Tuesday, May 5, 2015

#UpForWhatever? More like #UpForIntegrity

By Shana Makos, Fraternal Values Society Coordinator

Call me a stick in the mud, but I’ve never been a huge fan of Bud Light’s #UpForWhatever campaign. It’s confusing. “The perfect beer for whatever happens.” What does that even mean?

The perfect beer for your grandmother’s funeral?
The perfect beer for watching a house burn to the ground?
The perfect beer for removing “no” from your vocabulary for the night?

Credit: Reddit
Oh, wait… that last one was actually a thing. It was one of the many slogans Bud Light had printed on bottles for their #UpForWhatever campaign.

Genius, wasn’t it?! Yeah… genius for providing the space for us to lament about how absolutely, utterly, insanely wrong that statement is. We’re not the first ones to take stabs at Bud Light’s poorly thought-out marketing. Individual consumers and media outlets alike have made it very clear that the slogan promotes rape culture. 

What we are the first to do, however, is use this as an opportunity to remind everyone that it is always okay to say “no” when you’re not actually #UpForWhatever, no matter the situation. Your individual consent extends to far more than instances of sexual assault (the primary perspective media outlines have taken on this snafu).

Ditching class.
Disrespectful behavior.

These are all instances in which you can (and should) say “no” when you know it’s not the right thing to do and don’t feel comfortable.

Bud Light’s faux pas reminds that that we need to educate each other about our right to say “no” in uncomfortable situations. There are always opportunities for you to speak up about injustices and not fall victim to the bystander effect. Do so with confidence and know that your national organizations will stand up for you when you’ve done the right thing.

Don’t just be #UpForWhatever. Be #UpForIntegrity.


Hazing prevention hotline and resources:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Don’t make the wrong call

By Darcy LeDoux, Texas Tech University

We all know the dangers of drinking and driving. We would never want to risk our lives—or anyone else’s for that matter—so we take the necessary precautions to avoid getting behind the wheel.

Better snag the list of volun, ahem, “pledges” serving as DDs for tonight’s party! That’s totally the responsible move because that’s what they’re here for, right?


Hold the phone. That’s the wrong call.

Serving as a designated driver is a common “rite of passage” and duty for new members on many campuses.  It’s also a common form of hazing that often gets over-looked. By utilizing these new members as designated drivers, we add fuel to the fire and enable hazing within our organizations. Think about it. You’re forcing another individual into something he or she may not want to do, but have to because of the pressure to become an initiated member.

By forcing our new members to assume the responsibility of taking care of and driving around our initiated members, we’re belittling them. A new member’s focus and responsibility is to learn how to fulfill the founding principles and values of their organization. As active brothers and sisters, we should be building up our newest members by showing our support for them, not on them. We should be teaching, guiding, and demonstrating to our members what it truly means to carry on the legacy of our brother or sisterhood.

So, if we shouldn’t call a new member for a ride, then what are we to do?

We take matters into our own hands. We step up and be responsible. Consider taking advantage of the free safe ride options your university might provide. Call a cab. Or, be the designated driver for one night… it’s not the end of the world. It’s easier to have fun when you know that everyone is safe and accounted for. There will always be another weekend, another party, and another night to have your fun. Have a rotating system with your friends, make a chart, do whatever you need to do, but don’t take advantage of new members for the sake of your own fun. 

As fraternity men and sorority women, we take an oath to be there for one another. Being a brother or sister is no different than being a good person. By holding ourselves accountable, we get to be the ones in control of ensuring the safety of our fellow members.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Six ways to create a stronger relationship with your headquarters staff

By Ryan Miller, Oklahoma State University

The inter/national headquarters for our organizations are some of the most important resources in fraternity and sorority life. Each inter/national office is structured differently and becoming familiar with how your organization is structured will help your chapter succeed. Of all staff members, you might be most familiar with the traveling consultants. You know… the ones who visit your chapter once a semester/quarter or year.

Each fraternity and sorority has different requirements to become a traveling consultant. While some hire recent graduates, others require their traveling staff to have a master’s degree and/or experience working in higher education. No matter how your fraternity or sorority sets up its traveling consultants, creating strong, positive relationships with these men and women is vital to the success of your chapter.   

Creating these strong relationships, however, can be difficult simply because of logistics—you might not see the consultants very often and it’s often not the same consultant who visits your chapter each time. That being said, here are some suggestions that will aid in helping you create strong relationships with these very important people:
  1. Take advantage of the time you have with your organization’s traveling staff when they visit. While they do have a lot get done during the visit, they spend a lot of time alone. Ultimately, they are still your brothers and sisters and want to experience that brotherhood or sisterhood outside of meetings with chapter officers and university staff. Introduce these representatives to your chapter and include them in activities such as sightseeing or meals. They will appreciate it!
  2. Invite staff members to big-ticket events such as homecoming or your alumni weekend.  Ask in advance for their travel schedule so you can plan to include them in events you’re proud of. Or, let them know when university activities are and maybe they can fit it in to their schedules.
  3. Encourage your members to apply for volunteer opportunities, internships, or full-time jobs with your inter/national office. Having chapter members with experiences working directly for your inter/national office provides a new perspective and will help you better understand the organization as a whole. Being on headquarters staff is hard work!
  4. Set up a monthly call with your traveling consultant or whoever works directly with your chapter on behalf of your inter/national office. I’m sure you exchange emails with him or her fairly often, but the personal touch of a phone call can help create a better relationship. 
  5. Meet deadlines and turn in your reports on time. Turning in report and other documents to your inter/national office on time not only helps staff review them on schedule, but it makes your chapter look good. Turning in reports late, or possible not at all, puts staff behind in their daily operations.
  6. Ask traveling consultants about their experiences. What was it like to be a member at their chapter? What’s it like to be a consultant? What will they do afterward? You can create a stronger relationship if you understand where they’re coming from.
For some of us, creating a positive relationship with our headquarters staff might seem a little daunting at first. However, remember that these staff members are here to help us succeed. The things you can learn from them might surprise you.

What have you done to improve or maintain the relationship your chapter has with your inter/national headquarters? Leave a comment below!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

3 Ways Joining Your University Greek Council Can Change Your Life

By Claire Lindsey, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 

Picture this: it is freshman year and you’ve joined the best chapter on campus (yours, of course). You’re beyond stoked to be a part of [INSERT ORGANIZATION HERE], because your brothers/sisters are the funniest, smartest, coolest kids on campus, and now you’re a part of that amazing group. After bid night, everything is about your organization, your sisterhood or brotherhood and your philanthropy.

That’s how my freshman year went. But, as I headed into my junior year, I realized I wanted more. I wanted to play a role not only in my own chapter, but in the Greek community. So, I applied for Panhellenic and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in college. Here are 3 ways joining your campus Greek council can change your life.

1.   You meet friends outside your own chapter.
My sorority sisters are the bomb.com. They’re my best friends and my future bridesmaids. But, upon being elected to Panhellenic, I met some of the greatest women I’ve ever known. These women are hardworking, dedicated members of Greek Life, and more importantly, we can openly discuss the complex and confidential dealings in the Greek community. 
Being on a Greek Council also fosters friendships outside your immediate circle. Our councils interact at conferences, in the Greek Life office, or even just at social events, and the men and women on those councils have become some of my greatest friends. No matter what council you’re a part of, knowing you have at least one friend in every sorority and fraternity on campus is a damn good feeling.

2.   You get to meet awesome, important people.
At a school of more than 20,000 undergraduates, I never imagined I would be on a first name basis with the Dean of Students or the Vice President of Student Affairs, and it really never even occurred to me that I might have any type of personal relationship with the PRESIDENT OF MY ENTIRE UNIVERSITY. But, surprise, surprise, Panhellenic has given me that too. Being on Panhellenic has opened up my world to people who can literally change the course of my college career. Last week, I received an email from the VP of Student Affairs, who was congratulating me on a speech I made at a City Council meeting. ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE AT MY COLLEGE KNOWS WHO I AM!?!

3. You realize that you can actually make a difference in your community.
Recently, the news has been filled with stories about sexual assault, racism, and hazing incidents in fraternities and sororities all over the country, and those stories ruin the reputation of these organizations as a whole. Before I became a member of Panhellenic, I was never sure that I could change those stereotypes, because I assumed it was a part of being Greek. But now, I realize that I was wrong. Change is possible. I’ve only been on Panhellenic for one quarter, and already I’ve been a part of the plans to change college culture; plans that combat sexual assault on our campus; plans to ensure safer social environments for students; plans to educate members on drinking habits and alcohol awareness prior to going through recruitment. These plans are already in place—and being a part of those plans makes me incredibly proud.
So, if you’re thinking that you’re a dedicated, passionate, driven member of Greek Life who wants to make a change, think about applying for your Greek council. You can make an impact, make some great friends, and some great memories in the process.

I want to dedicate this to the amazing women and men on Panhellenic and IFC at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. You are all some of the greatest people I’ve ever met, and I can’t wait to continue our commitment to improving our community with you all. There’s no one else I’d rather face it all with.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Motivating the Lack-Luster Unicorns of Greek Life: Seniors

By Adam Rakestraw, University of Southern Indiana

We all have them in our chapters. You know, mythical creatures, who even if they attend chapter, sit in the very back. They are the unicorns of Greek life only a lot less magical. Kicked back with their feet up, nit-picking every officer report one right after the other. Who is this mystical all-knowing creature I speak of? The Senior.

Too often it has become the trend in our chapters to allow these seniors to fade into the background of operations. Obviously, priorities have changed when students reach their pinnacle fourth (some of us fifth) year of college. Seniors are focused on their future career, turning their degree into action, and coming up with never-ending elevator speeches for the million dollar question: -"What are you going to do next?" With so much focus on the future, it's easy to see why seniors fade into the past.

But why? Why do we let our seniors fade away during their last year of school? Sometimes it is necessary for these individuals to focus on their future, but it doesn't mean chapters should ignore what seniors can offer. The biggest role a senior can fulfill is that of a mentor. If seniors do truly care about the sovereignty of their local chapter, they should want to help; and that goes both ways, chapters should try to support seniors in their newfound roles as mentor.

Let's address the root causes of these, “lack luster” seniors first before addressing the solution. Let's be real: Seniors are half the problem. They come to chapter, with a "too cool for school" mentality and a “I put in my hard work already” attitude. They become irrationally reactive to every proposal given by a member, using phrases like, "that's stupid," or, "This chapter has changed," and the ever popular, "well this isn't how we did it." That last line represents the mentality that urgently needs to be addressed. Too often seniors see themselves as a product of their time, drawing from their personal experiences and often rejecting the change current members are trying to accomplish. This creates a separation between what seniors created during their time and the current direction of the chapter.

I say this boldly, "seniors embrace change, stop sitting in the back, and if you want to contribute to the change; become a positive mentor." By becoming a mentor, you can influence our younger brothers and sister with your guidance; let’s view mentorship as a positive experience for our last year of college. Our younger members do not have as firm of a grasp on chapter operations as seniors do, but there was a time when the senior was in the exact some position. So instead of demeaning our younger members, seniors as mentors, should support other member’s ideas and lead by positive example. Seniors, "be the change you want to see."

Now to address the second half of the issue: our chapters. Chapters should drop the mentality of seniors being, "a product of the past." In truth, no chapter belongs to anyone, but every chapter belongs to the hundreds to thousands of members who have played a role in what the chapter is today. Just because seniors are on their way out, doesn't mean chapters should push them out the door. Instead our chapters should program for the mentorship roles our seniors take on; this includes programs like an alumni transition program or creating a senior-member committee position. Chapters, embrace your seniors, honor and recognize them for their contributions, and motive/program for them in their last year.

Seniors, let's give back in a positive manner to our chapters that helped developed your professional, social, and educational characters. Let’s guide future generations to live through our ritualistic teachings and promote their "coming into adulthood." Chapters, give your seniors the opportunity to be active and contribute in their final year. Celebrate your seniors and recognize the hard work they did for you to enjoy the path you're on. Together, let’s turn our seniors from reactive mythical beings into proactive, positive mentors.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet the Spring 2015 AFLV Student Bloggers

Adam Rakestraw
Adam is an undergraduate senior double major in studio art and anthropology at the University of Southern Indiana with an emphases in sculpture, art history, and cultural studies. During his time at USI, he served on the IFC council and was the chairman of Fraternal Values Society-Xi Chapter. Adam is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and served in various educational offices such as ritualism, academic, and alumni chair(s).

 "I look forward to addressing issues and situations Greek students currently face on college campuses as well as in their local chapter.  I would like to change perceptions of Greeks and progress our community."

Abby McCollom
Abby is a second year higher education administration master’s student at the University of Kansas. She currently is serving as a graduate assistant in the Student Involvement and Leaderships Center, working as the Multicultural Greek Council adviser and oversees multiple community-wide programs. Abby was initiated into Alpha Delta Pi at Oklahoma State University, where she studied journalism and broadcasting. 

"I am excited to put my bachelor’s degree to work and write about something I am passionate about with others from around the country. Writing for the blog will provide me the opportunity to engage students with critical issues and important topics regarding fraternity and sorority membership."

Clair Lindsey
Claire is a third year at Cal Poly San Luis Obisp studying english with a minor in linguistics. While at Cal Poly, Claire has been an active member of her sorority, Alpha Phi, serving as Guard, on various committees and even writing for the Alpha Phi International Blog. Currently, Clair servers as the Vice President of Communications for Panhellenic Council where she acts as the liaison between the Panhellenic sororities and the Cal Poly community.

"I am so excited to be a part of the AFLV Blog Committee, and I am really looking forward to sharing my experiences as a sorority woman with other Greek members. I believe that it is my obligation as a writer and a Greek member to share those experiences as reinforcement to others of the incredible opportunities fraternities and sororities offer."

Ryan Miller
Ryan is a junior at Oklahoma State University studying apparel merchandising with minors in marketing and ethical leadership and is a member of Sigma Pi. Ryan ultimately wants to obtain a graduate degree and work within the fraternal movement. While at Oklahoma State he has written for The Odyssey, served as president of his fraternity, and worked for Undergraduate Admissions. He is also a graduate of the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute and served as a mentor at the Jon Williamson FuturesQuest. Ryan is currently serving the Interfraternity Council as the External Vice President.

"I am excited to write for the AFLV Blog because I want to give back to the Greek community and help create a positive change within the fraternal movement. You never know how you can influence someone and the AFLV Blog is a gateway to creating positive change. I am also excited to work with other students across the country and learn more about their institution’s Greek communities."

Darcy LeDoux
Darcy is senior studying public relations at Texas Tech University. She is a member of Kappa Delta sorority and currently serves as Vice-President Public Relations. Darcy also works as a social media intern in Texas Tech’s Office of Communication and Marketing and is a member of the university’s student-run advertising team. Previously, Darcy served as Public Relations Chairman for Panhellenic Council where she created a blog that recognized in National Panhellenic Conference Chairman Jean Mrasek’s monthly newsletter. Darcy is also a summer 2014 graduate of the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute.

"My past three years as a sorority woman have provided me with challenges, opportunities and experiences that have shaped me into a more confident and driven individual. I am excited to combine my passion for writing and sorority life to share insight with fraternity and sorority members nation-wide!"

Monday, March 2, 2015

Inspiring leaders, what do they think about?

In honor of National Ritual Celebration Week and International Badge Day, AFLV asked well known and respected fraternity & sorority professionals an important question:

What do you think about when you put on your organization’s badge or letters and why?

Their responses are inspiring and demonstrate lifetime commitment to their fraternal organizations.

“Other than the lifelong friendships, I think of the first stanza of my organization’s creed which says, ‘I believe in Delta Tau Delta for the education of youth and the inspiration of maturity so that I may better learn and live the truth.’ Truth will serve everyone who will adopt it in everything they do.”

- Ival Gregory, Delta Tau Delta alumnus
Manager of Fraternity & Sorority Affairs, Oklahoma State University

“Today, when I put on my badge, I am grateful that it is my mother's badge and she passed along the gift of AOII to me.  I also think of four young founders in college in 1897, decades before women had the right to vote, creating a women's organization.  Do I begin to have their vision? I think of their depth and wonder if we were charged today with writing a ritual, could we write something that would transcend time like they did?”

- Lori Hart, Alpha Omicron Pi alumna

“Every single time I put on my Phi Delta Theta badge, I immediately think back to that moment it was first placed on my chest.  That was more than 20 years ago, but the feelings, the emotion, the pride all brings me back to that moment. It then takes me to a place where I am so grateful for that experience, not only as a Phi Delt, but as a member of the larger Fraternal Community. The Fraternal experience has impacted my life in so many amazing ways – and I am incredibly grateful for the entire Fraternal family I've had the pleasure to be a part of.  Those people have influenced me, guided me, challenged me, and supported me all through my adult life.  My founders had a vision for Phi Delta Theta.  I’m proud to be part of both that ongoing tradition as well as connected to the entire Fraternal movement!”

- Mark Koepsell, Phi Delta Theta alumnus
Executive Director, Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values

“Whenever I wear my shield or letters, it reminds me of the commitment I made to Lambda Theta Alpha. The commitment to uphold the principles of Unity, Love, and Respect at all times and to always remember that Lambda Theta Alpha is and will always be a way of life.”

- Jennifer Morales, Lambda Theta Alpha alumna
Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life, Kennesaw State University

Tweet us! 
So, what do YOU think about when you put on your organization’s badge or letters? Why? Tweet your response to @fraternalvalues. Kick start the values conversation that should be taking place year-round.