Monday, April 22, 2013

Our Volunteers Rock!

Have you attended CFL/NBGLC or AFLV West? Or traveled as part of a Service Immersion Trip? Did your council utilize our Awards & Assessment program? What articles in Connections, the AFLV magazine, caught your eye and made you think? However AFLV has impacted you this year, there have been volunteers supporting your experience behind the scenes.

This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and we wanted to take a moment to thank our volunteers for the hard work that they do. Our volunteers work long hours and travel long distances to support the efforts of AFLV. Our Conference Committee and on-site volunteers work tirelessly to provide a top-notch experience for attendees. Awards & Assessment judges spend countless hours reviewing applications and providing feedback to councils across the country in an effort to help them perform at their highest levels. The editorial board for Connections writes, solicits, and edits articles intended to further the knowledge and understanding that our members have of what it means to be a part of a fraternity or sorority.

Although our staff has grown over the past year, our volunteers are more important than ever in ensuring AFLV fulfills its mission to provide experiences that challenge and encourage fraternity/sorority members to live ethical values and implement best practices. These volunteers support AFLV in addition to full-time jobs, family commitments, and other volunteer roles for national organizations and associations. Their time is volunteered without ever asking for anything in return. The least we can do is thank them.

If you’ve volunteered for any aspect of AFLV this year, we say thank you. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of our members. Thank you for creating growth and development opportunities for fraternities and sororities across North America. Thank you for continuing to help AFLV be a trusted and sought-out resource within the fraternal movement.

Take a minute to check out our volunteer roster, and if you know any of our volunteers, please take a moment to thank them for all that they do. Thanks again to our volunteers for helping us build AFLV!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Running Into the Fire

photo from Getty Images

If you’re like me (and most people) this week, you have been focused on the aftermath of the unthinkable events that took place on Monday during the Boston Marathon that left 176 people injured and took the lives of three others. This serves as an all-too-familiar example of senseless tragedy; one that falls within a day of the anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, within a week of the anniversary of Columbine, and within months of the shootings in Newtown, CT. These are just a few examples, and unfortunately, regardless of age, we could all list countless others that have happened in our lifetime.

In light of yesterday’s events, I was asked to write this blog for AFLV members and as I thought it about it, the story line became clear: the resiliency of the good always seems to overcome the intention of the bad. For those of you who could bear to watch the video from yesterday, you may have seen the same thing I saw: the countless number of people running INTO the smoke to help others. You may have heard the stories I heard: marathoners running past the finish line directly to the hospital to give blood and others tearing off articles of clothing to use as tourniquets for the wounded. After an attempt to strike paralyzing fear in the hearts and minds of the people, the resiliency of the good seemed to again overcome the intention of the bad.

Is there a connection to the fraternity/sorority experience? Maybe. Maybe there is some connection that can be made, but that seems inconsequential given the gravity of the situation in Boston and certainly that conversation can be reserved for another time and place in the future. Perhaps our focus should be on the connection of people, the connection of humanity. As I referenced above, the one image that will ultimately stick with me from yesterday are the people running in to help those who needed it. What are the situations and who are the people in our lives - in our communities- that need us to “run in”, whether in response to a tragedy or even in our normal daily lives? Will we act in those moments? Are we currently?

For those who know me, you know I have affinity for the TV show The West Wing and while that may seem trivial in this moment, a friend from Boston posted a video on my Facebook timeline Monday night from the episode 20 Hours in America. I share this video and one of its quotes with you today as a tribute of sorts:

“Every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless”

This blog is not about fraternity. Yes, fraternity is about helping people and doing the right thing (one great example being the men of the Phi Kappa Theta at MIT), but moreover this blog is about people, and the power of people to overcome and to help others do the same.

Additional recommended blog post: My Heart is in Boston by Steve Good, Founder of Greeks for Good.

Guest blogger: Ryan O'Rourke, AFLV Director of Education & Curriculum Design

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hashtags Gone Wrong

No, it's not a post about being smart on social media. Y'all are smart enough to know that anyone can take a picture of or screen shot anything and ruin your life (imagine what Regina George could do with Instagram).

It's about a certain hashtag we've seen trending in a negative way - #womancrushwednesday or #wcw.

We're not knocking any of the good fun that individuals that want to show their friend who they think is attractive or a celebrity crush.

The disturbing trend we have seen are fraternity chapters using their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, or Instagram accounts to declare a woman as the chapter's Woman Crush Wednesday and talk about how hot she is.

Now let's think about the fact that these chapters are totally objectifying a woman. Think about the word "object" - you're treating someone as a thing to be looked at, analyzed, and talked about instead of like a person. It's not hard to see how this is negative.

Like, what is positive about treating people like objects? How does that match up with many fraternities' creeds that involve things like "making better men" or "being true gentlemen?"

We're not trying to pick on men. Women, the economic juggernaut that was Magic Mike and the pursuit of the M.R.S. do not make you innocent. While we don't see this trend going on with our sororities and #mancrushmonday, women are still guilty of objectifying men for their money, bodies, and status. That's also not congruent with your values of building "strong women" or striving for things that are noble, honorable, or any other words your particular motto may use.

So, here's the deal: while you make think this is funny or you truly think you're flattering someone, mayyybe you should look at the consequences and perceptions of what you're putting out there.

  1. The rest of the community now thinks we're not a welcoming environment for our GLBTQ friends, brothers, and sisters. 
  2. Since you're not in high school, we should act like adults and stop judging people based on their attractiveness, money, or popularity. 
  3. That's not how things work in the real world. First impressions only go so far. In reality, people are judged on their actual skills, character, and personality.
So there's your grownup lesson for the day. We look forward to calling you out if you continue to make us all look bad.