Thursday, March 8, 2012

Remember Integrity?

Since becoming president of my chapter, I have witnessed many amazing things. I have also, however, witnessed many things that I wouldn’t consider to be amazing.

When taking the pledge to become a member of my fraternity I was well aware of the visions and values it represented. I was also aware that many of the members in my chapter didn’t always live up to those values. But, I was just a new member and didn’t feel comfortable speaking up. I knew things that were happening were wrong but I never did anything to change or challenge it.

I grew up in a small town where I was taught to always stand up for my beliefs and values. My parents taught me to speak up when something was wrong. This is why I loved my fraternity so much, or at least the values that it represented.

My fraternity stands on the values of Love and Respect. Okay, I know these words are very broad but I understand them as loving and showing respect to everyone no matter who they are.

By now, you may be asking, "I thought this blog was going to be about integrity." Exactly. My chapter, along with many others, has been lacking integrity with our fraternal values.

In my mind, integrity means being the same person Monday morning as the person you are Friday night. My best analogy of NOT having integrity is holding the door open for a woman but looking at her a** as she walks through. Yup, I said it.

Integrity means living up to your values no matter the situation or time of day. My chapter was great at portraying Love and Respect to sorority women when they would come into chapter meetings or when volunteering at a local nursing home, but they were not great at living up to their values ALL the time. I am just as guilty as the next person. Values congruence is extremely hard to do.

The point I am trying to make is that we, Greek students, are the leaders on campus. Whether we like it or not, we are always in the public eye. I am concerned with the integrity of Greek students. We portray ourselves as being these amazing citizens who do philanthropy work and study hard and get good grades, but we also don’t always live up to our values. Each one of our organizations has their own set of values they uphold. I encourage everyone to look deep inside ourselves and really think if we are doing all that we can to live up to those values. And, at all times - not just when we think people are watching.

This is why I ran for president of my chapter. I saw that things were not going as they should. I didn’t want to be a part of an organization that acted that way. Since quitting wasn’t the answer, I knew I had to foster the change that I wanted to see. This isn’t easy. I struggle every day with members who are not willing to change. My entire executive team has been working hard to support and live up to our values and hold members accountable when they aren’t. Over the past semester I have seen amazing growth in my brothers. Fraternities were created on the values of building better men. I can actually say that now my chapter is getting back to that mission.

None of us are anywhere near perfect, and I know we never will be, but I am simply asking for the Greek community to try and actually practice what they preach. Stand up for your values and don’t let others disrespect them. Have some integrity to stand up for what you believe in.

We all joined an organization for a reason; maybe it’s about time to actually find out what that reason is.

Guest blogger: Addison Ellis, AFLV Intern. Addison is a student at Colorado State University and is president of the CSU chapter of Alpha Tau Omega.

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