Leslie here I do feel we are a part of the CSFL, we have a better understanding of what IFC is and what Panhellenic is and that we can work together and bring a more unified Greek campus,” Sanchez said.  “Leslie is awesome.”

Leslie Schacht Drey, the director for the CFSL, has similar feelings for Sanchez.  

“[Sanchez] has a multitude of experiences that lend to her being an outstanding leader for the Unified Greek Council community,” Schacht Drey said.  “She is well connected at OSU and makes important contributions campus wide.”

Many people that have worked with Sanchez laud her ability to communicate ideas and bring about change.  Maiyee Yuan, a fifth year in microbiology, who works at the department of cultural engagement has known Sanchez for a few years, but hadn’t worked with her until this year.  

“When I met [Sanchez] UGC was going through a tough time of change, and it took a good group of people to build it back up to what it is today.  She has done a lot of work and dedication with this,” Yuan said.  “She creates community wherever she goes.”

“I’m all about talking about issues that people don’t want to bring up, won’t bring up.  I know what it is like to be left out of conversations that have a big impact on you,” Sanchez said.  “I make sure that things are talked about that need to be, it is not equitable to the people that are forgotten.”

One of the restrictions Sanchez says the UGC faces is the number of members compared to even just one organization in IFC or Panhellenic. There are around 40 individuals throughout the six total organizations under UGC.  Sanchez this has not stopped them from doing great things though.

“Numbers are important, but are process to join is long, and all the organizations are looking for quality over quantity.  All of our members, though they are limited, do a lot for the organizations,” Sanchez said.  “If our community continues to grow, that means those marginalized communities are growing at OSU as well.”

Sanchez’s personal goal is to see the universities recognition in the council increase.

“Our council has done a lot, but because we are small we don’t get a lot of recognition,” Sanchez said.  “When there is a conversation about Greek life, the conversation usually goes towards housed Greeks.  Non-traditional Greeks should get more recognition.

Social justice is  a topic Sanchez is passionate about and hopes to continue to work around.

“[Sanchez] has a rich social justice background and is a strong voice in advocating for her community,” Schacht Drey said.  “I appreciate her vision for the community, as well as commitment to improving inter-council relations.”

Sanchez says her personal experiences and leadership skills

We would like to continue to talk about social justice issues and continue in those efforts.

“Social justice has to come with students,” Sanchez said.  “It is an issue that the university and society as a whole needs to face and talk about.  That’s the first step, talking and acknowledging these are issues that are present, and taking accountability for that.”

I like to lead a lot of the things I do with a social justice lens.  A lot of my skills are from personal experiences, my leadership reveals a lot of my identity.  Being chincana, being the first in my family to go to college, a lot of people see that in my leadership and that is what attracts them to continue being a part of the things I do. I’m all about that family and love, that’s at the center of everything I do.  I’m accountable to myself, my family, and to the people I serve.  Accountability has to be at the forefront, your accountable to the students, to the organizations,

“Magali is a very passionate individual with all that she does.  As a coworker she is very passionate, very involved, and is not scared to speak out and speak her mind,” said Lorena Ambriz, a junior in sociology and the communications representative at the Center Cultural Cesar Chaves.  “She gives people a voice, a lot of the things we feel she says.  This work is very hard sometimes, but she still keeps her head up and remains positive.  

Elena Ramirez, a sophomore in ethnic studies and the graphic designer at Center Cultural Cesar Chaves met Sanchez this year.

“She represents UGC well and is very excited and passionate and very inclusive,” Ramirez said.  “She is very welcoming.  I had heard a lot about her before I met her, and she has lived up to my expectations.”