Thursday, March 26, 2015

Motivating the Lack-Luster Unicorns of Greek Life: Seniors

By Adam Rakestraw, University of Southern Indiana

We all have them in our chapters. You know, mythical creatures, who even if they attend chapter, sit in the very back. They are the unicorns of Greek life only a lot less magical. Kicked back with their feet up, nit-picking every officer report one right after the other. Who is this mystical all-knowing creature I speak of? The Senior.

Too often it has become the trend in our chapters to allow these seniors to fade into the background of operations. Obviously, priorities have changed when students reach their pinnacle fourth (some of us fifth) year of college. Seniors are focused on their future career, turning their degree into action, and coming up with never-ending elevator speeches for the million dollar question: -"What are you going to do next?" With so much focus on the future, it's easy to see why seniors fade into the past.

But why? Why do we let our seniors fade away during their last year of school? Sometimes it is necessary for these individuals to focus on their future, but it doesn't mean chapters should ignore what seniors can offer. The biggest role a senior can fulfill is that of a mentor. If seniors do truly care about the sovereignty of their local chapter, they should want to help; and that goes both ways, chapters should try to support seniors in their newfound roles as mentor.

Let's address the root causes of these, “lack luster” seniors first before addressing the solution. Let's be real: Seniors are half the problem. They come to chapter, with a "too cool for school" mentality and a “I put in my hard work already” attitude. They become irrationally reactive to every proposal given by a member, using phrases like, "that's stupid," or, "This chapter has changed," and the ever popular, "well this isn't how we did it." That last line represents the mentality that urgently needs to be addressed. Too often seniors see themselves as a product of their time, drawing from their personal experiences and often rejecting the change current members are trying to accomplish. This creates a separation between what seniors created during their time and the current direction of the chapter.

I say this boldly, "seniors embrace change, stop sitting in the back, and if you want to contribute to the change; become a positive mentor." By becoming a mentor, you can influence our younger brothers and sister with your guidance; let’s view mentorship as a positive experience for our last year of college. Our younger members do not have as firm of a grasp on chapter operations as seniors do, but there was a time when the senior was in the exact some position. So instead of demeaning our younger members, seniors as mentors, should support other member’s ideas and lead by positive example. Seniors, "be the change you want to see."

Now to address the second half of the issue: our chapters. Chapters should drop the mentality of seniors being, "a product of the past." In truth, no chapter belongs to anyone, but every chapter belongs to the hundreds to thousands of members who have played a role in what the chapter is today. Just because seniors are on their way out, doesn't mean chapters should push them out the door. Instead our chapters should program for the mentorship roles our seniors take on; this includes programs like an alumni transition program or creating a senior-member committee position. Chapters, embrace your seniors, honor and recognize them for their contributions, and motive/program for them in their last year.

Seniors, let's give back in a positive manner to our chapters that helped developed your professional, social, and educational characters. Let’s guide future generations to live through our ritualistic teachings and promote their "coming into adulthood." Chapters, give your seniors the opportunity to be active and contribute in their final year. Celebrate your seniors and recognize the hard work they did for you to enjoy the path you're on. Together, let’s turn our seniors from reactive mythical beings into proactive, positive mentors.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet the Spring 2015 AFLV Student Bloggers

Adam Rakestraw
Adam is an undergraduate senior double major in studio art and anthropology at the University of Southern Indiana with an emphases in sculpture, art history, and cultural studies. During his time at USI, he served on the IFC council and was the chairman of Fraternal Values Society-Xi Chapter. Adam is a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and served in various educational offices such as ritualism, academic, and alumni chair(s).

 "I look forward to addressing issues and situations Greek students currently face on college campuses as well as in their local chapter.  I would like to change perceptions of Greeks and progress our community."

Abby McCollom
Abby is a second year higher education administration master’s student at the University of Kansas. She currently is serving as a graduate assistant in the Student Involvement and Leaderships Center, working as the Multicultural Greek Council adviser and oversees multiple community-wide programs. Abby was initiated into Alpha Delta Pi at Oklahoma State University, where she studied journalism and broadcasting. 

"I am excited to put my bachelor’s degree to work and write about something I am passionate about with others from around the country. Writing for the blog will provide me the opportunity to engage students with critical issues and important topics regarding fraternity and sorority membership."

Clair Lindsey
Claire is a third year at Cal Poly San Luis Obisp studying english with a minor in linguistics. While at Cal Poly, Claire has been an active member of her sorority, Alpha Phi, serving as Guard, on various committees and even writing for the Alpha Phi International Blog. Currently, Clair servers as the Vice President of Communications for Panhellenic Council where she acts as the liaison between the Panhellenic sororities and the Cal Poly community.

"I am so excited to be a part of the AFLV Blog Committee, and I am really looking forward to sharing my experiences as a sorority woman with other Greek members. I believe that it is my obligation as a writer and a Greek member to share those experiences as reinforcement to others of the incredible opportunities fraternities and sororities offer."

Ryan Miller
Ryan is a junior at Oklahoma State University studying apparel merchandising with minors in marketing and ethical leadership and is a member of Sigma Pi. Ryan ultimately wants to obtain a graduate degree and work within the fraternal movement. While at Oklahoma State he has written for The Odyssey, served as president of his fraternity, and worked for Undergraduate Admissions. He is also a graduate of the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute and served as a mentor at the Jon Williamson FuturesQuest. Ryan is currently serving the Interfraternity Council as the External Vice President.

"I am excited to write for the AFLV Blog because I want to give back to the Greek community and help create a positive change within the fraternal movement. You never know how you can influence someone and the AFLV Blog is a gateway to creating positive change. I am also excited to work with other students across the country and learn more about their institution’s Greek communities."

Darcy LeDoux
Darcy is senior studying public relations at Texas Tech University. She is a member of Kappa Delta sorority and currently serves as Vice-President Public Relations. Darcy also works as a social media intern in Texas Tech’s Office of Communication and Marketing and is a member of the university’s student-run advertising team. Previously, Darcy served as Public Relations Chairman for Panhellenic Council where she created a blog that recognized in National Panhellenic Conference Chairman Jean Mrasek’s monthly newsletter. Darcy is also a summer 2014 graduate of the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute.

"My past three years as a sorority woman have provided me with challenges, opportunities and experiences that have shaped me into a more confident and driven individual. I am excited to combine my passion for writing and sorority life to share insight with fraternity and sorority members nation-wide!"

Monday, March 2, 2015

Inspiring leaders, what do they think about?

In honor of National Ritual Celebration Week and International Badge Day, AFLV asked well known and respected fraternity & sorority professionals an important question:

What do you think about when you put on your organization’s badge or letters and why?

Their responses are inspiring and demonstrate lifetime commitment to their fraternal organizations.

“Other than the lifelong friendships, I think of the first stanza of my organization’s creed which says, ‘I believe in Delta Tau Delta for the education of youth and the inspiration of maturity so that I may better learn and live the truth.’ Truth will serve everyone who will adopt it in everything they do.”

- Ival Gregory, Delta Tau Delta alumnus
Manager of Fraternity & Sorority Affairs, Oklahoma State University

“Today, when I put on my badge, I am grateful that it is my mother's badge and she passed along the gift of AOII to me.  I also think of four young founders in college in 1897, decades before women had the right to vote, creating a women's organization.  Do I begin to have their vision? I think of their depth and wonder if we were charged today with writing a ritual, could we write something that would transcend time like they did?”

- Lori Hart, Alpha Omicron Pi alumna

“Every single time I put on my Phi Delta Theta badge, I immediately think back to that moment it was first placed on my chest.  That was more than 20 years ago, but the feelings, the emotion, the pride all brings me back to that moment. It then takes me to a place where I am so grateful for that experience, not only as a Phi Delt, but as a member of the larger Fraternal Community. The Fraternal experience has impacted my life in so many amazing ways – and I am incredibly grateful for the entire Fraternal family I've had the pleasure to be a part of.  Those people have influenced me, guided me, challenged me, and supported me all through my adult life.  My founders had a vision for Phi Delta Theta.  I’m proud to be part of both that ongoing tradition as well as connected to the entire Fraternal movement!”

- Mark Koepsell, Phi Delta Theta alumnus
Executive Director, Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values

“Whenever I wear my shield or letters, it reminds me of the commitment I made to Lambda Theta Alpha. The commitment to uphold the principles of Unity, Love, and Respect at all times and to always remember that Lambda Theta Alpha is and will always be a way of life.”

- Jennifer Morales, Lambda Theta Alpha alumna
Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life, Kennesaw State University

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So, what do YOU think about when you put on your organization’s badge or letters? Why? Tweet your response to @fraternalvalues. Kick start the values conversation that should be taking place year-round.