Thursday, April 23, 2015

Don’t make the wrong call

By Darcy LeDoux, Texas Tech University

We all know the dangers of drinking and driving. We would never want to risk our lives—or anyone else’s for that matter—so we take the necessary precautions to avoid getting behind the wheel.

Better snag the list of volun, ahem, “pledges” serving as DDs for tonight’s party! That’s totally the responsible move because that’s what they’re here for, right?


Hold the phone. That’s the wrong call.

Serving as a designated driver is a common “rite of passage” and duty for new members on many campuses.  It’s also a common form of hazing that often gets over-looked. By utilizing these new members as designated drivers, we add fuel to the fire and enable hazing within our organizations. Think about it. You’re forcing another individual into something he or she may not want to do, but have to because of the pressure to become an initiated member.

By forcing our new members to assume the responsibility of taking care of and driving around our initiated members, we’re belittling them. A new member’s focus and responsibility is to learn how to fulfill the founding principles and values of their organization. As active brothers and sisters, we should be building up our newest members by showing our support for them, not on them. We should be teaching, guiding, and demonstrating to our members what it truly means to carry on the legacy of our brother or sisterhood.

So, if we shouldn’t call a new member for a ride, then what are we to do?

We take matters into our own hands. We step up and be responsible. Consider taking advantage of the free safe ride options your university might provide. Call a cab. Or, be the designated driver for one night… it’s not the end of the world. It’s easier to have fun when you know that everyone is safe and accounted for. There will always be another weekend, another party, and another night to have your fun. Have a rotating system with your friends, make a chart, do whatever you need to do, but don’t take advantage of new members for the sake of your own fun. 

As fraternity men and sorority women, we take an oath to be there for one another. Being a brother or sister is no different than being a good person. By holding ourselves accountable, we get to be the ones in control of ensuring the safety of our fellow members.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Six ways to create a stronger relationship with your headquarters staff

By Ryan Miller, Oklahoma State University

The inter/national headquarters for our organizations are some of the most important resources in fraternity and sorority life. Each inter/national office is structured differently and becoming familiar with how your organization is structured will help your chapter succeed. Of all staff members, you might be most familiar with the traveling consultants. You know… the ones who visit your chapter once a semester/quarter or year.

Each fraternity and sorority has different requirements to become a traveling consultant. While some hire recent graduates, others require their traveling staff to have a master’s degree and/or experience working in higher education. No matter how your fraternity or sorority sets up its traveling consultants, creating strong, positive relationships with these men and women is vital to the success of your chapter.   

Creating these strong relationships, however, can be difficult simply because of logistics—you might not see the consultants very often and it’s often not the same consultant who visits your chapter each time. That being said, here are some suggestions that will aid in helping you create strong relationships with these very important people:
  1. Take advantage of the time you have with your organization’s traveling staff when they visit. While they do have a lot get done during the visit, they spend a lot of time alone. Ultimately, they are still your brothers and sisters and want to experience that brotherhood or sisterhood outside of meetings with chapter officers and university staff. Introduce these representatives to your chapter and include them in activities such as sightseeing or meals. They will appreciate it!
  2. Invite staff members to big-ticket events such as homecoming or your alumni weekend.  Ask in advance for their travel schedule so you can plan to include them in events you’re proud of. Or, let them know when university activities are and maybe they can fit it in to their schedules.
  3. Encourage your members to apply for volunteer opportunities, internships, or full-time jobs with your inter/national office. Having chapter members with experiences working directly for your inter/national office provides a new perspective and will help you better understand the organization as a whole. Being on headquarters staff is hard work!
  4. Set up a monthly call with your traveling consultant or whoever works directly with your chapter on behalf of your inter/national office. I’m sure you exchange emails with him or her fairly often, but the personal touch of a phone call can help create a better relationship. 
  5. Meet deadlines and turn in your reports on time. Turning in report and other documents to your inter/national office on time not only helps staff review them on schedule, but it makes your chapter look good. Turning in reports late, or possible not at all, puts staff behind in their daily operations.
  6. Ask traveling consultants about their experiences. What was it like to be a member at their chapter? What’s it like to be a consultant? What will they do afterward? You can create a stronger relationship if you understand where they’re coming from.
For some of us, creating a positive relationship with our headquarters staff might seem a little daunting at first. However, remember that these staff members are here to help us succeed. The things you can learn from them might surprise you.

What have you done to improve or maintain the relationship your chapter has with your inter/national headquarters? Leave a comment below!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

3 Ways Joining Your University Greek Council Can Change Your Life

By Claire Lindsey, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 

Picture this: it is freshman year and you’ve joined the best chapter on campus (yours, of course). You’re beyond stoked to be a part of [INSERT ORGANIZATION HERE], because your brothers/sisters are the funniest, smartest, coolest kids on campus, and now you’re a part of that amazing group. After bid night, everything is about your organization, your sisterhood or brotherhood and your philanthropy.

That’s how my freshman year went. But, as I headed into my junior year, I realized I wanted more. I wanted to play a role not only in my own chapter, but in the Greek community. So, I applied for Panhellenic and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in college. Here are 3 ways joining your campus Greek council can change your life.

1.   You meet friends outside your own chapter.
My sorority sisters are the They’re my best friends and my future bridesmaids. But, upon being elected to Panhellenic, I met some of the greatest women I’ve ever known. These women are hardworking, dedicated members of Greek Life, and more importantly, we can openly discuss the complex and confidential dealings in the Greek community. 
Being on a Greek Council also fosters friendships outside your immediate circle. Our councils interact at conferences, in the Greek Life office, or even just at social events, and the men and women on those councils have become some of my greatest friends. No matter what council you’re a part of, knowing you have at least one friend in every sorority and fraternity on campus is a damn good feeling.

2.   You get to meet awesome, important people.
At a school of more than 20,000 undergraduates, I never imagined I would be on a first name basis with the Dean of Students or the Vice President of Student Affairs, and it really never even occurred to me that I might have any type of personal relationship with the PRESIDENT OF MY ENTIRE UNIVERSITY. But, surprise, surprise, Panhellenic has given me that too. Being on Panhellenic has opened up my world to people who can literally change the course of my college career. Last week, I received an email from the VP of Student Affairs, who was congratulating me on a speech I made at a City Council meeting. ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE AT MY COLLEGE KNOWS WHO I AM!?!

3. You realize that you can actually make a difference in your community.
Recently, the news has been filled with stories about sexual assault, racism, and hazing incidents in fraternities and sororities all over the country, and those stories ruin the reputation of these organizations as a whole. Before I became a member of Panhellenic, I was never sure that I could change those stereotypes, because I assumed it was a part of being Greek. But now, I realize that I was wrong. Change is possible. I’ve only been on Panhellenic for one quarter, and already I’ve been a part of the plans to change college culture; plans that combat sexual assault on our campus; plans to ensure safer social environments for students; plans to educate members on drinking habits and alcohol awareness prior to going through recruitment. These plans are already in place—and being a part of those plans makes me incredibly proud.
So, if you’re thinking that you’re a dedicated, passionate, driven member of Greek Life who wants to make a change, think about applying for your Greek council. You can make an impact, make some great friends, and some great memories in the process.

I want to dedicate this to the amazing women and men on Panhellenic and IFC at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. You are all some of the greatest people I’ve ever met, and I can’t wait to continue our commitment to improving our community with you all. There’s no one else I’d rather face it all with.