S P R I N G 2 012
www.afa1976.org | @AFA1976
A publication for members of the association of fraternity/SORORITY ADVISORS.
Fraternities & Sororities in this issue: Research in Brief | Fraternity and Sorority Advising: Can Coaching and Technology Help? |
How Do We Align the Fraternity/Sorority Experience with the Changing Dynamics and Enduring Principles of Higher Education?
Shelly Brown Dobek – 2012 President
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 513.523.7597 Direct: 203.798.8777 Fax: 513.523.1921
Send address corrections to AFA: Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors PO Box 1369 Fort Collins, CO 80522 317.876.1632 | Fax 317.876.3981 email@example.com www.afa1976.org
Perspectives is published four times per year.
Submission deadlines: Summer 2012 May 1, 2012 Fall 2012 August 1, 2012 Winter 2013 November 1, 2012 Spring 2013 February 1, 2013
Board 2012 Editorial
Jason Bergeron, University of Houston Amanda Bureau, Zeta Tau Alpha
hen I found out this issue of Perspectives was going to explore advising from a coaching model, I thought it would be appropriate to draw inspiration from two of North Carolina State University’s most beloved athletic coaches: Kay Yow and Jimmy Valvano. Their history is quite accomplished: Coach Yow being a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame with more than 700 career wins and an Olympic gold medalist in women’s basketball in 1988; and Jimmy V with the “Cinderella story” win of the NCAA tournament in 1983 and the inspirational acceptance speech for the ESPY Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award in 1993. Maybe it is because we lost them both tragically to cancer that their words are seared into our hearts and minds. But their words have created inspiration far beyond the NC State and athletic communities. “When life kicks you, let it kick you forward.” — Kay Yow When I was sworn in as president of this Association, I was a bit nervous. To say that I was stepping in at a challenging time is an understatement. After 100 percent staff turnover, a new website that lacked content and functionality, and a major investment in a database that utterly tanked, many members were fearful for the future of AFA. But with these challenges came opportunity. The Executive Board was freed from existing constraints to reimagine a better future. Since our inception, AFA has functioned as a volunteer-driven organization, growing over time with limited staff support. We have always seemed to have dreams that far exceeded our capacity. Our new Strategic Plan was further evidence of that. If we were to move the Association forward, we had to do it differently. "How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal, and you have to be willing to work for it." — Jimmy V In my acceptance remarks, I challenged our membership to see this time of AFA’s history as more than a transition period—rather, to see this as a period of transformation. In just a short time, remarkable work has been done to position AFA for just that. Step 1 of that transformation was our investment in developing
an association management company, Synergos, in partnership with the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values. From that effort, Synergos has emerged to better serve both organizations and elevate the fraternal industry. I am confident that as we move our Central Office operations to the new staff, we will begin to see the benefits of efficiencies and expertise that this model affords us. Not just in the work of the staff but also in the support of our volunteers. Your member experience may not be transformed overnight, but the increased capacity for work is sure to pay dividends soon after we work through some of the kinks that naturally occur with the transition of work to a new staff. Despite the figurative “kick” AFA received over the course of the last year, we have achieved much due to the diligent work of our faithful volunteers and interim staff. The 2012 Annual Meeting was our largest attended conference experience to date. January saw the launch of our much anticipated Advance U: Thinking Differently Working Differently. The thought-provoking and timely programs have impacted hundreds of member participants so far and received acclaim. Several key pieces of our strategic plan have been completed, including the review of membership categories and subsequent bylaws change that will go into effect for the upcoming membership renewal process. Further steps of transformation are underway, including an Association communications strategy, a curriculum development plan, and an upcoming launch of a professional development continuum that will greatly enhance the value of your membership. “No matter what business you’re in, you can’t run in place or someone will pass you by. It doesn’t matter how many games you’ve won.” — Jimmy V Change is never easy, but running in place is simply not an option if we are to advance the work of the Association. As we move forward through this time of transition, it is still with the intention of arriving at a place of transformation, where AFA is poised to enhance your professional development and deliver quality programs and resources in an effort to align the fraternal industry with the enduring principles of higher education. I still believe we can and will do better for our members. A sincere thank you to all who have cheered us on from the sidelines.
Lindsay Sell, Colorado State University Kirsten Siron Fryer, University of Chicago Nathan Thomas, Bradley University
easy, but running in place is simply not an option if we are to advance the work of the Association. As we move forward through this time of transition, it is still with the intention of arriving at a place of transformation...”
“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” — Jimmy V
issue 6 Research in Brief 14
F. raternity and Sorority Advising: Can Coaching and Technology Help?
How Do We Align the Fraternity/Sorority Experience with the Changing Dynamics and Enduring Principles of Higher Education?
Heather Matthews Kirk, Zeta Tau Alpha Sarah McCracken, Delta Zeta
“Change is never
regular columns From the Top............................ 2 Editor’s Notes........................... 4 From Where We Sit.................11
Teniell Trolian, University of Iowa
Perspectives / Spring 2012
Spring 2012 / Perspectives
Allison St. Germain
he other day I caught myself in a conversation saying that I couldn’t believe that I had been a sorority professional for 13+ years. It isn’t that I think this is such a long time, but I really feel like I’m still new to the job. As I look around at colleagues, anything over 10 starts to earn you the reputation of being seasoned. There are some commonly discussed reasons for fraternity/sorority professionals not having a very long shelf life, such as considering fraternity/ sorority advising an entry level student affairs position, or the long hours and stress just burn people out: I’ve heard almost all of them. And then I start to think about the many people I know who stay committed to the fraternal movement whether or not their full-time position is in fraternity/sorority advising. If the fraternal movement is really a way of life, it goes far beyond your job title on the campus or in the organization you work for. The idea that my advocating for the fraternal
movement could end because I left my professional job in the fraternity/sorority field is foreign to me. In fact I did leave—for about a year and a half—but though my paycheck no longer came for my work in fraternity/sorority advising, I continued my involvement as in the fraternal movement, first as a fraternity chapter advisor and then as an alumnae chapter officer. I never stopped being an advisor to collegiate members or other alumnae sisters. I’m sure many of you have a hard time turning off the advisor in you as well.
Dream Living the
What does being an advisor mean to you? Are you a paid staff member? Do you split your time between a variety of different responsibilities? Have you left full time fraternity/sorority advising but continue to volunteer your time as an advisor? Are there different ways to be an advisor to students and the fraternal community? We want to look at advising and challenge you to take a look at your situation. Why do you continue to do the work of advancing the fraternal community? Take a moment and tweet me your thoughts @ALStGermain with the hashtag #AFAPerspectives. I promise to reply and want to hear why you are an advisor.
Give your students something to brag about….
Start a Gamma Sigma Alpha chapter today!
of Our Founders
RICKBARNES KEYNOTES THAT LEAD FRATERNITY & SORORITY COMMUNITIES TO GREATNESS.
Gamma Sigma Alpha is the premier academic honorary for Greek students. If you are looking for opportunities to advance academic achievement within your fraternity/sorority community, contact us today!
Gamma Sigma Alpha National Greek Academic Honor Society
Rick is a great speaker. I really enjoyed that he covered so many aspects of Greek Life in just one hour. He touched on hazing, alcohol, risk management, ritual and stereotypes which I thought was great. The students appreciated his honesty and humor while touching on serious topics. They could tell he was on their side, but was able to be realistic.” Susanna Bartlett
Coordinator of Programs for Greek Life Boston University
www.gammasigmaalpha.org – firstname.lastname@example.org - 317-876-4695
Perspectives / Spring 2012
Fraternities and sororities have existed on American college campuses for more than two centuries, shaping the experiences of millions of men and women. Today, there is fiery debate between advocates of the fraternity/sorority experience and those who feel it’s become more harmful than beneficial. Truth is, when we live up to the dreams of our founding fathers and mothers, our communities provide one of the best leadership and values-building experiences available to a young man or woman today. But, it takes a deliberate commitment to building diverse and relevant fraternities and sororities that work together, add to the campus and fulfill their stated missions. In his keynote Living The Dream of Our Founders, RICK BARNES addresses all the various groups that make up our rich community, challenging everyone to collaborate toward higher performance and standards for everyone who wears letters. Let’s get serious about living the dream of fraternity and sorority, let’s have some fun doing it and let’s move the conversation back to what’s good about fraternity and sorority. This keynote is perfect for Fraternity and Sorority Life programming, “Greek Week” leadership events and risk management workshops.
For more information about Rick and his keynotes for Fraternity and Sorority Life, contact CAMPUSPEAK at (303) 745-5545 or e-mail us at email@example.com. See a promotional video of Rick’s keynotes at www.campuspeak.com/barnes.
RESEARCH IN BRIEF By Teniell L. Trolian, Nathan P. Thomas, and Sarah McCracken
In cooperation with this issue’s theme of advising, the Perspectives Editorial Board has compiled a summary
• Value: The self-belief that service is important
of current research related to advising students and student organizations. Citations are included to encourage
• Understanding: The motivation to develop and practice new skills
additional reading and review of the literature on this important topic.
Ahren, C., Ryan, H., & Niskodé-Dossett, A. S. (2009, March/ April). Making the familiar strange: How a culture audit can boost your advising impact. About Campus, 25-32. Ahren, Ryan, and Niskodé-Dossett’s (2009) article provides a step-by-step method for conducting a culture audit, “an organized discovery process” (p. 25) that aids a practitioner in understanding what motivates a group’s behavior. Through better understanding of an organization’s culture, an advisor can help the group stay more “connected with its true mission” (p. 25)—a key to advising values-based organizations. The authors walk through an 11-step process that helps advisors identify elements of organizational culture, including articles, values (espoused and enacted), and basic assumptions. They provide a “culture audit worksheet” (p. 27) that streamlines the process and helps develop an action plan and framework for the audit. They bring the procedure to life by offering examples from an actual audit they conducted. To prepare, the advisor is first asked to reflect on the organization’s purpose, his/her role in the organization, and goal of the audit. Next, the advisor identifies the scope of the assessment—will he/she look at the organization as a whole or a more narrow focus such as one aspect of the organization? The advisor outlines how the culture can be assessed and the time frame for conducting observations. Assessment should be manageable, adjusting current practices in a purposeful way. A culture audit is not meant to be a burden added to a practitioner’s duties. It could consist of meetings he/she already attends, one-onone student advising sessions, and document review. The authors provide suggestions for a practical analysis: “Sources of cultural data are all around you; assessing their significance is just a matter of seeing them in a new light” (p. 29). The next steps include recording observations, including how the three levels of culture—artifacts, values, and basic assumptions— are manifested and influence the organization. The advisor then talks with involved students about their perceptions of the culture, comparing their impressions with his/her own. Finally, the advisor draws conclusions to create recommendations and action steps for himself/herself or the group. With new, well-
Perspectives / Spring 2012
rounded knowledge of organizational culture, an advisor can have meaningful conversations with student leaders about the group’s purpose and focus on values congruence. The advisor can use “elements of [the organization’s] culture to boost their advising impact” (p. 26). The assessment can improve the students’ learning experience as well as the advisor’s skill. Fraternity/sorority professionals would benefit from conducting a culture audit of specific councils or chapters, or to hone in on a specific element of the membership experience or a concern. The authors provide guidance on how to conduct such an audit in a practical manner, working smarter, not harder. The defined culture audit framework and worksheet are usable resources that remove barriers typically tied to assessment.
Meyer, R. A., & Kroth, M. (2010). Student organization advisor motives to volunteer at four-year institutions of higher education. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 47(4), 405–425. Meyer and Kroth (2010) present a study of student organization advisors’ motives for advising student groups. According to the authors, “Motivation is a broad concept used to describe the forces that cause people to act in a specific way at a particular time … understanding what motivates an individual to volunteer is critical to volunteer recruitment” (p. 406). The authors also note that: “Student organizations have a long history with higher education institutions, evolving from their secret origins to current formal recognition processes. The research clearly indicates that the success of recognized student clubs is linked to the efforts made by advisors. Despite insights from past research, few studies on college organization advising detail the motivation or reasons why these people choose to volunteer” (p. 408). To understand the motivation of faculty and staff student organization advisors, the authors administered the Volunteer Functions Inventory (Clary and Snyder, 1991) to nearly 200 advisors from six institutions in the northwest United States. The Volunteer Functions Inventory includes 30 items that measure six functions of volunteer motivation: Value, Understanding, Career, Social, Protective, and Enhancement. These six functions are defined by the authors as (p. 409):
• Social: The motivation to meet new friends, be recognized, or join groups that are important to the volunteer • Career: The motivation to help further one’s job or profession
students, meet others with similar interests, and support worthy causes” (p. 420). Additionally, the authors shared that: “Student organization advisors are rarely commended for their service by college administrators, after [five] years of advisor service, we found a decrease in service as a student organization advisor. … This highlights the importance of recognition activities to support and encourage advisors to continue in this role” (p. 420).
• Protective: The motivation to manage inner anxieties and conflicts or avoid guilt
• Enhancement: The need to promote positive feelings within oneself
Clary, E. G., & Snyder, M. (1991). A functional analysis of altruism and prosocial behavior: The case of volunteerism. In M. Clark (Ed.), Prosocial Behavior (pp. 119–148). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Participants responding to the survey included 101 male and 97 female advisors; 47 percent of whom hold a doctoral degree and 37.4 percent of whom hold a master’s degree. Participants’ number of years advising ranged from one to 35 years, with a mean of 6.96 years of advising, and 59.1 percent of the advisors reported that they were faculty members and 40.9 percent reported that they were staff members. Results of the study found that “social function is a motivator for all student organization advisors” (p. 418), indicating, “Student organization members should be encouraged by administrators to invite advisors to participate in activities beyond the club meetings” (p. 418). The study also “confirmed that career, social, and value motives were important to academic club advisors” (p. 418). Further, the study found that, “Student organization advisors aged 34 and younger were split between identifying both high importance and low importance for the career function,
Ozaki, C. C., & Johnston, M. (2008). The space between: Issues for multiracial student organizations and advising. New Directions for Student Services, 123, 53-59. “The Space Between: Issues for Multiracial Student Organizations and Advising” (2008) provides a brief overview of issues facing multiracial student organizations and offers tips for the work of advisors. Organizations for students of color began to rise to prominence during the Civil Rights Movement and have since become permanent fixtures on many college campuses, eventually including organizations for students who identify as multiracial. Students have identified social, political and psychological reasons for choosing to participate in multiracial student organizations. Renn (2000, as cited in Ozaki & Johnston, 2008) identified three
"The research clearly indicates that the success of recognized student clubs is linked to the efforts made by advisors." which included the motivation to further one’s job or profession” (p. 418) and that, “Student organization advisors from the age category 45 to 54 identified with the protective function” (p. 419), indicating that an advisor’s age may play a role in determining their motivation to serve as a student organization advisor.
factors that must be present for multiracial student organization existence on a campus: “(1) There must be a critical mass of students interested in and seeing the need for such a group, (2) Students need to identify the need for a space to express and explore their multiracial identity, and (3) They must feel that they do not belong to the monoracial groups on campus” (p. 54).
Based on their findings, Meyer and Kroth (2010) suggested several implications of their research, including implications for recruitment and recognition of advisors. The authors noted: “For a general recruitment campaign for all student group advisors, our research suggests a strategy that promotes social and value motives. … By using the social and value motives, promotion themes should stress opportunities to work with
Ozaki and Johnston (2008) outline several challenges that exist for multiracial student organizations. First, conflicts may exist due to differences in the stated identities of student organization leaders and members. “If the leader of the group has a certain identity and perspective on multiraciality, that person can run the risk of alienating others who do not share the same common continued...
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continued from page 7
set of beliefs about race” (p. 56). Second, issues may develop between multiracial student organizations and monoracial student of color organizations due to a real or perceived lack of available resources. Additionally, mixed-race students within multiracial organizations “often cite feelings of not being ‘[insert racial term here] enough’ for the monoracial groups” (Renn, 2000, as cited in Ozaki & Johnston, 2008). Finally, Ozaki and Johnston identify the high turnover rate of student leaders within multiracial student organizations as a common challenge. While this issue is not limited to multiracial student organizations, it appears to be intensified and often results in a lack of strategic planning. To best support multiracial students and organizations, Ozaki and Johnston (2008) offer the following suggestions (p. 58-60): 1. Assist students in focusing on the vision and goals for the organization. 2. Advocate for multiracial issues and not just the student organizations. 3. Help students navigate potential racial politics on campus. 4. Assess your own racial identity and personal biases about multiracial identity. 5. Understand how your identity may be perceived by students. 6. Create opportunities for dialogue between leaders of multiracial and monoracial student organizations. 7. Help students to understand the differences among race, ethnicity, and culture. 8. Be aware of resources on the mixed-race experience so you can better inform students. 9. Keep in mind the potential and important impact you can have on the development and sustainability of organizations and their individual members. 10. Be open to change. Additional Sources: Association of Fraternity Advisors. (2008). NPHC Membership Intake Guide. Retrieved from http://www.afa1976.org/Portals/0/Membership_Intake_ Guide_NPHC.pdf
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Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors. (2009). NALFO resource guide. Retrieved from http://www.afa1976.org/Portals/0/Publications/NALFO_ Guide_FINAL.pdf Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors. (2009). NAPA resource guide. Retrieved from http://www.afa1976.org/Portals/0/Publications/NAPA_Guide_FINAL.pdf.
Strayhorn, T. L., & McCall, F. C. (2011, February). Cultural competency of black Greek-letter organization advisors. Journal of African American Studies, (24), 1-16. Strayhorn and McCall (2011), in the Journal of African American Studies, write about their research conducted on the perceived cultural competency of black Greek-letter organization (BGLO) advisors. This quantitative study solicited 71 BGLO advisors through the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA) online community and defined cultural competency as: “The capacity to work effectively within the cultural context of an individual, family, or community whose background differs from one’s own” (p. 4). With the emphasis on cultural competency from AFA and the Council for the Advancement of Standards’ guidelines, it becomes important for fraternity and sorority advisors to understand the many experiences that impact their students. The need for such competency comes from particularly knowing, as noted by Strayhorn and McCall (2011), “BGLOs’ very existence and the meanings individuals attach to their experiences within these organizations are embedded in an intricately woven web of cultural believes that represent a shared ‘tradition’” (p. 2). The article utilizes Campinha-Bacote’s (1999) work in health care cultural competencies to frame five components for the study in relation to BGLO advisors: cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural skill, cultural encounters, and cultural desire. In examining these specific core areas, they found significant differences in: • Cultural Awareness: Part-time employed BGLO advisors reported higher scores of cultural awareness than full-time advisors (90 percent of responders were full-time); those with master’s degree or higher (85 percent of responders) education levels reported higher cultural awareness.
• Cultural Skills: Advisors of color reported lower scores of cultural skills compared to white advisors; additionally those advisors who worked mostly with sororities reported higher scores than those who mostly worked with fraternities and those who worked with both equally. • Cultural Encounters: Advisors of color reported lower scores of cultural encounters compared to white advisors. • Cultural Desire: Men (51 percent of responders) neared statistical significance, when compared to women, in cultural desire. Overall, Strayhorn and McCall (2011) found that race is a strong predictor of perceived cultural competency, while education enhances cultural competency. Factors such as gender, age, and institutional type are not predictors of perceived cultural competency. Specifically, in addressing the findings on race as a predictor in cultural competency, the authors explained these may be factors of advisors overrating or underrating their skills, advisors comparing themselves to those around them as a basis of judgment. Additionally, it is possible that white advisors working with BGLOs enhanced their own cultural competency by working with organizations of predominantly different race, or the relatively low number of non-white advisor respondents may have affected the study. Implications for fraternity and sorority advisors are shown in the continual effect education can have on cultural competency (e.g., requiring graduate degrees to serve in advising capacities). Ongoing education of advisors, such as cultural immersion programs, professional development programs provided through different learning formats from AFA or other professional associations, and reflective experiential activities will further enhance the cultural competencies of advisors (Strayhorn & McCall, 2011). Perhaps most importantly, at least in the students’ development of cultural competency, is the recommendation: “Advisors should make a deliberate effort to spend time with students and learn about their experiences while sharing their own” (p. 13). Additional Sources: Campinha-Bacote, J. (1999). A model and instrument for addressing culture competence in health care. The Journal of Nursing Education, 38, 203-207.
• Cultural Knowledge: Advisors of color (30 percent of responders) reported lower scores of cultural knowledge compared to white advisors.
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5 Things We Know Now That We Are 20 Celebrating 20 years of serving the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors Social media has been overwhelmed lately with reflective pieces from people who have achieved a milestone birthday and have identified some life lessons for their years of experience. This year, as the AFA Foundation turns 20, there are some life lessons for each of us to consider. The AFA Foundation exists to better your experience as members; take advantage of the legacy we’ve built together over 20 years.
1 2 3 4 5
1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES. Inboxes are flooded with opportunities to learn and grow. The AFA Foundation provides scholarships and sponsorships to attend several remarkable programs. AdvanceU, sponsored by a gift from Zeta Tau Alpha, provides a free opportunity for professionals to learn more about how to best serve our population. Make time to serve as a facilitator, sign up for that webinar, attend IFI—the opportunities are all around us.
2. INVESTING IN THE FUTURE IS ESSENTIAL. How are you investing? Are you donating your time, talent or treasure to the future of our profession? Giving money to the AFA Foundation is not the only way to be involved. Consider volunteering with the Silent Auction at the Annual Meeting, coordinating a special project, or serving on the Board.
The investment we make now builds into us—and into those who will come after us. The Foundation sponsors research grants for those who are providing assessment and academic proof to the work that we do. Moving our profession forward and focusing beyond the “here and now” is critical.
3. CARE LESS ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK, STRETCH YOURSELF TO CONNECT. The fraternal movement is built on relationships. Our commodity, for lack of a better word, is brotherhood and sisterhood—an opportunity to learn, grow and be more collectively than we ever could on our own. So, why do we work in isolation? Challenge yourself to connect. Don’t worry that someone will judge you—push yourself to be the first to extend. All professionals have something they need from others. Pick up the phone and call a professional on a nearby campus; ask a colleague to serve as your mentor and connect with them via Skype. The work we do as a Foundation is dependent upon you, our members.
4. THE ANNUAL MEETING CAN BE LIFE-GIVING. The Annual Meeting can be an overwhelming and, sometimes, intimidating space. It can also be the most renewing experience of your year. For many professionals, we are never in a space where we don’t have to explain and justify why we do our work. Take advantage of all this opportunity has to offer. The Foundation sponsors keynote speakers and educational resources for your benefit. Seek out new friends, find the author of an article you appreciated, creep around to find the #1 Twitter user among us.
5. IF YOU GIVE A LITTLE ALL OF THE TIME, IT BECOMES A HABIT. Really. $10 a month is a $120 donation for the year. Giving is a habit. One that is difficult to cultivate, but easy to continue once it has begun. Consider enrolling for an automatic monthly gift to support the AFA Foundation. Your dollars matter. The AFA Foundation could not do the work that we do without your financial support. In the May Association Update there was information about our new relationship with OmegaFi. Take a moment right now to commit to a monthly gift to further our work as a profession.
Scan the QR Code at the right or visit the AFA Foundation website to make your annual gift, prepurchase Because You Believe stickers or make a tribute gift to celebrate the accomplishments of friends and the influence of colleagues. Thank you for your continued support … here’s to the next twenty years!
From Where Sit From WhereWe We Sit From Where We 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and you could see your ideas in a future issue of Perspectives.
A campus professional has a one-on-one with a council officer. An organization consultant sits down to dinner with a chapter secretary. A graduate assistant advises one of the community’s newest members. A dean encourages a rising chapter leader. A headquarters staff member takes a call from a chapter president. In each situation, the student brings his or her own developmental story, background, concerns, and more to the table. Each student has varying needs and requires unique challenge and support from his or her advisor. Conversely, each advisor in the field has a unique perspective, focus, and philosophy. We approach student and organizational development in different ways based on our experience, world view, mentors, and other factors. Taking the chance to learn from each other, we share perspectives on student advising from 10 fraternity/sorority professionals, advisors, and students. continued... Spring 2012 / Perspectives
continued from page 21
Brandon Tsubaki Brandon Tsubaki
Coordinator, Center for Student Leadership, University of California, Berkeley
Two years working with fraternities and sororities
As advisors we often, in some form, ask undergraduate members if they’re living their rituals. Recently I’ve been asking myself the same question: Am I living my ritual? As an advisor and volunteer, I, too, am challenged daily about living a life reflective of my oath of obligation. As a campus-based professional, members often look to me to define lifelong membership. More important than what I advise students to do, is what they see me do each day. I challenge myself to do the very things I tell members to do: practice my ritual regularly, confront injustices when I see them, give freely of my time and talents to others, and lead change even in difficult times. Each day I reflect and ask, “Today, did I live a life that honored my fraternity?”
Tracy Machtan Tracy Machtan
Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, Indiana State University Four years working with fraternities and sororities
“You can’t be a coach without knowing anything about the game.” I heard this from Mary Kate Lobaugh of Sigma Sigma Sigma during a session at the 2012 Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values (AFLV) Central Fraternal Leadership Conference. This statement struck a chord with me. It has much to do with my advising philosophy. In my first year as a professional at Indiana State University, I worked mainly with sorority women. As a member of Alpha Phi, this was within my comfort zone. However, in my second year, I had the chance to advise fraternities as well. When I realized that I would be working with men’s organizations, I knew I had to do my research. I had to learn how to be a good “coach.” It was important for me to be relatable as an advisor. I read every organization’s journal, website, Facebook page—you name it. To some extent, this improved my ability to connect with the men I advised. As I approached the end of my second year as a new professional, I realized the “game” has nothing to do with the differences between men’s organizations and women’s organizations, but rather what we all have in common. Our purpose and values connect us all and inspire us to become the best version of ourselves. Fraternity happens when a group of individuals come together and dedicate themselves to forever changing their lives and their world for the better.
interest in getting better, my efforts are minimal. If a chapter wants to improve or develop ways to sustain excellence, I will meet their level of effort. Inevitably, this weeds out groups who are not ready to make substantial change. I also spend the majority of my time working with our highperforming chapters and encouraging them to strive toward excellence. By providing them with extra time and attention, a greater expectation is placed on them to achieve excellence. This is contrary to what many advisors do, which is tackle the problems or act as a “firefighter.” I believe in managing the underperforming groups and praising the high-performing groups. When it comes to managing underperforming groups, I use the concepts of medical triage to assess the overall chapter, ensure basic safety, and refer to regional or inter/national staff for additional attention as needed.
Scott A. Smith Scott A. Smith
Director of Leadership Development, Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc. Seven years working with fraternities and sororities
I view advising students as a facilitative process. My role is to identify and meet students and organizations in their current context and lead them through a process to identify and arrive at a new and better place. The key for me is challenging fraternity men and sorority women to become dissatisfied with their current reality and to think of what is possible—envisioning a better version of themselves, their chapters, or their councils—and supporting them in the transition to achieving a new reality. Ensuring students are equipped with the fundamentals is essential to my advising style. Progress, development, and the creation of a new reality require the knowledge, skills, and abilities to cope with current circumstances and push forward. I support the students I work with by helping them identify and narrow down their options and championing their change efforts.
Zach Thomas Zach Thomas
Associate Director of Greek Life and Leadership Programs, Queens University of Charlotte Eight years working with fraternities and sororities
My philosophy on advising students is to challenge them to be change agents. I encourage them to not settle for anything less than the best, while helping them realize we all have potential to do great things. I remind students that the “but we’ve always done it that way” mantra is a slogan of the past. As an advisor, I challenge students to think of new and creative ways of completing tasks. Finally, fraternity/sorority advisors have to challenge students to understand that their actions as individuals affect more than their own lives—they affect their organizations and the greater fraternal community.
Annie Carlson Michelle Guobadia Annie Carlson
Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, University of Oregon Five years working with fraternities and sororities
As the only advisor to 30 fraternities and sororities, I’ve developed some interesting techniques to provide as much support to the fraternity/sorority community at my institution as possible. First, I use the concept of “equal effort” with chapters. The amount of effort chapters put into developing themselves is the amount of effort I will put in to working with them. So if a chapter has little 12
Perspectives / Spring 2012
Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, University of North Carolina - Charlotte
Nine years working with fraternities and sororities
I realize that not every student is going to have a life-altering, amazing, and transformative fraternity/sorority experience like I did as an undergraduate student. However, I know that I can try to make their experience one that is meaningful and significant
for them. To that end, every challenge, issue, and event is an opportunity for discussion. I make room and time for students to come into my office and have very real and no-holds-barred conversations. Some last for hours and some just a couple of minutes, but, in that time, we are going to dig deep. Students often leave my office with more questions than answers, and that’s how we know we are doing our jobs. I want to inspire students to not only think critically, but to also know that I don’t have all the solutions and the best answers lie within them, firmly tucked between their heart and their ritual. I think the more we can engage our students through advisement, the more equipped they will be to stand on their own and make the tough decisions when we are not around.
Emily Perlow Emily Perlow
Director of Student Activities, Worcester Polytechnic Institute 10 years working with fraternities and sororities
How do you know when you’re doing advising “right?” For every student, the “right” style is a little bit different, and this requires a good advisor to adapt quickly and adeptly. I often draw upon metaphors and examples that help the student understand that I share their worldview. With the varsity athlete, I use sports metaphors to explain concepts. With the science major, I use physics examples. I think one important key to strong advising is to be able to “code shift” or to speak in the codes that a particular student understands. Regardless of the way I communicate, I view my role in advising as that of an idea and question catalyst. I can’t think of a larger compliment than overhearing a student playfully imitate me by saying, “I don’t know; what do you think you should do?” My goal is to empower students to realize that the answers to their questions lie within themselves. As one student once said to me: “Every time I meet with you, I come out of your office with more questions than when I came into your office, but I feel like I know where to go to answer them.” I hope they do. That is when I know I am being a truly effective advisor.
Angela Guillory Angela Guillory
Assistant Dean/Director of Greek Life, Louisiana State University 25 years working with fraternities and sororities
My experience is balanced with having advised non-fraternity/ sorority student organizations, while volunteering for my national sorority, and working directly with a fraternity/sorority community for the last 10 years. Advising a fraternity/sorority community is vastly different because of significant consequences that do not exist in other student affairs functions. The advising style must be different, focusing on addressing compelling issues every day while improving the image of the community. Your constituents— chapters, advisors, alumni, college/university administrators— expect that of you. Spending considerable time on details that students are absolutely capable of handling, with proper training, is a waste of time. Completing such tasks might make you feel good, but the community will not advance in addressing risky behaviors, apathy, leadership deficits, poor relations among and between councils, or the many other struggles they face.
My top five suggestions are: 1. Train the students and empower them to act. 2. Develop trusting and respectful relationships with chapter advisors, chapter presidents, and house corporation members. 3. Communicate regularly with constituents. 4. Run your office efficiently and effectively. 5. Keep raising standards and spend time talking about the things that matter most to a fraternity/sorority community.
Stephanie Pyles Stephanie Pyles
Panhellenic Vice President of Recruitment, Boise State University Alpha Xi Delta
As a student, I have valued Angie Baugher, our fraternity/sorority life coordinator, because she has opened me up to so many opportunities and because she has helped me out in so many ways. She is the type of person you can relate to and can go to if you are having problems, not only about sorority and fraternity life, but my personal life as well. She has pushed me in the right direction for gaining experience within my major field and introduced me to people who will help me in the future. She cares about students on a personal level, as well as our community at large. For example, she helped change the way sorority recruitment happened in amazing ways, and our recruitment numbers have doubled as a result. While Angie has been here just a few short months, she has helped us move our community in a new direction.
James Linn James Linn
Former Interfraternity Council President, Eastern Michigan University Tau Kappa Epsilon
I believe the role of the advisor is key in the development of undergraduate members of the fraternal experience. I have worked with great advisors in my past four years of college who have been faculty, staff, and alumni. As a younger member of the fraternity/ sorority community, I used to look at advisors as someone to a spire to be and a person to keep our organization on track. As I started to build closer bonds with my advisors, I realized that their role truly surrounds the development in the individual student experience. Through many conversations with my advisors, I have been challenged and tested to not only think about my organization and the fraternity/sorority community, but also who I am and how I can be the best person possible and create change. In this way, advisors are more like life coaches than a resource guide for an organization. If you have an organization full of good people, then the organization will succeed. In my own experience, I have become more professional and credible, and developed my critical thinking skills. I have also become more confident in how I view my fraternal experience and values. My advisors have played a key part in who I have become, and I view their input as nothing less than life-changing.
Spring 2012 / Perspectives
Fraternity and Sorority Advising:
Can Coaching and Technology Help?
Persons serving in these advising roles often have in common their personal experience in a fraternity/sorority, limited professional experience in student development, and limited training. And, though often desirous of working together, the number of moving parts make collaboration logistically difficult.
By Terry Hogan, Mark Koepsell, and Chuck Eberly
Coaching of Student Leaders?
raternities and sororities remain a dominant feature on college and university campuses across North America. Nearly 200 inter/national organizations sponsor some 9,000 chapters with over 700,000 undergraduate members. Most often, the campus fraternity/sorority advisor is charged with making the most of this value-added opportunity for students. Often, entry-level professionals in one-person shops, these staff members are called upon to support multiple levels of governance, oversee individual chapters, provide leadership training, manage campus-wide recruitment processes, support interfraternalrelated honoraries, limit risk by monitoring events, and provide a comprehensive, timely response to incidents that might occur at any given moment—a set of expectations that has grown slowly but steadily over the last 40 years. Is this one-person effort the best way to support fraternity/sorority members, and is it the best use of the capabilities of the fraternity/ sorority advisor? What could be gained if fraternity/sorority advisors (and chapter consultants who work for the national organizations) spent more time cultivating a team of volunteer “coaches” rather than focusing most of their effort on working directly with student leaders? Student affairs and fraternity/sorority leaders participating in the Greek Summit at the 2011 NASPA National Conference explored this question and developed a possible improved approach for consideration by stakeholders.
Current State of Affairs Fraternity/sorority advisors generally “advise” the entire fraternal community as opposed to advising individual chapters. They meet with community-level student leaders and have less contact with chapter leaders/members or volunteer advisors of individual chapters. Their interactions with chapters are often reactive to a particular problem. Chapter consultants visit their chapters, meet with student officers and volunteer chapter advisors, and visit the campus fraternity/ sorority advisor to discuss chapter progress. They supplement the local support provided by the campus advisor and their local volunteer chapter advisor but may be limited in their impact since they visit infrequently. Local volunteers who serve as chapter advisors take a wide range of approaches to their duties. Often one-person operations, they juggle a myriad of administrative, advising, managing, and counseling tasks and work to meet the needs of inter/national organizations, campus administrators, chapter leaders, chapter members, and volunteers in state/regional roles. 14
These three support systems face a common set of issues. How is “putting out fires” balanced with student learning? How is growing vibrant organizations balanced with liability reduction? How is student leadership nurtured while minding the bottom line?
Perspectives / Spring 2012
Experience tells us that a chapter with engaged alumni/ae or an active advisor is almost always better performing. Might the current central campus advising model be refined and efforts focused on developing an expanded cohort of certified volunteers to “coach” individual student leaders using technology to support the effort? Such an approach would broaden the active support system for undergraduates and, by extension, supplement the work of campus fraternity/sorority advisors. Six strategies emerged from the NASPA Greek Summit dialogue. 1. Shift focus to leadership coaching. Though group-level activity is an explicit part of the overall experience and will never go away, how might chapter performance improve if individual student leaders were mentored by trained coaches whose sole purpose was to help the given student leader excel in his or her role? Coaches provide private, honest feedback and advice in an attempt to improve the performance of an individual within a team context. Premised on the development of trusting relationships, the potential for student leaders (and thus their organizations) to benefit from coaching appears meaningful. Enabling student leaders to visualize a clear path toward their goals, identifying markers to measure progress, and performing daily leadership activities without encroaching on individual scholastic performance are worthy coaching outcomes. 2. Take a team approach. Implicit in this concept is the idea of team advising. Used with great success in many organizations that are members of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), a key feature is sharing the workload across a group of trained volunteers. One volunteer advises the president, another, the treasurer, another the new member chair, and so on. With campus-supported, organization-approved individual volunteer coaches assigned to each student leader, might not other faculty and/or alumni volunteers be more willing to serve as overall chapter advisors because of the additional advising help? 3. Expand volunteer alumni/ae involvement as coach/advisors. As inter/national fraternities and sororities seek to positively engage more alumni/ae in the activities of their respective organizations, coaching student leaders could provide an appealing opportunity to those wishing a more personal connection to their alma mater or organization. With a more narrowly defined job description, a smaller piece of the overall pie to manage, and without the constraints associated with regularly scheduled face-to-face group meetings, more interested alumni/ae could be persuaded to get involved. Add to the mix the potential to use a readily available, virtually free technology such as Skype, and potential new coaches could meet weekly with their student leader without traveling to a distant college campus.
4. Reshape roles of fraternity/sorority advisor and chapter consultant. Implementing a coaching model of this sort would require reframing the roles of campus fraternity/sorority advisors and chapter consultants, and perhaps changing curriculum for graduate professional preparation programs. Most campus fraternity/sorority advisors and chapter consultants come to their work through their positive, personal fraternity/sorority experiences in college. Many then pursue master’s level graduate education in order to transition to an entry-level professional position on a campus or with an inter/national fraternity or sorority headquarters’ staff. Both current professional practice and graduate education focus on student development and seek to provide staff with knowledge of development theory that informs their work advising, counseling, guiding and/or assisting students. Support in this context is provided directly to students and intended to foster growth and development of students. The given activity or organization, in this case fraternities and sororities, serves as a vehicle for the individual student development that one hopes ensues. As such, volunteer development, organizational development, and leadership coaching are less evident in the current toolbox of emerging student affairs or fraternity/sorority life professionals. 5. Provide uniform training to certify coaches and advisors. One of the many challenges with traditional advising programs is the lack of consistent volunteer training for campus personnel or alumni/ae who assist chapters. Training offered at leadership meetings helps, as does the provision of resources online, but neither has turned any tide relative to the overall effectiveness of volunteers in these roles. Using technology to extend training to geographically-dispersed individuals is growing. “AlcoholEdu for College” and “Student Success” have demonstrated the viability of technology to not only deliver training online, but to assess learning through online testing and to document successful completion of training by a defined set of participants.
Further Consideration The current reality for most front-line fraternity/sorority professionals is a combination of work with council and chapter leaders supporting their individual growth and development as officers, balanced with the inevitable task of reacting to the risk management “issue of the week.” Although expected to manage this tightrope with precision and poise, most campus advisors work in an environment where the cards are stacked against them. Shifting to a coaching model has the potential to greatly improve the experience of students and the success of fraternal communities, but many questions remain. Does volunteer coaching really differ from student group advising? Would a larger and perhaps different set of alumni/ae find coaching opportunities appealing? Who could or would organize such a venture? Is there enough commonality of interest among different inter/national organizations and between inter/national organizations and campuses to support the development of a common online training platform for student leadership coaches and/or chapter advisors? Would fraternity/sorority advisors and chapter consultants view their work differently (and perhaps as less meaningful) if they were called upon to spend more time educating volunteers and less time interacting directly with students? Might the concept of volunteer coaching for individual student leaders work on your campus? – Terry Hogan is vice president for student affairs at the University of Northern Iowa and former national chair of the Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Knowledge Community. – Mark Koepsell is executive director of the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values. – Chuck Eberly is recently retired professor of counseling and student development at Eastern Illinois University. The ideas in this article were previously published in NASPA's Fall 2011 edition of the Leadership Exchange.
The proven utility of online technology opens the door to the development of a common curriculum (that can be customized with organization-specific content) for training all leadership coaches and advisors. 6. Encourage preparation programs to view volunteer development as a needed professional skill. Current graduate preparation program curricula devote scant attention to recruiting and training volunteers for any purpose or training volunteer coaches to carry out leadership education. Volunteer and organizational development have a theoretical and practical framework that would be a positive addition to graduate preparation program curricula.
Although expected to manage this tightrope with precision and poise, most campus advisors work in an environment where the cards are stacked against them. Spring 2012 / Perspectives
Nominations and Elections
2013 AFA Elected Officers It’s that time of year again! Please MARK YOUR CALENDARS for the upcoming AFA Executive Board Elections. This year the election ballot will open to all voting members on from August 20 through September 10. The election of our AFA Officers is one of the most important things that your membership in AFA allows you to do.
This year the following positions will be up for election: • President-Elect (2014 President) • Executive Vice President • Vice President for Membership • Regional Directors – Regions I, II, III, IV, & V
All candidate biographies and responses to the election questions will be made available to members. If you plan on voting in the elections, your membership dues must be paid by August 17, 2012, to be considered eligible to vote. To renew your membership, please visit the AFA website at www.afa1976.org/Membership.aspx. Please utilize your vote to help shape the direction and future of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors. If you have any questions on the elections process, or would like to see a job description for any positions, please visit www.afa1976.org/ AssociationBusiness/NominationsElections.aspx.
How Do We Align the Fraternity/Sorority Experience with the Changing Dynamics and Enduring Principles of Higher Education? By Dr. Daniel Bureau and Jennifer Leung
n 2010, AFA adopted a compelling vision that positions the Association as aspiring to become “the catalytic force in aligning the fraternity/sorority experience with the changing dynamics and enduring principles of higher education” (AFA, 2011). To examine the gap between our current reality and this desired end state, AFA convened a panel for the opening general session on December 1, 2011 at the Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. The objective was to solicit perspectives on issues that matter to higher education and how fraternities and sororities might play a role in addressing these issues. This article summarizes the general session content and reports themes of audience members’ key takeaways. Four questions were provided to the panelists as a basic framework for the day: • How is the fraternity/sorority experience enhancing student learning, growth, and development? How is it missing the mark? • Do our organizations truly support leadership development? • How are we documenting our contributions to student success? • Should fraternities and sororities do more to support student identity development? If so, what can we do? Panelists were well-known scholars in the higher education and student affairs field. • Dr. Susan Komives: Professor and program director of student affairs at the University of Maryland, immediate past president of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, and a former president of ACPA: College Student Educators International • Dr. Terrell L. Strayhorn: Associate professor of higher education at The Ohio State University, where he also serves as faculty research associate in the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity and senior research associate in the Todd A. Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male. • Dr. Vasti Torres: Professor of educational leadership and policy studies and director of the Center for Postsecondary Research in the School of Education at Indiana University. Dr. Torres was the first Latina to serve as the president of ACPA. Each has a record of scholarship in a range of higher education areas, is a member of a fraternity/sorority, and has worked with these groups in some professional capacity. Panelists provided
10 minutes of thoughts about topics of which they are most knowledgeable. Audience members submitted questions on index cards or through Twitter and were encouraged to tweet about their learning throughout the session. At the conclusion of the session, audience members were asked to write down one thing they learned and one thing they will do as a result of the general session. Their observations were collected as they left the session. Participants labeled the role they played (e.g., graduate student) on the index card.
Being a “High-Impact” Experience Komives opened the panel providing thoughts on the higher education priorities of student learning and development, leadership development, and fostering a connection to others in a global society. While we have historically made assumptions about how fraternities and sororities support student learning and development, it is time to make sure these experiences contribute in ways that matter not only to members but to those with whom members interact. She stated: “Fraternity and sorority systems must do more to show the public good from membership: workforce development, community engagement, intelligent citizenry, civil society, and preparing people to function in diverse communities engaged in moral decision making.” She went on to explain that fraternities and sororities must contribute to the leadership development of members, providing “a high-impact experience for members targeted at explicit outcome goals and one of those goals should be leadership development. Some chapters do this well, but it is not an explicit goal for most and most do not have systematic experiences to build leadership efficacy and capacity in all members.”
Fraternities and sororities are relevant in higher education. How do we stay that way? continued...
Perspectives / Spring 2012
Spring 2012 / Perspectives
continued from page 17
Komives’ comments provided great content for the active participant Twitter feed. Here are just a few: @weballison | Allison Webster We are meaningless unless we contribute to student learning. #AFA2011AM @maribethjflakes | Maribeth Johnson Flakes How are members intentionally learning the skills they need for post collegiate life? #AFA2011AM @cwellhouser | Christina Wellhouser What opportunities do we provide for students to reflect and make meaning of learning experiences? @phiredup | Phired Up Leadership should be an outcome we expect in 100% of our fraternity and sorority members @tfec | Tricia Fechter "How do we ensure student success in the broadest of terms? 100% of our members should graduate." Dr. Komives
Identity Development and Cocooning Torres focused on the role that fraternities and sororities play in members’ identity development. Using her own stories about membership in a sorority as an example, Torres shared how the need to belong and potentially assimilate that comes with membership in a fraternity/sorority may disrupt some necessary and important developmental processes of college students. She stated: “We have to stop overvaluing one type of person and begin to balance out what all characteristics bring to our orgs [sic].” Such actions can create a sense of “cocooning” or being sheltered as a result of membership. While, cocooning is a natural development process for young adults, particularly around the time of transition from high school to college, Torres explained that exploration of identity and the possible adoption of new identity is one of the most salient outcomes of college and naturally occurs: For many students the structures of fraternities and sororities cocoon them from having experiences with people and topics that are different from their current belief system. This may be why seniors distance themselves, because these structures no longer provide the level of challenge to keep them engaged in the organization. Audience members shared key takeaways from her comments. Brian Hoffman said (brianhoffman1) “Student development requires a level of dissonance, challenging the process, growing as an individual and leader.” While Josh Orendi commented on 18
Perspectives / Spring 2012
Twitter that “cocooning is developmentally appropriate ... not for 4 years." f/s enabling isolation?”
The Need to Belong Strayhorn, an expert on the experiences of first-generation college students, shared stories of students that had an interest in fraternity membership in his ongoing research of African American male students. One student was not given membership to an organization, which brought a diminished sense of self-esteem to the young man. As a result, this student’s idea of his worth became increasingly fractured. Strayhorn explained how students have an “inherent need to belong” and that the process of joining a fraternity/sorority may actually be detrimental to those with low self-esteem. In addition, he provided a compelling challenge to fraternity and sorority professionals to stop letting students dictate our agenda. Audience members shared a range of thoughts on Twitter about Strayhorn’s comments, particularly focusing on the challenge we have to help students develop self-esteem.
fraternity and sorority life in one day. At the same time, I must remain strong in what I know is right for the direction we need to move in and fight those battles that bring needed change. We All Are Educators: No longer can we simply provide advising and help coordinate programs. To be a valued contributor in the higher education enterprise, we must articulate our role as an educator. Justin Kirk tweeted: “Do F/S hq staff members see their role as educators? I hope so.” One participant wrote on an index card: “I learned about moving towards more critical thinking and purposeful programming about student development and identity development.” Meet Our Responsibility to Ongoing Learning: Anywhere, anytime, anyone—fostering learning in all that we do should be a primary goal if we are to be aligned with broad higher education priorities.
Brent Turner shared “Students arrive on campuses with little sense of authentic self. We cultivate meaning making in FSL.” T.J. Sullivan tweeted "My need to belong is so strong; I am willing to endure things contrary to human dignity." And Mandy Womack said “Your core sense of self has to be something bigger.”
Maribeth Johnson Flakes tweeted: “Each of us has a responsibility to be actively engaged.” One attendee shared: “The session served as a reminder that I am an educator and should be contributing to student learning. I should also be challenging my organizations to create learning experiences.”
Time for action
Structure Our Work to Meet the Developmental Needs of Students: Being aware of developmental trends and theories is important. Helping students through these experiences is vital.
Participants felt reassured that panelists saw value in the fraternity/ sorority experience: Shannon Sumerlin tweeted: “Fraternities and sororities are relevant in higher education. How do we stay that way?” One participant shared via index card: “There is measured value in the fraternity/sorority experience. We need to think intentionally about how we promote and further develop skills.” The question of panelists’ perception of worth aside, the rest of this article focuses on what participants took as the actions they will need to do in order to close the gap from current reality to alignment “with the enduring principles of higher education?” Be the Enthusiastic Realist: Komives challenged audience members to maintain hope and excitement about fraternity/sorority life, but understand that the reality is that we have a lot of work to do! One audience member shared via index card: I am but one person. I must have the brightness and enthusiasm to remain positive and motivated in my work, but also understand that I cannot change
No longer can we simply provide advising and help coordinate programs. To be a valued contributor in the higher education enterprise, we must articulate our role as an educator.
Mandy Womack shared via Twitter: “Mattering, the need to belong. We should be all about this. Our work should create spaces for real, authentic relationships.” Through review of submitted index cards, this theme was powerful for participants. One wrote: “I learned the sense of belonging that exists for students undergirds their decision making. It is our role to intentionally develop these students (while attempting to maintain our own energy and enthusiasm).” Act with Intention: Fraternity/sorority professionals should not just hope things happen. They must create the environment to help students accomplish the learning and developmental outcomes we believe occur as a result of membership. Matea Vazgec tweeted “Reflect more intentionally on our process, how are we building leaders?” An audience member wrote: “We need to be more purposeful with our students—setting learning objectives and giving purpose to the activities we do. This will help us to elevate the experience we provide students.”
Another shared: “I’m motivated to create intentional spaces for continued reflection and meaning making for all members.” Drive the Fraternity/Sorority Life Agenda: In closing, all too often we respond to the demands of students when they rarely will ask us to focus on the kinds of issues that broad higher education is demanding. Strayhorn’s comments struck attendees as one of the most powerful lessons of the Annual Meeting. Tricia Fechter shared on Twitter that “students should not drive the agenda of the fraternal movement.” The emphasis on creating the agenda and engaging students but not letting them dictate the course was acknowledged in the index cards provided by attendees: “One thing I will do is not let the students pick the agenda. It constantly happens and it inhibits growth.” – Dan Bureau, PhD., is the Director of Student Affairs Learning and Assessment at the University of Memphis and a Past President of AFA. – Jennifer Leung is the Assistant Director of Student Activities at the College of William & Mary and currently serves the Association as the Vice President of Resource Development. References
Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors. (2011). 2011-2013 Strategic Plan. Retrieved from http://www.afa1976.org/ AboutAFA/StrategicPlan.aspx.
Spring 2012 / Perspectives
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