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.

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