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?

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