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WINTER 2 0 12


Creating a

Meaningful Experience in this issue: Research in Brief | Rapid Membership Growth | Facing Challenges by Challenging Students |

The Building of a Fraternity and Sorority Community | Creating a Meaningful Chapter Experience | AFA Annual Meeting | 2011 AFA Awards Recipients | Book Review

Monica L. Miranda Smalls ­– 2011 President

Allison St. Germain Perspectives is the official publication of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, Inc. (AFA). Views expressed are those of the individual authors/ contributors/advertisers, and are not necessarily those of the Association. AFA encourages the submission of articles, essays, ideas, and advertisements. All Perspectives correspondence and submissions should be submitted to:

Allison St. Germain 2012 Editor Director of Educational Technologies Delta Zeta Sorority 14 Elgin Avenue Bethel, CT 06801 asg@dzshq.com Phone: 513.523.7597 Direct: 203.798.8777 Fax: 513.523.1921


few months ago during a conversation with a colleague, she posed the question “What is the sorority experience?” That is such a short question but is probably the foundation of all that I do in my role with the organization. I wrote the question on a Post-It® note and have had it on my desk ever since. I would have loved to have had an answer right then on the phone for her, but I didn’t. I had many different answers, like any member might have if she had the same question posed to her. The fraternity/sorority experience is as different across our campuses/organizations/membership as it is similar. I’ve always said that if I had gone to the same institution where I had received my master’s as where I attended undergraduate, I may not have joined a sorority. The community was unlike the one I had joined as an undergraduate and the institution offered so many opportunities to get involved as a student that I may have made a different choice. The National Panhellenic Conference recently unveiled its new video, “Our Potential, Your Move,” at its Annual Meeting. I think it speaks to the various ways that sorority women have made an impact in the world today. There is not just one way to be a member of a sorority/fraternity; the experience is unique for each and every one of us. This issue of Perspectives will address how our communities are creating a meaningful experience for our members that, though unique to each one of us, is an experience that stays in line with our brand as a fraternal movement. How do fraternities and sororities create an experience that can be unique enough for its members, but also stay relevant to the purpose and values of the organization or campus?

Perspectives is published four times per year. Submission deadlines: February 1, 2012 Spring 2012 Summer 2012 May 1, 2012 Fall 2012 August 1, 2012 Winter 2013 November 1, 2012 Send address corrections to AFA: Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors 9640 N. Augusta Drive, Suite 433 Carmel, IN 46032 317.876.1632 Fax 317.876.3981 info@afa1976.org


View the NPC video, "Our Potential, Your Move" here.

I’m thankful every day that I chose to join a sorority. Not only has it offered me personal connections that have lasted well beyond the four years of my undergraduate experience, but I’m also one of the lucky ones to have made a professional career of fraternity/sorority life. What if all fraternity or sorority members had a meaningful experience that kept them connected for life to the fraternal movement? Imagine the number of chapter advisors we’d have…

2011 Editorial

Jason Bergeron, University of Houston Amanda Bureau, Zeta Tau Alpha

in this

Erin Huffman, Delta Gamma

8  .Research in Brief – Higher Education Issues

Christopher Kontalonis, Kappa Sigma


Rapid Membership Growth and the Newfangled Challenge of Creating a Meaningful Sorority Experience


Facing Challenges by Challenging Students

Lindsay Sell, Colorado State University


The Building of a Fraternity and Sorority Community

Nathan Thomas, Bradley University


2011 AFA Annual Meeting


2011 AFA Award Recipients


Book Review: Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations

Heather Matthews Kirk, Zeta Tau Alpha Sarah McCracken, Delta Zeta Jessica Pettitt, Kirkland Productions

Teniell Trolian, University of Iowa Rob Turning, Johns Hopkins University



Perspectives / Winter 2012

2011 President Remarks Delivered December 3, 2011 at the AFA Annual Meeting


’ve been asked a lot this week how I am feeling and how this year has gone. Each time I’ve responded: challenging, yet amazing! Indeed, those two words have captured what I feel after this last year.

When I spoke to the incoming 2011 volunteers at the Volunteer JumpStart training webinar in October 2010, I said to them that while having a new Strategic Plan would be exciting, and I quote, “This will also be a challenge as we test AFA’s limits, challenge AFA’s norms, and push the Association, its members, and especially its volunteers, to dare to be different and to dream.” I think that’s exactly what has happened, and I couldn’t be prouder to be among the group of professionals that is your 2011 AFA Executive Board. It’s about transformational change and nothing good comes easy. When thinking critically about the Strategic Plan, particularly in the area of Governance and Infrastructure, we realized, fairly quickly, that we had reached a plateau in the capacity of our Central Office staff structure. If we were going to be the Association that would serve as the catalytic force in aligning the fraternity/sorority experience with the changing dynamics and enduring principles of higher education, we were going to need to increase our staffing capacity. A year later, I have never been so confident in our Association and our potential. We have gone way out of the box in our thinking this year, as we learned a whole lot about association management and what it could do to enhance our ability to provide the highest level of member services. The only thing that can happen now is that we will become a better Association as we invest in ourselves, exactly what I committed to ensuring we would do when I stood here before you a year ago.

regular columns Editor’s Notes........................... 2 From the Top............................ 3 From Where I Sit..................... 20

Will that happen overnight? No. Yet, it will happen. It has already started to happen. The first thing we did was decide that we weren’t going to continue to do what we’ve always done. We dared to dream about the possibilities. Instead of proceeding with the hiring of a full new staff, we pushed the pause button and decided to explore our options further while implementing the short-term solution of an interim executive director and outsourced association management services with the Association of College Unions International (ACUI). I would be remiss to not let you know how amazing Sue Kraft Fussell is and how amazing and professional and phenomenal the staff at ACUI is. The decision to create an interim solution tested the limits of our Association. Simultaneously, we partnered with the Fraternity Executives Association (FEA) and the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values (AFLV) to explore the opportunity of a joint fraternal association management company. After numerous meetings of representatives from all three Associations, as you may have read in the joint statement that was disseminated via email earlier this week, AFA and AFLV have agreed to the unprecedented decision to move forward with a two-owner, joint fraternal association management company. A more efficient and effective pooling of staff support, greater efficiencies, and specialized personnel to focus on outcomes would offer the board the opportunity to focus on the work to be done and less of the operational aspects of it. The board could get out of the weeds and get to the real work of being strategic. Here we were challenging multiple norms. While we talk a lot about partnership and unifying the fraternal movement, how often do we really do that?

“We have gone way out of the box in our thinking this year, as we learned a whole lot about association management and what it could do to enhance our ability to provide the highest level of member services.”

There is no doubt that this year we stumbled a few times. We had two websites up simultaneously, we had a database that listed members’ affiliations incorrectly, and a few projects stalled, but as you heard within the aforementioned officer reports and see within the Annual End of Year Report on your chairs as you entered, we have still been very productive and have continued to provide resources, education, and significant professional development, to enhance our members’ abilities to foster impactful fraternity/ sorority experiences. For that, we are proud and ever grateful to continued... Winter 2012 / Perspectives


Shelly Brown Dobek –­ 2012 President

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the volunteer core of the Association that has driven most of that work. Even with an association management company, we will still be a volunteer-driven Association. Through this experience, we have come out learning more and understanding your needs, and those of the Association, better than we have in a long time. It pushed the Association to think differently, creatively, and critically about what we do, how we do it, and why we do what we do. We thank you for your patience; we thank you for your trust as your elected officers for 2011. A lot has happened this year, and we are coming out as a better Association and one that will be stronger for years to come. Our commitment to providing you with the best professional development opportunity is not lost on us and will be ever present as we move forward with advancing our Association. On a personal note, I must share a special thanks to my husband, who has sacrificed so much for me. Thank you for being here today with me and know that I love you. To the rest of you in that village that has helped raise me—my family, my friends, my sorors, my NALFO familia, interfraternal friends, my colleagues, my mentors, my mentees, my current and former students, my staff who allowed me to do this work while they held down the office often this year—you all know who you are and I'm blessed and thankful for all of you. It is still surreal to me that I am the 34th member of my sorority, I’m the 34th president of the Association, my initiation date is on December 11 and it is the 2011th year, my lucky number is three and today is December 3. You have all been there as I have taken the road less traveled by and, truly, that has made all the difference.

“A lot has happened this year, and we are coming out as a better Association and one that will be stronger for years to come.”

To the 2011 AFA board: Thank you for letting me be me, for providing the most phenomenal board dynamic with the highest level of respect and trust that I have ever experienced. In the 35th anniversary year we’ve done some really difficult work that will set the foundation for the future course of the Association for at least the next 35 years. Thank you for bringing your A-game to the table all day, every day, and for being like a boss! Thank you.

2012 President Remarks Delivered December 3, 2011 at the AFA Annual Meeting


ou have no idea how much I wish it were a finance report I was giving to you today. While many of you will groan at the idea of spreadsheets and calculations, I admittedly get geeked out. You see, in finance, one plus one always equals two. Formulas to help you derive answers and there is always an infallible conclusion. As president, there will be no absolutes. I will be shifting to a role of leadership, overseeing the strategic direction and operations that shape our member experience and enable our Association to realize our mission of enhancing members’ abilities to foster impactful fraternity/sorority experiences. And if that weren’t challenge enough, I will be doing so in a time of great transition for our Association. As a result, I had a hard time getting started on this speech. For many presidents, the incoming speech is a time to forecast what you want to accomplish and how you define priorities in the upcoming year. I could simply re-articulate key points of the strategic plan and pull out key deliverables that the board and volunteers and staff will prioritize. But as I listen to our members, it seems more important to shift my comments to how we are going to accomplish our work and ensure quality services to you, our members. By now most of you are aware that AFA has approved the creation of a fraternal association management company (AMC) in partnership with AFLV and that AFA will contract with the new AMC for full management services. But what does that mean to our member services, to our volunteer roles, and to our quality of resources? Let’s start by taking a closer look at how AMCs work. An association management company is a professional service firm of skilled professionals who provide management and specialized administrative services to associations and professional societies. The AMC traditionally uses a for-profit approach that runs not-forprofit associations, like businesses. AFA will pay only for the time the staff specialists work on the Association's needs. We will benefit from the professional expertise for a fraction of what it would cost to hire full-time staff. In the AMC model, our associations will receive full-time expertise for part-time needs. I think it is profound to look at how our 2010 staffing structure of four will transform into 10 in the upcoming months. Efficiency is one of the key guiding principles of AMCs and can be found in many different areas including:

• Technology investment, upgrades, and training • Buying power and participation in discount purchasing programs • Systems and procedures for managing the Association • Staff experience with issues important to associations • Team assignments—again, full-time expertise on staff to meet the part-time needs of the Association in such areas of accounting, graphic design, editorial, public relations, marketing services, or website management With the consistent complexities of the nonprofit work environment, there appears to be a strong need for an association management company that can specifically focus on and be committed to the unique needs of our industry, the fraternal industry that exists within the changing dynamics of higher education. I believe the new AMC will be uniquely positioned to deliver just that. The quality of programming provided by AFA to their members will improve as specialized personnel focus on outcomes. Our board will be more strategic instead of tactical, which will allow for stronger leadership and easier recruitment. AFA will be served by experienced, innovative association management experts who know and understand the fraternal industry because they have experience in it. Most importantly, members will benefit from a more efficient pooling of staff support. Our industry will be more effective, connected, and efficient. What the AMC won’t do is strip AFA of its identity, its volunteer structure, or its governance. We are a volunteer-driven association and will continue to be. Our volunteers will continue to generate content, then shift the refinement of the deliverable to the staff specialist or team. Moving forward, we will continue our ongoing work and advance initiatives of the strategic plan. It is essential, as members, that you can see the value of your membership and continue to enjoy access to programs and resources. At times we may continue to experience bumps in the road, and when that happens, please reach out to our staff so we can correct issues as they arise. While many will see this as a time of transition, I want to challenge us to see this as a time for transformation. It is my intent that you experience seamless membership services as we move forward and have confidence in the Association’s ability to meet your needs. The board has committed to communicate more effectively with you over the course of our staffing transition, so you can arrive at our point of transformation with confidence. We can’t guarantee that over the course of the next 6-12 months things will be as simple as one plus one is two, but we can assure you that we will do the work necessary to continue to address member needs and advance the work of the Association. So I guess the last of my remarks are to share with you, or give you insight into the woman you’ve elected to lead the charge.

My former students very much wanted me to include a theme song in my comments. Rest assured, I squashed the flash mob idea. This is a business meeting and needs to stay focused on the business of the Association. But as we laughed together sharing appropriate and sometimes inappropriate themes, one came up that I couldn’t help but latch on to. You see, my daughters and I love to watch “Glee.” And the first season was one of my favorites. The theme song of sorts for that year was a remake of a Journey classic with the first line:”Just a small town girl.” So here is where I take a risk by asking for a little crowd participation. Please indulge me while I attempt to help you see my interfraternal, personal, and professional development journey to understand its impact on my leadership and how that will ultimately play out for the Association.

"While AFA is certainly in the midst of transition, I believe, more importantly, we are in the midst of transformation. I believe we can and will do better for our members. I believe we can advance our members’ abilities to foster impactful fraternity/ sorority experiences."

I grew up in a small town not too far from here. Delavan, Illinois, boasts about 1,600 residents, has one flashing red light, and the graduating class of 1993 was only 38 people. I went to college at Southern Illinois University, where I affiliated with Delta Zeta Sorority in 1994, easily one of the best decisions I ever made. “To my mind, growth; to myself, faith that I may walk truly in the light of the flame.” These words from our creed have guided me long beyond my college years. I graduated after three years and, not quite ready to leave, I enrolled in the Higher Education College Student Personnel program. My fraternity/sorority community, advisors, and faculty who mentored me along the way had a profound impact on my understanding of higher education and shaping my undergraduate and graduate experiences. For any members of my SIUC family and any members or staff of Delta Zeta, could you please stand and remain standing? This is the participation part I warned you about. From SIU I journeyed to Bowling Green State University, where Lisa Fedler Swiontek hired me despite my showing up in sweatpants and a T-shirt after the airline lost my luggage. (A quick note to any graduate students in the audience: Always travel like the interview begins at the airport.) During my time at BGSU, I had the opportunity to be a part of an incredible team continued...


Perspectives / Winter 2012

Winter 2012 / Perspectives


The “Reel Diversity” presentation really made a positive impact on how we wish students to engage and view diversity on campus. I think the most effective was the fact that for students who identify as white...this may have been the first time they were encouraged/included in an explicit way into diversity conversations.

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and discovered a passion for working with graduate students. I was assigned to advise the NPHC, a role that broadened my understanding of the interfraternal community and fueled another area of passion in my work. Several of my undergraduate and graduate students remain in the field and are here today. Would you please stand and remain standing? In 1999, I had a transformative experience when I participated in the Interfraternity Institute (IFI). I hold fi rm that the group of men and women I attended with have continued to be some of the most involved leaders, volunteers, and professionals in the movement for more than 12 years now. We were mentored by some of the best minds in the field, several of whom continue to serve as personal mentors to me today. Would the class of ’99, our fellows, our leads, and our facilitators, please stand and remain standing? In 2001, I was welcomed into the CAMPUSPEAK family as a facilitator for SALAD. Little did I know at the time what a profound impact that experience would have on both my skills and relationships. I have had the pleasure of facilitating curriculum for more than 100 campuses, and have learned so much from my co-facilitators and real conversations with students. If you are a part of the CAMPUSPEAK staff or facilitation services team between 2001 and now, please stand and remain standing. In 2001, I relocated to North Carolina State University, where I have been empowered to facilitate change in our student culture for 11 years now. It was hard to see progress in the fi rst few years, but looking back over time, I am able to see that slow and steady progress has enabled us to move our community forward. Thank you to Dr. Tim Luckadoo, the Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, who made a special trip to be here today, and to John Mountz, for giving me the freedom and latitude to be effective in my work. My success there is defi ned by both the students and grads I have mentored over the years and continue to support as they enter the field. A funny thing has happened along the way, though. As much as they believe they have learned from and are inspired by me, it truly goes both ways. They are the crazy crew of folks that made the buttons with my face on them and sold SBD stickers to raise money for the foundation in my honor. I am forever humbled by your unwavering support and faith in me. You are my “greater than self” realized. Lastly, I can’t talk about my NC State family without mentioning another special person who came in town just to be here to support me today. We don’t often get to live in the presence of heroes, yet I have the amazing gift of sharing my world with Mindy Sopher every day. Would my NC State family please stand and remain standing. In 2005, I was elected to the AFA Executive Board as Vice President of Administration and Finance. Engagement in the Executive Board has challenged me to “elevate the level of

discourse.” Over my five years on the board, we have spent much time grappling with difficult issues and fi nding consensus. It has challenged me to think more critically, encouraged me to listen more, and prompted me to examine outcomes considering the “why” versus the “what.” Spending time there allowed me to come back to my routine tasks with more creative energy. Engagement in strategic planning has been transformative to the way I approach my professional and volunteer work. I no longer look at what I am planning this week or this year, but fi nd myself wanting to engage in the re-visioning of my work and examining how to gain the desired long-term impact from my day-to-day interactions with students. Will the members of the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011 boards and Central Office staff please stand and remain standing?

Paula Lima Jones, Dickinson College

USING POPULAR FILM AS A FUN AND EFFECTIVE WAY TO HELP COLLEGE STUDENTS ENGAGE IN TOUGH TOPICS As one of our most energizing speakers, Brian C. Johnson addresses a number of critical issues facing college students today: diversity, social justice, bullying, building strong communities through enhanced cross-cultural relationships, and successful transitions to college life. Students love the movie clips Brian customizes for each visit, and he inspires critical conversations on important issues in a fun, interactive way.

Last, but not least, my family. Mom and Dad, thank you for being here and for raising me to be a strong and independent woman. My sister, Stacy, for being a great big sister and not saying anything to embarrass me today. To my husband, Chris, thank you for being such a great dad, especially when I am on the road. Emma and Reese, I hope you are proud of me and understand the work I do is to ensure opportunities for you in the future. Know that you are always my number one priority.

REEL GREEK: WHERE HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD MEETS GREEK ROW Brian explores the influence of Hollywood on how members of the Greek community view themselves as well as the impact these images have on how/ who they recruit, the traditions and rituals they uphold, how they act in public and private and how they interact with others on campus.

So what do all of the folks standing in the room represent? My leadership and my commitments: to learn, to educate, to partner, to mentor, to volunteer, to lead, to serve. When I decided to accept the nomination to run for president, it wasn’t with an agenda in mind. I simply answered the call to serve and pledged to do my best with whatever came my way. So I stand before you today with full appreciation of all of those who have contributed to my success and humbly stand upon the shoulders of giants. So for anyone else in the room who has also attended IFI, please stand. Who has facilitated a program for a partner organization, please stand. Who has mentored undergraduates or graduate students in the field, please stand. Who has volunteered for the Association, please stand. Who believes in your abilities to foster impactful fraternity/sorority experiences, please stand. You see this is how we move the Association forward and advance our profession. Not by me standing at the front of the room, but by all of us standing together, willing to lead, willing to serve, and willing to follow—equally important roles. While AFA is certainly in the midst of transition, I believe, more importantly, we are in the midst of transformation. I believe we can and will do better for our members. I believe we can advance our members’ abilities to foster impactful fraternity/sorority experiences. I believe we can. I believe. Thank you for being a part of the journey. I wish for you the same growth, development, and amazing AFA experience.



Don’t stop believing! For more information about Brian, please contact CAMPUSPEAK at (303) 745-5545 or e-mail us at info@campuspeak.com. You can also visit Brian at www.campuspeak.com/johnson.


Perspectives / Winter 2012

REEL BIG BULLIES Brian encourages students, administrators, teachers and counselors to create a safer school environment for all students. He helps students understand the terrible toll bulling can take on its victims, and to encourage them to stand up for their classmates who are being harassed. This keynote is also perfect for hazing prevention programming. REEL DIVERSITY By sharing clips of well-known films and discussing the messages they consciously or unconsciously give, Brian allows every student to see himself or herself as diverse. Students laugh and remember some of their favorite movies, and an interactive discussion about multiculturalism can then begin. REEL DIVERSITY: MOVE OVER CHUCK & LARRY Students will examine concepts of “hetero-normativity” and its influence upon popular movies, and how young people may readily accept these images as truth. They will leave this keynote with the challenge to define their own sexual orientation in terms that are non-sexual, and a better understanding of how people’s ways of lives deserve acknowledgement and respect.

RESEARCH IN BRIEF By Teniell L. Trolian, Nathan P. Thomas, and Sarah McCracken

Higher Education Issues In cooperation with this edition’s theme on meaningful experiences, the Perspectives Editorial Board has compiled a summary of current research related to creating meaningful experiences for students. Citations are included to encourage additional reading and review of the literature on this important topic. Guthrie, K.L., & Thompson, S. (2010). Creating meaningful environments for leadership education. Journal of Leadership Education, 9(2), 50-57. Guthrie and Thompson (2010), in the Journal of Leadership Education, write about the importance of creating intentional relationships between student affairs and academic affairs to enhance the leadership learning and development experiences of students. Utilizing Kolb’s experiential learning theory as a framework, they articulate the premise that leadership education through these developed institutional relationships, should come through the three vantage points of: “formal education in theories and principles; practical experience; and reflection on experiences” (Guthrie & Thompson, 2010, p. 50). Two best practices were recognized at Florida State University (18-credit-hour Leadership Certificate program) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (leadership certificate program’s personal development plan) as models of collaborations and incorporating the three elements critical to student learning. The article emphasizes effective program development should have: • Knowledge and skill development – provide a theoretical framework and active work from the student and instructor to engage in these; • Experiences – serve as the foundation of learning and students should be challenged through activities, situations, people, and conflict in their experiences; and • Reflections – observations should be ongoing, in the framework of theory, and connected to experiences (Guthrie & Thompson, 2010). In application to fraternity and sorority advising, it is ever important to engage students in leadership learning through their experiences. Guthrie and Thompson (2010) recognize the difficulty in picking a definition of leadership among the many that exist. However, it is important to choose one and have it permeate


Perspectives / Winter 2012

through leadership development opportunities with students. Even if the formal relationships between student and academic affairs do not exist (this can and should become an institutional goal), a definition or model of leadership should be chosen in your work. This can then provide a framework for your work and a consistent set of terms and principles across your leadership groups. In turn, this will enhance the practical experiences students are gaining and can provide structure to those reflections that take place formally through your office or informally in the conversations among peers. While the article emphasizes creating intentional relationships between student and academic affairs, its scope can be further expanded by taking it to specifically the fraternity and sorority advisor and implementing the development ideas into a student leadership program through daily practice, language, and conversations. Ultimately the goal is to create a “seamless learning environment … with the opportunity to reach their (students) full leadership potential” (Guthrie & Thompson, 2010, p. 51). The learning environment can be created today within our offices and then used as a model to further incorporate the campus community.

Kinzie, J., & Schuh, J. H. (2008). DEEP (documenting effective educational practice) colleges and universities as communities. NASPA Journal, 45, 406-422. Kinzie and Schuh (2008), in “DEEP Colleges and Universities as Communities,” evaluate the practices of DEEP (Documenting Effective Educational Practice) institutions (Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, & Whitt, 2005), through the lens of John Gardner’s characteristics of community. According to Gardner (1989), “We know that where community exists it confers upon its members’ identity a sense of belonging and a measure of security” (p. 73). The authors note that, “As colleges and universities have grown in complexity, establishing and sustaining strong campus communities has been described as challenging and difficult” (p. 406). Kinzie and Schuh (2008) look at DEEP institutions as they relate to seven of Gardner’s characteristics of community. 1. Good Communities Incorporate and Value Diversity: DEEP institutions that Incorporate and Value Diversity use symbolism to represent their diverse communities, educate students about diversity in and outside of the classroom, and “commit physical space to diversity” (p. 411). At these institutions, diversity within the community is acknowledged through the allocation of physical space and is integrated into the student academic and co-curricular experience.

2. Good Communities Have a Shared Culture: DEEP institutions that have a Shared Culture perceive themselves as unique from other institutions and provide a set of shared or common experiences for students. Additionally, these institutions use “a combination of traditions, rituals, special events, artifacts, and other cultural elements” (p. 412) that contribute to their perceived uniqueness. At these institutions, community is developed through shared experiences that are special to campus community members. 3. Good Communities Foster Internal Communication: At DEEP institutions that Foster Internal Communication, “good communications begin when students make their first contact with the college or university and continue through their entire experience” (p. 412). These institutions ensure that their written mission statements align with practices, and they host programs and events that facilitate communication with students about institutional expectations and sources of support. 4. Good Communities Promote Caring, Trust, and Teamwork: DEEP institutions that Promote Caring, Trust, and Teamwork “work together to provide assistance to students” (p. 414). Faculty, staff, and administrators work collaboratively to ensure student success and provide programs and staff that support students who may be struggling. 5. Good Communities Have Group Maintenance Processes and Governance Structures that Encourage Participation and Sharing of Leadership Tasks: DEEP institutions that Encourage Participation and Sharing of Leadership Tasks insist on student agency. “Student agency [is] defined as students being encouraged to take initiative and having the authority to make meaningful decisions that affect the entire community, not just their sphere of it” (p. 414). At these institutions, students participate in campus governance; delivery of courses, programs, and services; and student leadership experiences. 6. Good Communities Foster the Development of Young People: At DEEP institutions that Foster the Development of Young People, emphasis is placed on student learning and development. Community experiences provide support for learning in and outside of the classroom and emphasize continued student development. 7. Good Communities Have Links to the Outside World: DEEP institutions that Have Links to the Outside World support out-of-class experiences where students can engage in the

community beyond their institution. These institutions provide programs such as “volunteer and community involvement experiences, research opportunities, or professional development experiences” (p. 416) that support connections to the broader community. Additional Sources: Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., & Whitt, E. J. (2005). Student success in college: Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Gardner, J. W. (1989, Fall). Building community. Kettering Review, 73–81.

Kuh, G. D., Cruce, T. M., Shoup, R., Kinzie, J., & Gonyea, R. M. (2008). Unmasking the effects of student engagement on first-year college grades and persistence. The Journal of Higher Education, 79, 540-563. To fill a gap in the literature, Kuh et al. (2008) in Unmasking the Effects of Student Engagement on First-Year College Grades and Persistence seek to explore student success through the lens of significant student behaviors and institutional practices as well as the effects of student engagement on students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. The following research questions were posed: • Does engagement during the first year of college have a significant impact on first-year grade point average and chances of returning for a second year of college, net of the effects of student background, pre-college experiences, prior academic achievement, and other first-year experiences? • Are the effects of engagement general or conditional? That is, do the effects of engagement on the outcomes under study differ by such student characteristics as race and ethnicity (for GPA and persistence) and prior academic achievement (for GPA only)? (Kuh et al., 2008, p. 543) Because the study utilized data from the National Student on Student Engagement (NSSE), student background and precollegiate information including GPA and ACT/SAT scores, and college institutional research information including academic and financial aid, it provides a “longitudinal look at students from before college entry to the fall of their second academic year” (Kuh et al, 2008, p. 544). Considering first-year academic achievement, Kuh et al. (2008) found that pre-college experiences, prior academic achievement, and demographic information explain 29 percent of the variance in first-year grades. When student engagement factors are


Winter 2012 / Perspectives



interactive workshops

Smart, simple, on target. An important concept for all student leaders to understand before they start banging their heads against a wall, trying to engage every member. The practical ideas will transform how they work, achieve results and avoid burnout. Lori Hart, Ph.D.

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added to the model, the effects of the above remain statistically significant but reduce in degree. This affirms previous research that who students are when they arrive at college explains a great deal about student success, but not all. As expected, Kuh et al. (2008) confirmed that participation in educationally purposeful activities produced a small, compensatory effect on the firstyear GPA of students with lower levels of pre-college academic achievement. For the same level of involvement, this effect lessened in magnitude with increased ACT scores. When considering race and ethnicity, Kuh et al. (2008) found “all else being equal, a one standard deviation increase in student involvement in educationally purposeful activities resulted in about .11 advantage in first-year GPA for Hispanic students compared with only .03 benefit for White students” (p. 550). Consistent with other research, Kuh et al. (2008) found that engaging in educationally purposeful activities resulted in a positive, statistically significant effect on persistence. This effect exists even after controlling for background characteristics, financial aid, academic achievement, etc. No differences were found when considering race in the impact of educationally

purposeful activities on persistence. However, a statistically significant differential effect was found between African American and White students. African American students benefited more from increases in engagement than White students. Overall, African American students had the lowest engagement levels. However, “As African American student engagement reached the average amount, they became more likely than White students to return for a second year” (p. 551).




The two general findings of this report that 1) engagement in educationally purposeful activities is related to positive academic outcomes, and 2) these positive effects are greater for lower ability students and students of color, create several important reflection questions for fraternity/sorority professionals. How can the fraternity/sorority experience contribute to an educationally purposeful environment for its members? What programs/ initiatives can be implemented by a local or inter/national organization to improve the academic environment of their organization? How can a fraternity/sorority life office further engage low-ability students or students of color in educationally purposeful activities?

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Perspectives / Winter 2012

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Rapid Membership Growth and the Newfangled Challenge of Creating a Meaningful Sorority Experience

For the past four academic years, the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) has reported that membership growth has been on the rise, and the trend is predicted to continue

By Kathleen R. Gillan


ationwide, many fraternity/sorority communities are noticing a new trend affecting membership; increasing numbers of undergraduates are once again choosing to join fraternities and sororities. This membership trend is proving to be challenging for many fraternity/sorority communities (Fultonburg, 2010) who want to make sure that sustained growth and a positive experience are not mutually exclusive.

in 2008 and 2011 respectively. In November 2011, the Alabama Panhellenic Association again approved extension with the intent of conducting a stacked extension, whereby three additional NPC sororities will be selected to colonize in 2013, 2015, and 2017. The Alabama Panhellenic community is hopeful that the addition of new sororities will help to address the large chapter membership numbers by lowering chapter total and quota.

For the past four academic years, the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) has reported that membership growth has been on the rise, and the trend is predicted to continue (Anas, 2011). According to NPC, sorority membership reached a record high in 2010-2011 with the recent report of a total of 285,543 undergraduate members (Anas, 2011). The current undergraduate membership numbers indicate that sorority participation has increased by more than 15 percent between 2008 and 2011, with the most substantial annual increase of 6.2 percent occurring from 2010 to 2011 (Anas, 2011). Pete Smithhisler, CEO of the NorthAmerican Interfraternity Conference, likewise acknowledges that fraternities are also experiencing similar trends to those reported by NPC and attributes this growth phenomenon to the millennial generation (Fultonburg, 2010). He contends that while students continue to join fraternities and sororities for individual growth, the real attraction of membership is the acquisition of valuable life skills (Fultonburg, 2010).

This continued membership growth at UA has created challenges for many of the Panhellenic sororities and brings to light the overarching questions: “When is a chapter too large?” and “What experience are chapters realistically providing their membership given these constraints?” Creating a meaningful sorority experience when housing facilities struggle to accommodate current chapter membership numbers requires a creative solution. Chapters at UA conduct meal functions in rotating shifts and hold chapter meetings in academic classrooms or off-campus venues. Programmatic efforts have also been affected, and many sororities divide their chapter by new member classes to effectively program. Additionally, since sorority houses only sleep between 28–51 women, a small percentage of members can actually experience living in a sorority house. Chapters have also had to be creative in how they conduct normal chapter operations such as voting and taking chapter attendance. Technology and social media play an increasingly important role in chapter communication and chapter operations. Risk management can also be challenging for sororities who are now planning large-scale events, whether it is a chapter retreat or a social. These events involve a significant amount of preparation and planning, particularly when it comes to logistics and transportation.

At The University of Alabama, 28 percent of the undergraduate population is involved in fraternity and sorority life. The UA fraternity/sorority community is 164 years old and represented by four governing councils that have 56 organizations totaling more than 7,000 members. UA’s fraternity/sorority community has more than doubled in size since 2002, outpacing the growth of the university. Since 2000, the size of the sorority community has grown from just over 1,900 women to well over 4,400 women, a growth of 132 percent, compared to a growth of 63 percent in the university’s total enrollment during the same time frame. Due to the rapid growth of the Panhellenic community, many of the sororities have grown exceptionally large. While chapter total is currently set at 260, most of the NPC sororities at UA have more than 270 members, with the largest chapter reporting 302 members for Fall 2011. The University of Alabama Office of Greek Affairs and the Alabama Panhellenic Association have been proactive in addressing this sustained growth through the annual evaluation of chapter total and the appropriate use of extension. Panhellenic total is evaluated every fall immediately following formal recruitment to ensure it is an accurate reflection of the Panhellenic community. Panhellenic extension was recommended in 2007, and Alpha Phi and Delta Gamma were added to the UA Panhellenic community 12

Perspectives / Winter 2012

Since this membership trend is a new phenomenon, there is little research regarding the effects that rapid membership growth has on chapters and/or chapter members. What is known, however, according to Eve Riley, former Chairman of NPC, is that, “regardless of the current climate, NPC continues at a healthy pace of growth” (National Panhellenic Conference, 2011, ¶ 3). Additionally, contends Riley, “We know that women in college are still searching for a meaningful experience and sororities continue to fill that niche” (National Panhellenic Conference, 2011, para. 3). The complaint heard most often from sorority chapter leadership at UA is that few individuals outside of the Alabama Panhellenic community understand what it is like to be an officer in an organization with a large membership, nor do they realize the constant pressure that collegiate women experience as a result of leading chapters of more than 200 members. This unpredicted membership growth has created an opportunity for conversations about how the Office of Greek Affairs can better assist and support its Panhellenic chapters. While we do not claim to have all the

answers, we have been able to implement a number of initiatives that our chapters have found beneficial. Once a month, the Panhellenic Executive Board hosts a roundtable for sorority chapter presidents that provides an opportunity to interact socially and form relationships so they can support one another. The Alabama Panhellenic Association and Office of Greek Affairs also provide direct support to New Member Educators. Meetings are held on a monthly basis for New Member Educators, allowing them to not only share the challenges associated with their position, but also best practices they have discovered to address them. Additionally, a number of resources and programs have been implemented or are in the process of being developed for Panhellenic New Member Educators, including a three-part Alcohol Education Module, New Member Educator Resource Guide, and Peer Education Programs that address women’s empowerment, dating and domestic violence, positive body image, and alcohol poisoning prevention. If this recent membership growth trend continues as expected, then fraternity and sorority campus professionals, as well as international headquarters staff, need to be prepared and ready to focus on how they can best support chapters in creating a meaningful sorority experience for their members, officers, and alumnae volunteers. This responsibility does solely rest on the shoulders one of one person or a few individuals, but instead needs to be a collaborative effort of the inter/national organization and campus-based professionals. – Kathleen Gillan is the Assistant Director of Greek Affairs at The University of Alabama. REFERENCES

Anas, B. (2011, August 18). CU-Boulder sororities outpacing national growth. Daily Camera. Retrieved from http://www. dailycamera.com/. Fultonburg, L. (2010, January 27). Greek recruitment numbers increase at su, nationally. The Daily Orange. Retrieved from http://www.dailyorange.com/. National Panhellenic Conference. (2011). National Panhellenic Conference continues to document growth: Undergraduate women continue to explore sorority life. [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.npcwomen.org/news-media/articledetails.aspx?id=71&article_type=2.

Winter 2012 / Perspectives




aced with a record-breaking number of over 1,000 students joining the fraternity/sorority community at the University of South Carolina (USC) in fall 2011, USC saw new member classes that topped 108 women in some Panhellenic organizations. Although the high level of student interest in sorority and fraternity life is exciting, it has posed challenges in terms of having vital conversations with incoming members about important topics such as values, alcohol prevention, leadership, and brotherhood and sisterhood. To educate new members, the Sorority and Fraternity Life staff at USC created a new program titled Greek New Member Summit. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how USC’s Sorority and Fraternity Life team implemented the New Member Summit and to share specific suggestions for other campuses looking to enhance their own educational programming. Sorority and Fraternity Life staff members at USC spend time on a daily basis dealing with student judicial issues. After a troubling series of alcohol-related incidents during fraternity recruitment in Fall 2011, staff members realized they needed to take a different approach to educating the fraternity/sorority community. The New Member Summit was created to help students connect on a deeper personal level with the Sorority and Fraternity Life staff, other than the more superficial relationships generated via mandatory programming and/or paperwork handled through the office. The New Member Summit was initiated as a two-month program with sessions being held three days a week. A different theme was presented every two weeks. This gave the staff the opportunity to accommodate an estimated 1,500 new fraternity/sorority members. Eighty percent of chapters’ new members were asked to attend the summit. The new members were told by their organizations that it was a requirement for them to attend, but there were no consequences imposed if members did not attend. Outside of the classroom experiences prove to have a lasting impact on a student. For this reason, it was not mandated to attend because the willingness of the students to engage in conversation is extremely important in the success of the program. Every person that attended a session had their university ID card scanned to track attendance. In the first two weeks, approximately 50 people attended each session. One strategy that likely facilitated good student turnout was that various organizations agreed to host the meetings in the common areas in chapter houses. After the first two weeks, attendance decreased to about 25 per session. The lack of consequences may have led to this issue. James Crawford, graduate assistant in the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life, stated that another factor in the decreased attendance in the subsequent sessions may have been that as the semester went on, organizations began to initiate members and some students mistakenly assumed they no longer had to attend the sessions once they had been initiated (personal communication, October 24, 2011).

THE NEW MEMBER SUMMIT THEMES The themes the summit focused on were values, alcohol, leadership and brotherhood and sisterhood. According to Ryan Williams, Assistant Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life at USC, these 14

Perspectives / Winter 2012

themes were selected because of difficulties that the community had been facing (personal communication, December 16, 2011). Facilitator guides were developed for each theme to guide the conversation pertaining to each of the four themes.

Values The first new member education sessions explored values. The values portion of the curriculum outline included a step-by-step guide that included introductions, expectations, and discussion questions. The introduction included basic information on the Sorority and Fraternity Life office, the location, and which staff member was leading the discussion. Keith Ellis, director of Sorority and Fraternity Life at USC, stated that essential to the program’s success was creating partnerships on campus and making sure that different professionals were available to lead the discussions each night (personal communication, October 31, 2011).Other topics covered were the definition of sorority and fraternity life, the purpose of the sessions, and what to expect from the sessions. The advisor leading the session made the new members aware of the sorority and fraternity life culture pertinent on the campus before beginning the discussion on values. The fraternal culture will vary between campuses, but regardless of the campus fraternity/sorority culture each organization strives to exceed the expectations set by the founders of each organization. Because “peer learning in small group settings have been said to transform a student’s learning experiences, helping them identify as a group and holding each other accountable” (Blumenfeld, Marx, Soloway, & Krajcik, 1996), structured small group interactions were built into the program. Students were divided into small groups and then asked to identify their personal values and whether they were congruent with those of their organization. The facilitator guide packets included information on the values and mission of each organization on campus. If the new members did not know the values of their organization, the facilitator would share the information with them. The facilitator then asked the participants what they felt the overall student body thought fraternity/sorority members at USC valued. Students recognized the incongruences between what others think members value and what the organizations value. Some of the final discussion questions included asking participants how they planned to hold other new and continuing members accountable for living these values and whether they thought this would be an easy or difficult task. After the small group discussions, the staff leader asked each group to name personal values that they identified during their discussion. The staff leader helped put into perspective that fraternal organizations were established based on the values of their founders and how those values set a fraternal organization apart from a club or team.

During the alcohol educational session the facilitators focused on presenting new information on alcohol consumption to the new members. According to Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, many of the members joining the fraternity/sorority community can be associated with the preconventional level of morality in which students conceptualize bad actions with punishments (Kohlberg & Hersh, 1977). The purpose of the New Member Summit program was to take students to the next step to analyze how their actions affect them, the people around them, and society as a whole. Instead of falling into the trap of lecturing students about why consuming alcohol is a high-risk behavior, the facilitators created an interactive activity to bring the situation to life for the students. They were given small plastic cups resembling a shot glass and a large Solo red cup typically found at parties. Participants were asked to pour the equivalent of one shot into the red Solo cup. Afterward, they were told to pour the contents in the red Solo cup into the small “shot glass” plastic cups. Most of the students were surprised to learn that the one small plastic cup was actually the equivalent of two shots. Facilitators also asked a series of questions such as, “What is a standard drink? How many drinks can you consume in an hour before you are considered intoxicated? and How many drinks are in a mixed drink?” The facilitators also asked reflective questions such as, “Do you really need to have alcohol to have fun?” Facilitators ended the session by tying in the lessons learned during the previous values session. The new members were asked to identify positive and negative ways that alcohol affects the values of scholarship, leadership, friendship, and service. To conclude the session, the new members were provided astonishingly high statistics pertaining to the USC Sorority and Fraternity Life community. One of the statistics compared the total number of hospital transportations due to alcohol-related issues were affiliated with that were reported. The university reported a total of 115 hospital transports, 51 being fraternal members. A main theme of the alcohol education sessions was to empower the new members to lead the way and stand for the values of their organizations when alcohol related incidents arise.

Leadership The Sorority and Fraternity Life staff members wanted to change the perception of leadership being an elected office by helping students realize their full leadership potential from their first moments as new members. The leadership education sessions focused on the importance of standing by individual values as a student leader and how those values shape a student’s leadership experience. A facilitator began the session by introducing a panel of fraternity/sorority student leaders on campus and had them define “leadership” and how every member is a leader. The new members had the opportunity to ask the panel about their experiences as student leaders. The student leaders incorporated the effects of alcohol and poor decision making in their comment about how to be a leader with integrity. Afterward, the new members were debriefed on how all three topics (values, alcohol,

and leadership) covered in the summits sessions were related, intertwined, and relevant throughout their college experiences.

Brotherhood and Sisterhood Fraternal organizations share a strong unifying solidarity of lifelong friendship but that is usually not the first description that comes to mind when someone says the word fraternity and sorority life. On many campuses, there is a negative connotation to being a member of a fraternity/sorority. Negative media portrayals can make new members unsure about what to expect. How do we convey the positive benefits of brotherhood and sisterhood? To accomplish this task, the facilitator shared experiences members of the fraternity/ sorority community might encounter and shared how brotherhood and sisterhood connects all fraternal organizations. The students then broke into small groups to discuss the expectations of brotherhood and sisterhood within each chapter. The facilitator presented them with different situations, primarily circumstances in which students should be looking out for the well-being of other members such as rape and sexual assault. Afterward, the facilitator initiated a discussion on how the new members thought that brotherhood and sisterhood related to other topics such as academics and the topics covered in the summit series.

CONCLUSION Education and knowledge empower individuals. The New Member Summit at the University of South Carolina sought to educate students by providing active learning opportunities on the topics of values, alcohol, leadership, and brotherhood and sisterhood. The New Member Summit utilized conversations, peer-to-peer interaction, hands-on scenarios, and reflective development to educate students on these important topics. Regardless of organization or institution size, meaningful conversations make way for meaningful experiences. The hope is that new members now feel empowered to stand up for what is right and model the behavior and ideal values of a fraternity/sorority member. – Dania Castro is the Undergraduate Admissions Telecounseling Supervisor at the University of South Carolina. REFERENCES

Blumenfeld, C. P., Marx, R. W., Soloway, E., & Krajcik, J. (1996). Learning with peers: From small group cooperation to collaborative communities. American Educational Research Association, 25(8), 37-40. Retrieved from http://www.jstor. org/stable/1176492?seq=1. Crawford, J. (October 24, 2011). Personal Communication. Kohlberg, L., & Hersh, R. H. (1977). Moral development: A review of the theory. Theory into Practice, 12(2), 53-59. Williams, R. (December 16,2011). Personal Communication.

Alcohol Education In the second week of the program, the staff summarized the discussion on values and then demonstrated how values relate to alcohol education. Prior to this event, alcohol education frequently comprised showing videos and then testing students’ knowledge. However, some students did not learn much from this method.




IN HONOR OF gifts The 2011 Annual Meeting was an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding work of some of our most accomplished members in the profession. To date, $14,832 has been received in honor of these professionals. These individuals have contributed countless hours to the betterment of the fraternal movement, and the AFA Foundation is pleased to recognize their outstanding work.

Sue Kr aft Fussell Distinguished Service Award: Angela Guillory Dr. Grahaeme A. Hesp Carolyn E. Whittier, Ph.D. Dan Wrona Bonnie Wunsch

Photos by GreekYearbook

Robert H. Shaffer Award: Dr. Ron Binder Jack L. Anson Award: Mark Koepsell

The AFA Foundation exists to help further the education and professional development of those who work tirelessly to advance the values of fraternities and sororities. At the Closing Banquet, we were challenged to “Excellence” and to ask the question of “What If?” The work of our profession has been furthered by these “In Honor Of” gifts. How are you rising to that challenge?

How Can I Be Involved? RECURRING GIFTS For more information on setting up a regular automatic donation on your credit card, contact the AFA Foundation office: foundation@ fraternityadvisors.org or 678-654-6207, or go to www.afa1976.org/ Foundation/MakeADonation.aspx and select “Donate Monthly” or “Donate Quarterly.” Your recurring gift ensures that your donation continues to have a positive impact on the AFA Foundation and the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors. ONLINE GIFTS To make a gift online, please go to www.afa1976.org/Foundation/ MakeADonation.aspx – you will complete one page on the AFA Foundation site then complete a PayPal page.

ESTATE GIFTS List the AFA Foundation as a beneficiary in your will, individual retirement plan, or life insurance policy. You may wish to keep your gift anonymous, but if you would like to notify the AFA Foundation of your intent, you will be listed as a member of the Amicus Sequentes Circle. ENDOWMENTS Individuals, businesses, and organizations are welcome to endow a gift to provide continued funding for an AFA program. Many of these gifts are in honor of specific individuals.

AFA Foundation | 9640 Augusta Drive, Suite 433 | Carmel, IN 46032 As a registered 501(c)(3) organization, the Foundation raises money through individual, organizational, and corporate donations to provide the highest quality professional development opportunities for AFA members. Gifts are tax-deductible to the extent the law permits.

The Building of a Fraternity and Sorority Community By Thomas Whitcher


n the fall of 2006, the Vice Chancellor for Student Life of Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) organized a task force responsible for exploring the establishment of a Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) program at the institution. Similar efforts had taken place in 2000 and 2001, but a recent upswing in the number of organizations showing interest in expanding to campus fostered a new need. The group, chaired by the Assistant Vice Chancellor, a former campus fraternity and sorority advisor, was charged with the following: • What should a model 21st century Greek Life program look like on a metropolitan university campus? • How would such a program support the mission of both IUPUI and the Division of Student Life? • Should a proposal be developed for the creation of a formal Greek Life program at IUPUI? (Ross, 2007) Located in downtown Indianapolis, IUPUI was formed in 1969 out of a partnership between Indiana University and Purdue University. In 40 short years, the partnership has blossomed into the Indiana’s premier urban public research institution serving more than 30,000 students, many of whom commute and work while taking classes. While the Division of Student Life was developed 30 years after IUPUI was founded, fraternal organizations have been present from the beginning. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.(1920), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (1925), and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (1963) each had active chapters established at what were then the IU and Purdue branch campuses in Indianapolis. The next group of organizations to join the campus wouldn’t occur until the 1980s with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (1985) and Phi Mu (1989) followed by a surge of colonizations in the 1990s with three fraternities and two sororities establishing chapters, spurring the institution’s initial inquiries into Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL). At the time the task force was preparing its findings, the community had grown to support 10 chapters and four colonies. In July 2007, the task force of eight staff members and six students submitted their fi ndings that a FSL “program would greatly enhance opportunities for student involvement at IUPUI, and would lead to gains in student engagement and academic success” (Ross, 2007). To support the program, the group called for the hiring of a full-time professional and two graduate assistants to carry out the vision of building a model 21st century community based on values with a strong emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through strategic planning, the staff broke down this vision into the following areas: • Policy Development

Perspectives / Winter 2012

As staff members began working with the community, it was evident that processes were needed to assist in opening communication with chapters in relation to the areas of student involvement, intake and new member education, and community growth. Supporting industry standards and best practices while developing a system that would provide equal application to a diverse group of chapters was a challenging task that would take a great deal of research and intentionality. To begin this process, information was gathered including the standards of industry partners, resource guides provided by AFA, and the practices of IUPUI’s urban peer group (Samuel, Loge, & Matthews, 2008). This peer group would prove to be an essential component given the shared nature of institution setting, student demographics, and fraternity and sorority community composition. From this work, policies and processes were developed for expansion and extension, intake and new member education, chapter rosters, and the community academic report. The expansion and extension policy allowed for clarification of the different avenues an organization could use to join the IUPUI community. The policy kept in mind the importance of student leadership as it relates to community development, self-governance, and peer accountability. Using the AFA NPHC Membership Intake Guide (AFA, 2008) as a framework provided expectations for intake and new member education for all chapters. These expectations allowed staff to be more aware of activities going on within chapters while providing opportunities to engage students in intentional conversations around community and organizational values. Building on practices gathered from the peer group, implementing a standard officer and roster update process allowed staff to have a better understanding of community demographics while providing more accurate membership and academic achievement information. A common challenge with any new process or standard is initial push back from a variety of constituents. To ease the community through this transition, staff rolled out these policies and processes in phases, initially making them voluntary before mandatory. Taking the time to connect with and educate chapter advisors throughout the implementation proved a huge success as it allowed advisors to advocate and educate students on the reason for change. Three years later, these policies have laid a strong foundation for staff to assess the trends of the FSL program in terms of membership and academic achievement. These trends have driven growth plans and intentional conversations about attention to and celebration of academics.

• Community Development • Program Development • Fostering Support


Policy Development

continued... Winter 2012 / Perspectives


continued from page 17

Community Development Prior to the establishment of the task force, the interaction between each chapter was minimal, as there was no motivation or opportunity for the groups to come together. Using the social change model of leadership (Higher Education Research Institute, 1996), the challenge for staff was to get students to think differently about the way they viewed community. To start this process, FSL staff took a group of student leaders on a daylong strategic planning retreat to identify their common purpose. A significant component of this opportunity focused on educating students about the diverse group of chapters present in the community, their history, and the characteristics that distinguish yet unify them as a fraternity and sorority community. Building off of the task force’s guiding principles, the conversation turned to walking the students through a series of exercises aimed at helping them establish their own vision, mission, and values for the community. With the student-established vision in place, the focus turned to stabilizing and developing community governance. Prior to the establishment of the task force in 2006, there was only one council in the community, the National Pan-Hellenic Council of IUPUI (NPHC). As the stabilization of this council and the development of the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils began, intentional steps were taken to respect individuality and build on commonality where possible. While all three councils were at different stages in their own development, all were in need of a sense of purpose, leadership development, and unity. For the Interfraternity Council, the challenge was getting a group of chapters to work together who previously had no reason to. The conversation starting point began at a basic level, engaging the student leaders in developing a sense of purpose for the council outside of a regulating body. To achieve this, numerous meetings took place where chapter advisors from the three member organizations assisted in the process, describing their collegiate and professional experience as fraternity men providing guidance not only to those they advise but for the entire community to hear. This showcase of unity helped collegians understand what binds them as organizations and that their greatest success would be in working together instead of remaining divided. In working with the member chapters of the NPHC, the challenges were multiple and complex. The once active and vibrant council was struggling with chapter buy-in and support. Additionally, the body and member chapters were now being advised by a staff member, not of African-American descent or a member of a Divine Nine organization, in a university office that had historically not supported fraternal organizations and specifically NPHC chapters. Connecting with these student leaders and their advisors was a priority from the onset. It was important that they understood that FSL and the staff responsible for establishing community would not be successful if the council and its chapters didn’t succeed and excel. Through numerous town hall meetings with members from all chapters and the garnered support of advisors and campus professionals, the council began to progress with increased attendance at meetings, an increased presence of chapters on campus, and ultimately a sense of community among students affiliated with an NPHC organization. 18

Perspectives / Winter 2012

The initial challenge in establishing a Panhellenic Council was reducing the competitiveness among the two member organizations. A turnover in officers along with the intentional selection of student leaders to champion the process allowed for the community to begin identifying what Panhellenic life at a large urban public university could be. To help guide this decision-making process, the women turned to their urban peers at California State Universities at Fullerton and Long Beach, along with Georgia State University. Understanding how these communities have grown and structured their programs provided the needed guidance for both collegiate and chapter advisors.

Program Development Building off the society/community component of the social change model, programs implemented focused on developing citizenship. To accomplish this, educational programs were developed for new members, rising leaders, and senior leaders. In the fi rst year, staff implemented a new member orientation program with the expectation that all individuals would go through the program within a year of being initiated into their respective fraternity or sorority. This short four-hour program would take place on a Saturday late in the semester and focus on two objectives. The fi rst component of the program concentrated on educating participants on the diverse make-up of the fraternity and sorority community by going over the evolution of the fraternal movement and its concurrence with the opening of higher education to different student populations. The latter half of the program focused on connecting students as a community through engaging activities that reinforced the success of a growing community relies heavily on the interdependence of members and chapters. Originally implemented by staff, the program became an initiative of IUPUI’s chapter of Order of Omega once the group was established. To further leadership development, resources were invested in conferences and retreats. Council leadership allocated funds to send individuals to regional and national leadership conferences. Program staff implemented a biannual community leadership retreat. Through both initiatives, great attention was given to crafting an experience for students that provided them opportunities to engage with individuals they normally would not interact. This intentionality fostered organic relationships, allowing for peer-to-peer education on the differences and similarities of chapters within the community and laid a foundation for future collaboration. Investing in an annual council officer retreat provided an opportunity for the leadership of the community to build relationships and, more importantly, identify areas of collaboration. This time together was also used for strategic planning and goal setting that, in turn, would be used for the annual community awards.

In collaboration with neighboring institutions, IUPUI was able to provide a chapter advisor professional development opportunity focusing on current trends within the field, strategies for success in developing student leaders, and challenges facing fraternities and sororities at local and regional levels. To engage faculty and staff on campus, staff instituted a biannual luncheon for campus employees who are affiliated with a fraternity or sorority. This program provided updates on the growing IUPUI community, connected faculty and staff with current undergraduate leaders, and engaged graduate students in a professional setting—proving that membership is not just an undergraduate experience. As a growing program, the establishment of an advisory board offered checks, balances, and advocacy. Requiring all policies to be approved by the board allowed for a sense of ownership and empowerment of the members. Regular communication in between meetings and utilizing board members for award committees and leadership programs was critical to keep members engaged, as meetings took place quarterly.

Implications for Practice Over the past four years, there have been a number of lessons learned and truths discovered in building a fraternity and sorority community. First, things will fail, and that’s ok. In the third year of the program, staff took their fi rst full step back and gave students ownership over a number of programs in the community. While it was tough watching potential train wrecks come hurling down the tracks, there was great value in the students going through the experience. People got upset, communication gaps were identified, resources were developed, and things improved the next year. Second, don’t fear assessment. Throughout the development of the program, staff never proposed something new or recommended a change without backing it up with data collected from the community or researching best practices within the field. This small step yielded greater community buy-in and provided a platform to empower students to take over ownership over the

direction of their community. Most importantly, understand that fraternity/sorority life is a relationship-based field. Going back to the social change model of leadership, getting students to think differently about how they viewed community took place because of intentional investment of time with students, advisors, and other outside stake holders. Being intentional in working with outside facilitators, partnering with advisors, and crafting programs that all send a similar and consistent message continues to be a key success in moving the program forward. Finally, celebrate success yet learn from your mistakes. Taking time to recognize the accomplishments, no matter how large or small, and the contributions of those involved has great value. – Thomas Whitcher is the house director for Phi Delta Theta at Butler University. REFERENCES

Association of Fraternity Advisors. (2008). NPHC membership intake guide. Retrieved from http://www.afa1976.org/ Portals/0/Membership_Intake_Guide_NPHC.pdf. Higher Education Research Institute. (1996). A social change model of leadership development guidebook. Version III. Los Angeles, CA: Higher Education Research Institute. Ross, F. E. (2007). Advancing student engagement at an urban university: developing a model 21st century greek life program at IUPUI. Retrieved from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Fraternity and Sorority Life Web site: http://life.iupui.edu/osi/fsl/assessment/task.html. Samuel, T., Loge, S. & Matthews, H. (2008). Fraternity and sorority life recommendations for the future greek life task force 2007-2008. Retrieved from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Fraternity and Sorority Life Web site: http://life.iupui.edu/osi/fsl/assessment/task.html.

Fostering Support Developing the ability to engage faculty, staff, and advisors would prove crucial in not only supporting but also increasing awareness that fraternities and sororities do exist on campus. To accomplish this, staff implemented advisor training, a program to engage faculty, staff, and an advisory board for the program. Winter 2012 / Perspectives


From Where I Sit

Meaningful Chapter Experience From the Start Creating a

By Paul Lawson


raternity/sorority professionals spend considerable time planning the growth of their organization or community through what is known as expansion or extension. As a whole, we have done this pretty poorly over the last two decades. Do we have success stories of thriving new chapters? Of course we do! Unfortunately, these success stories are not the norm. Most organizations have had expansion groups not make it to chartering, and many campuses have not been very strategic with expansion over the years. What we do know is that expansion done right can be a tremendous opportunity to bring long-term change to a community, creating a new type of organization that may not been currently have a presence on a campus. This transformational experience can really only exist if the organization and campus truly partner to make expansion meaningful for the students and the campus community. Starting a new group from scratch is only the beginning; adding a new group to campus creates opportunities that will reverberate through the community. It might be just the type of tool needed to promote positive, community-wide change professionals (and students). How do campuses and organizations create a partnership that results in a meaningful experience?

From Where I Sit is a section in Perspectives featuring a personal perspective on the interfraternal community. Do you have an opinion to share on fraternity/sorority life? Tell us how things look from where you sit by emailing your thoughts to the editor at asg@dzshq.com, and you could see your ideas in a future issue of Perspectives.


Perspectives / Winter 2012

The fraternal organization has the onus to recruit, train, and support the new chapter, but the campus professionals are an equal part in the equation for a successful colonization. Expansion/ extension must be a collaboration between the organization and the campus community.

To enable the experience to be meaningful, you have to allow these others to be involved in creating what meaningful means to them. These university employees are vested, they know great students on campus, and they feel they know what it means to create a meaningful student development experience on their campus.

From the fi rst day of PR and recruitment, the starting of a new chapter can be tailored and crafted to create a meaningful experience for the members who will join.

Expansion/extension should not be about a house or facility, what council the group belongs in, current membership statistics, or what division they play in intramurals. It should be about the difference that students who join this organization could make on campus. Setting a vision for the organization that will augment the fraternity/sorority and campus missions is a crucial step in building a meaningful experience for its future members.

Organizational professionals working in expansion and extension seek to address many questions: 1) What are the students on campus really like? Do they want to join for the “right” reasons, or are they looking for another place to party? 2) How can we support them so they don’t make the same detrimental mistakes we see in some other chapters? 3) How could current fraternal culture disrupt the experience or point the chapter in the wrong direction, and how do we prevent a new group drifting back to the norm over time? To answer these questions, you have to think differently. You have to think differently to do differently. To create a meaningful experience you must think and do differently.

Recruitment Let’s fast forward to when a new group is being created— recruitment. Again, “tabling” will not cut it to fi nd the right caliber of students needed to achieve the vision. To succeed, the campus-based professional needs to be prepared to align the organization’s representatives with students on campus who want to make a difference. If you are a campus professional, these are key tasks you can do to help the organization recruit the right students: 1) Provide a list of unaffiliated students.

Collaboration From the Beginning

2) Allocate on campus space as necessary.

For a meaningful experience to truly be created for this new group, there has to be alignment to the organization’s core values. At the crux of every conversation with university professionals, alumni, and students, there has to be a theme, a tone, a rhythm that makes them align. All parties, from the organizational representatives to the campus professional, from the new advisor to the new member, must believe that they are present to make a difference on campus, in the local community, and among people around them.

3) Connect the organizational staff with key student leaders and other administrators who would assist in this process.

When this is espoused and enacted as the central tenant, it is easy for the campus and organizational professionals to engage students to get further involved because the purpose of the group is so simple. A true partnership goes far beyond helping the organization staff book tables in the student union or rooms for recruitment events. Doing recruitment the way it typically exists in a campus environment—through tabling, sign-ups, and large events—is unlikely to create a powerful, meaningful experience for students for years to come. You can’t just hope it goes well. Both the campus and the organization have to dig deeper and be more purposeful in its work. Fraternity/sorority life can be the most amazing development experience any student could go through. Campus professionals must help the organization connect with other parts of the university, those with the greatest student development experience available to students. They must involve other administrators who drive student learning and are involved with students. They should connect these caring people and places with the new fraternity/ sorority because they will help them fi nd men and women looking for the experience you are seeking to create.

4) Set a strict guideline or timeline by which bids must be extended. 5) Share key events and meetings of student groups on campus. If you are an organizational staff member, these are actions that can help the future development of your chapter: 1) Identify and train well-qualified advisors in advance. 2) Actively seek to engage campus professionals in your mission, from the university president to the fraternity/sorority advisor. 3) Try new marketing efforts and not just use the same old methods (such as relying too much on tabling), knowing they yield poor results. 4) Providing relationship-building training to your staff and volunteers so they can be effective in recruiting the right students. During the recruitment process, organizations shouldn’t ask if students are interested in joining a fraternity. There are better questions to fi nd out if the student would advance our mission and vision: 1) What are two of the most important decisions you have made in their life? 2) What they are doing currently to better themselves? 3) What are they doing to better the world around them, both on campus and in the community? continued... Winter 2012 / Perspectives


continued from page 21

4) How is their currently involvement on campus helping them personally and professionally? 5) When you walk across the stage and accept your diploma, what do you want to have learned and experienced? From the beginning, representatives need to talk about action— what actions students want to make in their life to better the world around them. These conversations set the tone, identify core values and help create the path for a meaningful experience. The campus professional can also help ensure this level of conversation happens within the recruitment process. As a part of the campus professional’s weekly check-in with departmental staff, he/she could take a look at the organization’s referral or “names list.” Identify a couple of students, and ask the staff to comment on what they have learned about some of the students the organization is considering offering membership. The staff member should be able to gather quickly if the core conversation is happening with these students. Better yet, the campus professional could contact a couple of the newly recruited students to learn directly if the meaningful conversations are happening and if the students are connecting with the vision of creating a better self and community. Chapter Development Let’s fast forward again. There is now a new group of students joined together in this organization. They are going through a process of getting to know one another and starting to do things together. All this great work has happened thus far, but we are far from fi nished in creating this meaningful student development experience. If you have great students who are capable of managing an organization, you might be thinking, “let them do good work.” That mentality is risky. Any chapter—new or established— needs a strategic plan of support from both the organization and the campus. Remember those other partners across campus, those other administrators who are also invested in student development? It is time to bring them back into the loop with your new student group. This conversation should not just center around a campus fivestar plan or set of organizational basic standards, etc. We need to expand the conversation with the students to include what they believe the campus needs. Have them set high expectations and the understanding that they can make a huge difference on campus and in the community. Allow for these conversations to happen interspersed with the plan created by the inter/national organization during the new chapter development. Both the campus and organizational professionals should remember they are not just starting a colony. They are starting the next great student organization to help lead your campus. The bar should not be any lower than that. If it is set lower than that, change it! Organizations provide a variety of continued support for new chapters and colonies after the conclusion of the recruitment process. Some of these are:


Perspectives / Winter 2012

1) A staff person living in town for a year or more; 2) A graduate student practicum experience with the new chapter; 3) A dedicated staff member to work with the key volunteers and students;

2011 afa annual meeting 2011 AFA Annual Meeting

4) Funding for students to attend national educational and regional events; and

The 2011 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, brought campus-based professionals,

5) Facilitating retreats on campus for the new chapter.

headquarters staff, and fraternal partners together for a week of learning,

Other best practices for continual development of a new chapter should also include: 1) Volunteer mentors/advisors have contact with officers at least every two weeks and attend chapter meetings and large events. 2) The key organizational contact should have a Skype call each week with the new officers and every two weeks with the volunteer team. 3) The campus professional should attend a chapter meeting or event several times throughout the semester and have conversations with the new officers every two weeks. The Search for Opportunities Remember, as much pride and ownership you have in your organization or fraternal community, neither entity can provide the support a new group needs alone. Your influence must reach beyond your office and email inbox. Chapter development must be a collaborative partnership. As individual entities, we work well, but as a team, we work wonders. Continue the teamwork during and beyond the fi rst semester. Make sure all parties are still engaged in creating the meaningful experience. Together, what learning opportunities can you continue to provide? What is on the horizon that you need to plan for? Find opportunities where these students can hear challenge and support from people they look up to around campus and within the national organization. This might mean the campus professional creating opportunities for interaction with people on campus that other fraternities/sororities do not receive or the organization providing far more onsite support than established chapters receive. Don’t look at this as playing favorites; you have something far greater in mind. You are helping create a student organization that can have a huge role in the future of the campus community and the organization. To create a meaningful experience, this group has to be nurtured. There must be lots of feeding on the front end when establishing a colony so it can grow to be a healthy, functioning chapter. – Paul Lawson is married, the father of three young boys, and the Assistant Executive Director of Delta Sigma Phi. Delta Sigma Phi is not in the business of starting chapters. Delta Sigma Phi is in the business of helping young men connect with others who want to make a difference in the world, connecting young men who want to change the campus, their community, and the world around them.

networking, and purposeful conversations regarding the fraternal movement.

Here are a few highlights of what attendees experienced at the 2011 Annual Meeting: Intentional learning, critical conversations, and educational opportunities were once again at the core of the Annual Meeting. The Educational Programs Committee was deliberate about providing innovative and engaging professional development opportunities for all Annual Meeting participants, including more than 100 educational program offerings. Annual Meeting Advance Programs included learning practical skills for facilitation, teaching men to align with their values, understanding hazing policies, and discussing best practices and addressing organizational problems on campuses. Educational program topics included campus-inter/national organization partnerships, assessment, gender identity development, recruitment, technology, and much more. To view educational program handouts from the more than 100 programs offered at the Annual Meeting, please visit the AFA website. This year’s Annual Meeting was kicked off by a panel of renowned scholars in the field of higher education and student affairs. Dr. Susan Komives, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, and Dr. Vasti Torres shared their perspectives on how fraternity/sorority life adds value to the college experience, and challenged attendees to reflect upon and take action where fraternity/sorority life currently does not add value. A special thank you goes to Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and Foundation for their donation to the AFA Foundation to sponsor this program. On Saturday morning, attendees received an inspired charge from Rick Bailey, of Richard Harrison Bailey/The Agency, to help propel our work forward in the upcoming year. As Rick said, “Relevancy should last longer than one week,” and we hope that attendees will continue to revisit this throughout the year as we continue our journey toward relevancy. This program would not have been possible without Delta Upsilon International Fraternity’s generous donation to the AFA Foundation. Graduate Training Track (GTT): Complementing the educational

experience of those graduate students seeking careers in advising fraternities and sororities, the GTT is an informative and interactive educational opportunity. We thank the 72 attendees for their participation, as well as Jennifer Jones-Hall, Ball State University, and Darren Pierre, University of Georgia, for volunteering their time and energy as facilitators for the track. We also recognize and thank Karyn Nishimura Sneath, Npower, for designing and delivering the GTT Capstone educational program on Saturday morning. The GTT is funded by a grant to the AFA Foundation from Rho Lambda National Honorary.

The First-Year Case Study Challenge, in its fourth year, continued to provide more graduate students the opportunity to participate in case study programming. In addition to the Challenge, the AFA/Order of Omega Case Study Competition had a strong slate of participants. Congratulations to all of the students—especially the winners—and a hearty thank you to the AFA members who volunteered through the Ambassador program to serve as judges for both case study events. Project Job Search afforded 46 attendees the opportunity to meet

with seasoned members of the Association to receive feedback on their résumés and participate in a mock interview process. Additionally, the Project Job Search educational program provided tips, suggestions, and best practices for those preparing to enter a search process. Over 330 fi rst-time attendees registered for the 2011 Annual Meeting. The AFA Connection Kick Off on Wednesday evening introduced fi rst-timers to the AFA Executive Board and AFA Foundation, provided an overview of the Annual Meeting, and allowed them to connect with other fi rst timers via the volunteer Connection Captains at their tables. First-timers also had opportunities to share meals together, whether through the Thursday evening off-site meal gatherings or reserved tables at the AFA/AFAF Recognition Luncheon and Closing Banquet. Additionally, fi rst-timers visited the Exhibit Hall together twice and gathered for Casual Conversation in the morning to answer questions and share what they learned at the Annual Meeting.

Service Opportunity The Annual Meeting offered two opportunities to give back to the St. Louis community. Attendees pre-registered to participate in the off-site service project on Wednesday afternoon at the St. Patrick Center. Providing services and support for the homeless and mentally ill, participants sorted and boxed donations for the upcoming holiday season. Many other attendees had the opportunity to dine at McMurphy’s Grill. Connected to the St. Patrick Center, this full-service lunch restaurant offers training and skills development for the homeless and mentally ill to work in the restaurant industry.

Fireside Chats On Thursday evening, almost 190 institutions participated in the Fireside Chats Meet and Greet. With campus representatives stationed at tables, inter/national organization attendees were welcome to mix and mingle in unstructured conversation time. Winter 2012 / Perspectives


On Friday afternoon, a record-breaking 1,386 Fireside Chats were conducted. More than 220 tables were staffed by over 90 inter/national organizations, allowing nine chats per table during the three-hour period. Once again, this opportunity allowed for productive and meaningful conversations regarding our undergraduate chapters and colonies.

of South Carolina; Jonathan James, Marshall University; Steve Jenks, University of Tennessee–Knoxville; Kristin Lang, University of Vermont; Lauren Misiewicz, University of Kansas; Matthew Nance, Eastern Illinois University; and Kendall Sater, Northern Illinois University; for the early morning meetings, ability to adapt to changing needs, and overall positive attitudes. This team of 10 outstanding graduate students is sure to make a positive impact on our profession and within the Association.

The Exhibit Hall had another great year, with more than 40 Associate members and interfraternal partners exhibiting. Returning to the Exhibit Hall, the Programming Preview allowed Annual Meeting attendees the opportunity for five professional speakers/workshops to give short snapshots of their programs. Professional speakers Dr. Robyn Silverman, Steve Whitby, and Shane Windmeyer shared their talents, while Chris Blackburn and Eddie Banks-Crosson facilitated highlights from two workshops, PersonalPower: A RESPONSE ABILITY Workshop and Elephants & Onions.

The success of the 2011 Annual Meeting would not have been possible without the dedication and efforts of many Association volunteers —those who served year-round in coordinator/chair or committee member roles, educational program and graduate staff application reviewers, educational program presenters, and those who provided extra support on site as Ambassadors. Thank you to everyone who shared time, talents, and energy in the planning and implementation of this year’s Annual Meeting.

This year’s Graduate Staff members truly enhanced the Annual Meeting through their commitment and dedication to our attendees. Specials thanks to Julie Bryant, University of Georgia; Stephen Dominy, Florida State University; Micki Estuesta, University of Southern California; Lindsey Hammond, University

The 2012 Annual Meeting, in Indianapolis, Indiana, will take place Wednesday, November 29, through Sunday, December 3, and promises to engage attendees in a meaningful manner as the Association continues to make progress on the 2011-2013 Strategic Plan.

Fireside Chats Meet and Greet 2012 AFA President Shelly Brown Dobek

2011 AFA President Monica Miranda Smalls wand Shelley Sutherland

Exhibit Hall

Silent Auction

Welcome Reception

Awards Banquet

Business Meeting


Perspectives / Winter 2012

Pictures are courtesy of GreekYearbook. All photos from the 2011 Annual Meeting can be viewed and purchased from GreekYearbook.com.

2012 Executive Board 2011 Annual Meeting Planning Team and Graduate Staff

Winter 2012 / Perspectives


BOOK REVIEW: 2011 afa award recipients BOOK REVIEW:



John diSarro “Using Restorative Circles to Resolve a Fraternal Crisis”

Elephants & Onions

PERSPECTIVES AWARD Michael A. McRee “The House is on Fire and You’re Mowing the Lawn” Marcy Levy Shankman, Ph.d., & Scott J. Allen, Ph.d. “Gender and Emotionally Intelligent Leadership” •

ORACLE: THE RESEARCH JOURNAL OF THE ASSOCIATION OF FRATERNITY/SORORITY ADVISORS AWARD Genevieve Evans Taylor “An Analysis of Leadership Programming Sponsored by Member Organizations of the National Panhellenic Conference” •

Purdue University •


GAYLE WEBB NEW PROFESSIONAL AWARD Annie Carlson University of Oregon •




EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING AWARD Pi Beta Phi Leading with Values Purdue University “Perfect Party”

Bonnie Wunsch Alpha Epsilon Phi Carolyn E. Whittier, Ph.d. Virginia Commonwealth University Angela Guillory Louisiana State University dan Wrona RISE Partnerships •



Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations By Stacy Kraus


regularly work with chapter leaders struggling to find methods for getting all of their members involved. They talk about how people do not come to events, do not help in the planning, and do not take an active role in the future of the organization. If you have worked in student affairs for more than a second, you have probably heard this before as well. Now I have a book to point to in helping students seek answers to these questions. T.J. Sullivan’s book Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations (2011) addresses the middle group in every organization. The top third are active members. The bottom third will never be active. But the middle can be motivated to take a more active role in growing the group. Sullivan describes a middle member as one who “likely does not feel capable of putting in the same energy, enthusiasm, or time that a top-third member does. A supporting role is a safer place” (p. 17). They are “jugglers” (p. 15), balancing multiple commitments to school, family, jobs, and other groups. So, how to motivate those jugglers? Sullivan professes a ‘think differently’ approach. The middle third cannot be motivated with the same incentives that entice a top third member. He offers a series of 13 ideas that help members embrace their value to the organization, respect their time and boundaries, and minimize the stress they might feel from organizational discord. Sullivan also addresses the “Middle-Member Strategy” (p. 33) to getting things accomplished. He suggests “romancing the middle” (p. 33) to create buy-in to change. All of this is shared in a readable, concrete manner; enabling student leaders to apply the book’s ideas to organizational practice without having to grossly overhaul operations.

are relatable, but also the conclusion offers exercises to help leaders identify and target the middle third of their organization more effectively. This year, as the major officer transition takes place on my campus, I know of at least one chapter’s executive board that I will encourage to walk through the exercises to develop a game plan for motivating the middle third of their organization. I have already started circulating a copy of the book among the members of the sorority advisory board on which I serve, with the goal being to shift our advisory concerns to advancing the involvement of the middle. I believe this book can reframe some of the chapter’s challenges for the advisory board members, helping us to better serve the leaders in creating a culture of involvement and dedication. Afterward, that copy will be added to the chapter’s library so that, as we tackle the motivation problem in the future, I can point leaders to a resource that will help them reframe the problem effectively. I definitely see this book as beneficial for any organizational advisor. Regardless of type, every group struggles with keeping people involved and enriched. Sullivan’s practical and easy-tounderstand advice offers guidance and expertise without being too heady or lengthy, making it a simple resource for that busy top third student. – Stacy Kraus is the Associate Director,s Office of Student Affairs/Fraternity and Sorority Life University of Pennsylvania REFERENCES

Sullivan, T. J. (2011). Motivating the middle: Fighting apathy in college student organizations. Tucson, AZ: Wheatmark.

One of the things I appreciate is that Sullivan also addresses how the top third should act toward the bottom third. Too often these are the members that student leaders come to talk about with me. They question how to get bottom third members to attend events, what could inspire them, and how they can ensure accountability for the organization’s objectives. Sullivan encourages the top third to think about “Good Enough Member” (p. 46) standards that should be applicable for all members. These standards should be kept to a bare minimum and require that you hold everyone accountable to them. Not everyone is going to be as involved as the top third members. Helping leaders see that involvement and participation can vary moves an organization further than any mandatory event or point system could. Motivating the Middle offers practical application for student leaders. Not only are the chapters written with examples that


Perspectives / Winter 2012

Winter 2012 / Perspectives


Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors www.afa1976.org 9640 N. Augusta Drive, Suite 433 Carmel, IN 46032

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Perspectives Winter 2012  

Perspectives provides a forum for research, innovative ideas, and information related to the advisement of fraternal organizations. It promo...

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Perspectives provides a forum for research, innovative ideas, and information related to the advisement of fraternal organizations. It promo...

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