Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Honesty Isn't Good Enough

Students often confuse honesty with doing the right thing.

I'm here to tell you. That's just isn't correct and it's not good enough.

While I do believe being honest is important and the right thing to do, it only goes half way toward really doing the right thing.

Being honest is just the 101 level of leadership. If you can't even be honest, then you have no business calling yourself a leader, claiming you are one, or pretending you are one. If you aren't honest, then don't even start to waste my time. It even pains me that I need to type this. And as much as I want to "learn" you - you'll learn it fast enough in your job, your relationships, your family. How many times have you caused or experienced pain because someone wasn't honest?

But so many students think if they are just honest with you about what is really going on then they should be let off the hook. Again, that's just incorrect.

Just because you're honest with the police officer that you were speeding, doesn't mean you weren't still breaking the law.

In fact, I think that's a good new fill in the blank game for members of fraternities and sororities:

Just because you were honest with _______ that you were _______, doesn't mean you weren't/aren't still _______.

While I can appreciate it would be nice to live in a world where you got to do whatever you want whenever you wanted without any consequences, that isn't the world we all live in.

Now stop acting as if it's your "right" to do whatever you want - it's not true and it certainly isn't leadership.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Best of Busted!

Pot Case Spurs Closing of Fraternity

“Members of the University of Iowa’s Delta Upsilon fraternity must find new lodging after the international fraternity announced it would close the chapter because of an alleged marijuana right in the house… Four Delta Upsilon members were charged in December with drug violations after police raided the fraternity house and found 650 grams of marijuana, cash, packing materials, scales and drug deal ledgers, court records state.” The four members “have each been charged with possession and/or conspiracy to deliver marijuana and failure to affix required tax-stamps to the drugs. Both charges are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and a $7,500 fine”

Seriously! Where can we even start with this? Not only has an 82 year old chapter been disbanded, but four members of the chapter are facing felony drug charges. While the alleged actions of the four accused members in this case may have been personal decisions with personal consequences, their connection to the fraternity is the responsibility of every chapter member who may have known that something like this was up. Someone had to know that something was up! If, at best, we give the chapter the benefit of the doubt, we can assume that none of the brothers were being supplied by this cache, much less knew about it all…. But, come on, how is it possible to conduct a “marijuana ring” such as this without the knowledge (and acceptance) of the chapter?

It appears to us that no one felt it was their responsibility or duty to put the interests of the fraternity above the interests of the drug selling members. Why would ANYONE choose to protect these men above the fraternity? We think some members would say it was about ‘brotherhood’. This is surely one of the biggest cop-outs ever heard, but, unfortunately, we have all heard this argument before. Is this really what brotherhood has become? Nothing more than having the back of your brother, regardless of the morality or legality of his actions? That’s crap.

True, the chapter probably didn’t know about the alleged proclivities of these four men when they were offered a bid and initiated. The chapter probably couldn’t stop a member from using drugs much less from allegedly selling them. However, the chapter did have the power to stop these men from allegedly storing and selling drugs in the chapter house. If this chapter stood up and took definitive action to eradicate this behavior from the organization, the outcome may have been different. This chapter might have been around for an 83rd year. When the members of this chapter chose to potentially value their brotherhood and loyalty to the four men that threatened their chapter more than they valued their chapter, there was no turning back. Nice one.

Jordan, E. (2008, January 22) Pot case spurs closing of U of I fraternity. Des Moines Register. Retrieved March 4, 2008 from: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080122/NEWS02/801220393/0/ENT01

Friday, April 16, 2010

Networking and Hazing

This is a guest blog post from Tracy Maxwell, Executive Director of HazingPrevention.org

Networking has always been one of the biggest selling points of fraternity/sorority membership. The instant connection of the same affiliation can indeed get your foot in the door mainly because the employer can identify with and knows the value of your experience. However, wearing the same letters alone will not land you the job. YOU must have something to offer.

When I was a Greek Advisor, I used to chuckle about students who ran for leadership positions solely for resume padding. You can spot them a mile away. They don’t really have any fresh ideas or enthusiasm for the position, the often skip meetings and events, and they don’t garner the respect of their peers. These days, I imagine it is more difficult for these types to get elected to or stay in office for long.

They were missing the point anyway. It wasn’t about having something else to list on your resume. Like the network, the resume just gets you the opportunity to earn a job. Most interviewers will want to hear what you DID in the positions you held; how you improved or grew or created something. They will even ask what you learned from your failures, and unless you never took any risks at all, you will have some to share.

Since my work is about hazing prevention and I was given this opportunity to blog on that topic, you might wonder how this relates. I will tell you. If you are into hazing, you likely spend a great deal of time thinking up new activities, carrying out traditional ones or keeping people in line and making sure they stay mum about organization secrets. You have probably honed some authoritarian tendencies from this practice, and possibly even have a highly developed sense of creativity. However, you can’t share any of that in a job interview.

Try explaining the “special bond” that comes from surviving something difficult together like crawling through mud in the dark while holding a brick, or sitting bare-assed on a block of ice for as long as you can, or helping each other finish a handle of vodka in under five minutes. These are not the anecdotes you share with a potential employer.

Consider the fact that hazing is illegal in most states, and if you’re ever caught and actually charged with anything – as more and more students are learning these days – the criminal record you now have can seriously hinder your job search or even prevent you from attaining professional credentials such as M.D., J.D., C.P.A. or others. Nevermind that you majored in, and earned a degree in accounting, you can’t be a C.P.A. now with a criminal record.

On top of that, most employers will not be impressed by stories of torture and abuse no matter how creative or “educational” you have deemed it. You won’t tell anyone outside the confines of your organization about what is going on behind closed doors, you certainly aren’t going to brag about it in an interview. Further, I’m guessing the huge amount of time you spend thinking up and carrying out creative hazing activities or administering hell week, probably keeps you from being that involved on campus or holding any leadership positions that you can actually learn from and talk about.

When I began working in higher education, for many years in fraternity/sorority life, I realized that my “network” stretched far beyond my own affiliation. I was reminded of this recently when I connected a friend looking for a new career to several other friends and colleagues in cities he was interested in living. Even though I hadn’t seen him in several years and our connection was fairly limited even when we did know each other, a former colleague responded very enthusiastically to my request for help. As we chatted a bit through Facebook, he shared this story of why he was so eager to help my friend who had worked for a presidential campaign, on capitol hill and as a consultant for his fraternity.

I have to tell you, the first job after HQ/Grad School I applied for, I interviewed with the VP for University Advancement. It was a five PM meeting, I walked in and sat down, we chatted for about three minutes and then he said something I'll never forget:

"There's two kinds of people I never pass up the chance to hire, people who've worked on the Hill, and people who've worked for their fraternity. You can't match their professionalism or their passion." Then he offered me the job.

Professionalism and passion are both key to career success. You can certainly have a passion for hazing, and believe in the power of that experience to toughen people up and make them good members and better people (and many, many hazers and formerly hazed will say the experience did just that for them). You can spend an inordinate amount of time on hazing too. Time, in my opinion, that could be much better spent doing something good for society, serving in a visible leadership position and networking on campus, or developing new leadership skills that you can use to land you a job. The latter activities develop professionalism. Screaming obscenities and calling new members maggots does not.

In this tough economy where jobs are scarce, and many are out of work, which of these people do you want to be when you go into a job interview?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Are you connected?

This week has been all about technology in my world, which has led to some pondering about how we use technology and how that has changed, just in the past few years. Heck, it has changed in the past few minutes as I type this post! I've had the opportunity this week to hold my first iPad (wow!), participate in our first #GreekChat, and learn about all kinds of emerging technology from our partners who support the fraternal market.

Social media is exploding, and we are just dipping our toe in the water in terms of our involvement with #GreekChat, Twitter use during our #AFLVNCGLC event this week (and in St. Louis for #AFLVNBGLC), and other ways to help make connections among students and supporters of the fraternal market.

How are you using technology in your role? With your chapter? Your council? Your campus? Do you have a Twitter account? Facebook group page? How will it change in the next few weeks? As you do action planning for next year, how are you integrating technology? How should we utilize technology to serve you better?