Monday, October 26, 2009


City orders frat vacated after feces, vomit discovered: Health, safety violations keep Pike House closed

A fraternity house that was shut down by the city last week for numerous health and safety violations -- including loose garbage, overflowing toilets and inoperable smoke detectors -- will remain closed until it is brought into compliance with city code… the Pike House, was shut down by Boulder's fire marshal Friday after a technician fixing the house's fire alarm reported seeing abhorrent conditions inside.

…Inspectors found inoperable toilets with feces overflowing onto the floor, a strong smell of urine and vomit throughout the hallways, broken glass and holes punched into the walls.

…Many of the smoke alarms throughout the house weren't working, debris and various objects were blocking exits and there are "electrical issues" that needed to be addressed

Many of our loyal readers may remember previous columns addressing the destruction of hotel rooms by fraternity members. Now, we must really ask, what is up with this? Is this for real? Do these people ever bring guests to their house? Besides the obvious respect for property, sanitation, health, and safety concerns, this is disgusting. Seriously, it’s disgusting.

Many of you may be reading this and thinking of your own houses conditions: “Wow – we only have one toilet that is inoperable but it doesn’t have feces overflowing onto the floor”, or “We’ve had some vomit in the hallways, but it gets cleaned up pretty quickly”, or “Our house only smells like urine a couple days a week”, or “Do we even HAVE any smoke detectors?”. Readers, please realize that we do not make light of this to make you feel better about your chapter house’s current condition, but rather to illuminate the current realities in many chapter houses.

Look at this as a wake up call. You can tell a great deal about a person or an organization by observing the way they live. Maintaining a sanitary, clean, and safe living environment should be the responsibility of every member. If we as chapters do not care for or respect our facilities, why should we expect anyone else to do the same?

All of this is occurring during a time when significant lobbying efforts are being made by many fraternity men and sorority women that will make it easier for organizations to solicit support for improvements to housing infrastructure and life safety devices in chapter houses. While there may not be a direct correlation to those efforts and the situation described above, this experience can not be helpful to those efforts. (You can learn more about these efforts and how you can help at:

We all know and may joke about the “fraternity house smell” and have all been in a chapter house where our feet stick to the floor. Why does this have to be the norm rather than the exception? Fraternities and sororities often expect or demand more respect from their peers, neighbors, faculty members, communities, etc. Why should we expect respect when this is how we treat our facilities, property and live like pigs?

Aguilar, J. (2008, June 11). Boulder orders frat vacated after feces, vomit discovered. The Daily Camera. Retrieved September 5, 2008 from:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Joining a colony vs. joining an established chapter

I am headed home this weekend to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the colonization of my sorority chapter at my undergraduate institution. I am very much looking forward to the celebration, re-connecting with sisters I have not seen since graduation, and meeting the younger women in the chapter. As I think about the upcoming festivities, I reflect on my membership and why I joined my chapter, and I wonder if I would be where I am today if I was not a colony class member.

I was not a "likely joiner" when I arrived on campus, and surprisingly I was the first person in my crazy big extended family to join a Greek-lettered organization. I was intrigued by membership in a new chapter for the experiences, the leadership opportunities, and the ability to shape tradition for women who followed in our footsteps. For some reason, I did not consider that I could gain these very same things in an established chapter on campus. I wonder how many other colony class members out there would not have joined an established organization and missed out on all the benefits of affiliation?

I am continually struck by the number of professionals "in the field" who are colony class members. Is there something different or unique about the colony experience that sparked something in these individuals? Is it simply because a certain type of person is attracted to a colony class, and those same traits make for a great student affairs professional? Or is it something deeper?

Beyond the obvious, what makes a colony class opportunity so attractive for some individuals? How can we highlight or sell those very same opportunities that are available in our already established chapters? What do we need to stop doing in our established chapters in order to attract those members and potential leaders? What scares them away?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Keep Your Meetings On Point

Question: What question did I hate as a chapter president?
Answer: Do we have chapter this week?
My Inside Voice: Do we have chapter every week? Then why are you asking me?

We all hate meetings that go too long. Rule #1: Stop doing things that suck. They suck and no one likes it. Long chapter meetings suck. And it all can be avoided if you follow a few good tips.

1. One of the biggest mistakes chapters make is not utilizing the chapter exec meeting in advance. Build your agenda and your game plan in exec. Have an agenda, and stick to it.

2. No "new business" should happen without going through the chapter exec first. You need to train your members on the proper protocol. Not only does this help expedite your chapter meetings, it respects your members time.

3. Every time an officer in the chapter says "no report" you've just told everyone in the chapter they didn't need to be there. Do not allow your exec members to ever say "no report." Another way to say this is - if your chapter officers say "no report" it means they aren't doing anything (a.k.a. their "job").

4. Members should learn new information at chapter. Chapter meetings should be when you learn what's going on. Members should feel left out and behind if they don't attend chapter.

5. Use Parliamentary procedure and Roberts Rules of Order. (Note to self: the person who knows the most Parliamentary procedure controls the meeting)

6. Not everything needs to be said. Good officer handouts with all of the relevant information that are passed out at the meeting make it go faster and ensures all members have the same information. BTW, it means you think off the cuff prepare before the meeting.

You will participate in a million meetings in your lifetime. Many of them will suck because you and others don't know how to run and manage them properly. Learn now. Everyone (including you) will benefit.

P.S. - You're JV if don't learn this now.