• Custom design [You want your materials to look how you want them to look. We get that.] • Custom printing [Your printed pieces have never looked prettier.] • Custom apparel [Making you look good makes us look good.]
AND THAT’S JUST THE BEGINNING. Partner with us and you’ll build awareness and increase membership in your organization in a jiffy. And if you need to raise funds or even build your brand, it just happens we specialize in that, too. In fact, we’ve partnered with more than 170 colleges and national organizations to help them accomplish all this and more. It’s no big deal—it’s just what we do.
We’ll be at the MGCA conference in February, but you’re always more than welcome to visit us online at www.innovacampusimpact.com.
the inside st
002 // letter from the execut ive director 003 // letter from the edito r 020 // facilit ation 411 / ch eck point 022 // busted ! 024 // ask th e experts 025 // the w all 027 // from the road
FEATURES 004 // leadership, management and a moral code / david stollman 010 // aligning individual & organizational values w/action / dan bureau 013 // leading through ritual / edward m. king 016 // the role of hazing in fraternal relevance / tracy maxwell 017 // what role do your values play in leadership? / steven t. birdine 018 // what is real leadership? / gary sailes 026 // taking action: creating a greek leadership course / scott konkol 028 // live your ritual / eileen marin
Connections is the official publication of the MidAmerican Greek Council Association. The views expressed by contributors, authors and advertisers are not necessarily those of the Association. MGCA encourages the submission of content to: Lea Hanson Director of Publications email@example.com
Connections is published four times each year: Submission Deadlines: Spring 2008: March 11, 2008 Summer 2008: July 14, 2008 Fall 2008: September 15, 2008 Winter 2009: January 12, 2009
Submit advertising queries to: Mark Koepsell Executive Director mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org 970/372.1174 888/855.8670 email@example.com
Send address corrections to: Mid-American Greek Council Association 3308 Snowbrush Court Fort Collins, CO 80521 970/372.1174 888/855.8670 firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial Board Will Foran, Western Illinois University Eileen M. Marin, Virginia Tech Connections is seeking additional Editorial Board members. If you are interested in applying, contact Lea Hanson, Editor, at email@example.com. MGCA // 001
Letter from the Executive Director
To say that the history of the Mid-American Greek Council runs deep is an understatement. As I think of the tens of thousands of individuals who have attended one of our conferences over the years I get so insanely excited about the impact we have had and can have on the fraternal movement. And then as I consider that broad impact along with the impact on individuals who have been touched by the Association, I quickly begin to realize how humble I feel for having the opportunity to be part of it. Last month a group of us were visiting the hotel to get ready for the conference. One of the hotel employees that we interfaced with explained that he had attended our predecessor organization MIFCA/MAPCA (Mid-American Interfraternity Council Association and the Mid-American Panhellenic Council Association) in the midnineties as an undergraduate officer of his Interfraternity Council. He was quite excited to now have the opportunity to work with our event from another angle. I can’t begin to explain how many times I have run into random individuals on airplanes, traveling, or through some random connection that have a history with MGCA (or MIFCA/MAPCA as the case may be). It’s always inspiring to hear their stories and to realize that in some way, however big or small, MGCA has touched them and has become an eternal part of their personal development and fond memory of times gone by. That ability to touch lives in a positive manner is what we are all about. The MGCA Purpose states that we believe in the ideas and development of the fraternity and sorority system and recognize the need for strong councils to stimulate an active interest in the growth of college fraternities and sororities in America. Our Annual Leadership Conference has served as the primary force to accomplish that mission all these years. The conference has grown to be the largest undergraduate conference of its kind. MGCA is widely recognized as the leader in providing quality education and development for student leaders, professionals, and volunteers. And yet, we say, that is not enough. It is so exciting and gratifying to be able to bring about the addition of another resource that is geared at accomplishing that same mission. MGCA Connections is designed to provide ongoing training, education, and development throughout the entire year. We will be publishing four editions annually. Our deepest desire is to become the publication that is coveted as a resource to help those that work to keep our fraternity and sorority communities thriving on campuses across North America. And if that is beginning to sound stuffy, I want to express that we hope to do that within a format that is fun to read and exciting to look at too! MGCA is growing, MGCA is changing. It is because of our members and those that have supported our Association, your Association, all these years that we are in the position to do that. Thanks for your role in helping to achieve this milestone of accomplishment. I’m can’t wait to see what else we can do together! Interfraternally, Mark P. Koepsell // Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org
002 // connections // 2008.spring
Letter from the Editor
My first experience with MGCA was when I attended the conference my Junior year in college as a council officer. Good times. In addition to this being my first MGCA conference, this experience was also my first experience doing anything “Greek” outside of my campus realm. I was amazed. I was like a country mouse in the city; nothing that I had done on my campus could even compare to the experience that I got at this conference. Although I can generally remember the experience as being great, a few specific memories stand out for me. First, I remember the Keynote Speakers. One of the speakers was Will Keim. He talked about fraternal values and I was totally humiliated… I hate to admit it, but I was totally ignorant, I had never talked about fraternal values in this way. I may go so far as to say I might have never really heard the words “fraternal values” before… sad but true. Sure, I had gone through new member education in my chapter and probably a council retreat on my campus, but that was pretty much it. Needless to say, I bought it! At this point I was hooked, fraternal values was my new thing, I was a born-again Greek, a values crusader! This leads us into my second most vivid memory: me preaching to my fellow council officers that night about not drinking in their room:“No, you guys, we are not 21 and this is a substance-free conference, we need to live our values like Will says” (do you see me becoming less cool?). My third vivid memory is all of the fantastic tote bags that other Sorority women were carrying around with them! They were just like my old Esprit bag but they had LETTERS on them! How fabulous! Now, to redeem myself (except for those tote bags, I still would really like to have one), I was able to settle into my new self, my self-righteousness did eventually level out to a healthier dose of simple conscientiousness. After some time and some additional experiences, I was able to move from being an integrity autocrat to a simple Sorority woman who thinks about her actions and makes every attempt to live her values every day (and my friends liked me again). In hindsight, almost 10 years later, I can say that while I made some incredible personal revolutions at that first MGCA conference that I still adhere to, I have altered my approach. I have also had the opportunity to experience a number of additional experiences that have added to my leadership and my journey to becoming a values-based leader. The MGCA conference is nothing short of transformational for many attendees, and continues to be so even for those that attend more than once. Now MGCA has another opportunity to impact your leadership transformation: through this magazine. It is our goal to continue to create a positive impact on the fraternal movement through this publication that you can have access to all year round, not just for a few days in February. The purpose of this publication is to create and maintain momentum and inspiration to your leadership. It aims to educate and celebrate undergraduate fraternity and sorority leaders and professionals alike; our intent is that each issue is interesting, fun, and something that you can learn from as well as laugh at. My hope is that this publication takes on a life of its own and that our publication is eventually driven by your interests and responses: consider sending pieces that would fit our regularly occurring columns to highlight your campus, community or organization. Happy reading to all. Lea Hanson // Director of Publications email@example.com
MGCA // 003
woven into the fabric of our fraternities and sororities. We recite them in our oaths, and act their meanings out in our ritual ceremonies -- yeah, that time when you bust out the robes, light up the candles (or plug them in for fire safety), and put the flowers out on the table next to the bible. We use these words and ceremonies to teach the confines of that moral code that tells us all how to live a “good” life. The lessons of right and wrong aren’t about achieving perfection. They are about the constant pursuit of improvement. Today you are a better brother or sister; a better leader or servant; a better citizen of your community and world; a better friend; student; and athlete because of your fraternity or sorority. They shape the moral code you use to live your life. Yes, the ritual may play a smaller role than the influence of religion or parents, but it should play some role. Some students say that their moral code is independent of, and should not be influenced by their organization. “I don’t need my fraternity to tell me what to do!” The simple answer is “Because when you raised your hand and swore that oath… YOU said so.” You willingly swore to include the organization’s values in your daily life. Making mistakes is part of the process - no one is perfect. Our mistakes as Greeks are made among brothers and sisters who are there to challenge us to correct those mistakes, not ignore them. While one person is taking their turn being an idiot, they ought to be challenged by the
Leadership, management and a moral code Value Based Leadership in Our Greek World by David Stollman firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s face it: someone needs to sharpen the machetes, to insure there is water and food, and to keep the group together. Those are “Manager” responsibilities for the group cutting a path through the jungle. Leaders climb the tall trees to see where the group needs to go, and redirects them when they are astray. What we generally consider “leadership” as a chapter officer, or even Greek professionals, actually combines both skill sets. Understanding the difference between management, leadership and, more specifically, Value Based Leadership is essential today in our Greek world. Let’s get back to our group in the jungle. Value Based Leadership (VBL) is not only making sure the group is headed in the right direction, but that it gets there in the appropriate ways. Through Recruitment Boot Camp and other programs, I have taught the process of SMART goal setting. Specific, Measurable, and Timely are all pretty easily understood. But, Righteous is often another story. Is it the RIGHT thing to do? What defines right and wrong for each of us? Childhood Upbringing? Religious or spiritual teachings? Societal or cultural norms? Or, possibly a good memory of Saved by the Bell? (Or, if you are old like me it is The Brady Bunch) Each plays a part in our personal definitions of what is right, and wrong. These are the lenses through which we judge our world, and guide our decisions.
However, as Greeks, we have chosen to add another layer to our lens. Each one of us swears ourselves to a basic set of values by joining our organization. Words like Virtue, Honor, Sisterhood, Service, Integrity, Brotherhood, Rectitude, Wisdom, etc, are
brother or sister who took their turn being an idiot last week. The fraternal experience is about learning and it works because we aren’t ALL idiots at the same time. None of us should make mistakes without it being challenged. Throughout this article I will focus on the negative. This is not because I believe that there is more bad than good: in most communities about a third of the chapters are shining examples of what is right in our Greek world; another third of the chapters could, should and can still become good. But, there is still way too much bad. Insufficient leadership has allowed a cancer to grow among us. This cancer has come to define us, shape our community norms, and anchor us from ever achieving our potential. Many chapters, some whole Greek communities and even some entire national fraternal organizations are past saving. I focus on the negative because that is what needs our attention at this time. We need to honestly approach what is wrong and fight it. Fight it because saving this fraternal movement is worth our efforts. I will be critical of many. I will likely offend some people. My apologies go out to those who take offense where none was meant for them. My hope is to spur some debate; to get people past the fear of hurting feelings and REALLY start talking about important issues. People must be forceful in fighting for what our fraternal movement SHOULD be. Value Based Leadership – Group Values in Action and Inaction Back to our group in the jungle. The righteous path is not always the most direct path to achieve our goals. Having new members memorize information might be the simplest way to insure they have certain knowledge, but, is that the best way for them to really retain important information? Another example: would 50 kegs and farm animals get lots of guys to show up at a recruitment event? Sadly, I think so. But, would that be the RIGHT thing to do for an organization based on a commitment to a higher moral code? Clearly not. But, would it be OK for the Students Against Sobriety and the Unethical Treatment of Farm Animals? Sure. Sounds alright to me if they want to do that. (For the record, I hope they don’t and I do not condone such an event.) But, it seems to fit what the SASETFA is all about. Right? As Greeks, we can’t continue to judge our choices by the values of others. We must use our own values in deciding what is right for us. Swearing to values means we can now be judged by how well we live them. Individuals all swearing allegiance to the same concepts can still vary greatly in their interpretation of how those values translate into both group and personal behavior. I put the question out “What does leading with your values mean to you?” on my Buy In or GET OUT! Facebook group. It got a variety of responses. Matt Deger from Phi Delta Theta at the University of Cincinnati said, “There should be some conflict between different members of the chapter because this conflict is how we grow, adapt, and improve.” I agree: it is the conflict with your brothers and sisters that forces you to change and mold your views of the world. There is also conflict between our founders’ views of these concepts and how our chapters live them today. We need to adapt to changing environments whether it’s racial or religious integration, assimilation of nontraditionally aged members, or the acknowledgment of the different sexual orientations among our members. Chapters need to work through their understanding of what their values mean in
today’s context. You are not changing the concept of Honor, but updating its application by honoring the dignity of those even our founders would have shunned for reasons directly contradicting the values taught in their own ritual ceremonies.
Another response from my Facebook group is from Maddy Shoemaker, a Sigma Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She wrote, “I put my values and the sorority values before my sisterhood. Does that make me a bad sister? Or, does that make me a GOOD sister?” Often some of the strongest leaders I encounter are from bad chapters. There is something about struggling alone to get one’s closest friends to do the right that makes them stronger. Strong leaders don’t resign themselves to fail; they learn how to adapt their style to become more successful. They are not martyrs who seek the lonely misery of an unpopular commitment to what is right, they try different ways to communicate views and advocate for change. The goal is more than knowing you’re right, it is leading the organization to do what is right!
Campuses have the responsibility, not just the right, to monitor and even limit the groups it recognizes and the events these groups host. Campuses also have a mission to be met. A Greek organization’s charter is like a contract. The campus, and national organization agrees to recognize and support you, and you agree to operate in accordance with those values. The university won’t recognize a SASETFA chapter (the farm animal people) on their campus because of their stated mission and purpose. But, they have agreed to allow you because of your stated mission and purpose. If the SASETFA changes their mission, they might gain recognition. And to the contrary, if your organization changes its mission, you can loose recognition. How does the campus know if a group has changed its mission and purpose? Easy, true values are You will piss people off. easier seen than heard. It is what you do, I challenge you to name not what you say, that defines you. Is it fair to say that many chapters have changed their basic mission and purpose and are no longer examples of their espoused values? Not sure? Well, think of it this way: how many chapters do you know that would choose “social” over their ritual ceremony if forced to keep only one? This being the case, strong VBL is the only way to get back on track.
one great leader in all of the human experience that guided great changes who didn’t piss someone off.
Student Leaders or Managers? Most chapter and council officers were not elected to be leaders but rather, to be managers. Average members don’t want change – maybe improvement, but not real change. Members may want to perform better in this year’s Step Show but wouldn’t consider getting rid of their canes to do it. Change is difficult. Casting off “traditions” isn’t the answer. But, the willingness to CONSIDER shedding things thought “sacred” in order to live our values more IS essential to being a true leader. The chapter officer is often in a difficult spot. Leadership is expected from them by outsiders, but not those who are supposed to be following. Campus administrators, national/international volunteers and others expect the chapter to fix deficiencies, and not repeat problematic behavior. And yet, the problematic behavior is often what the average member values most and is least willing to change. Council officers can have it even tougher. They are expected to make bigger changes, system-wide changes, and have even less power than chapter officers to do it. A Lonely Proposition You can, and should, stand up for your beliefs, even if you look around, and find yourself alone. Leadership, especially VBL, is about stepping forward in the face of great adversity. As an officer, others may not have elected you to rock the boat, but it is actually your job to do it. ROCK ON! Will you piss them off as you threaten the “traditions” that are sacred to them? YES! Oh well. Build a bridge and get over the hopes that you will be popular when you leave office. It probably won’t happen if you want to be a true leader. You may even loose some of that sisterhood or brotherhood feeling. The tougher the chapter problems, the more likely that will happen. I believe if you never thought of quitting your organization out of frustration, you probably didn’t care enough.
Greek Advisors: Cruise Director or Captain? The challenges of VBL far exceed the undergraduate experience. After almost 15 years working in this field I have found that most Greek advisors (I use this loose term for campus based professionals working within Greek life) are hired to be leaders but only empowered to be managers. Their abilities to make change are constrained by miniscule budgets, understaffing, and insufficient support of alumni and even national headquarters staff.
What really frustrates me the most are short-sighted administrators up the chain from the Greek advisor who want that person to act like a glorified cruise director: “Plan some events during Greek Week, make sure that there isn’t too much drama in recruitment, and try to keep a lid on the parties so things aren’t too crazy.” Too many of these Deans and VPs won’t address REAL issues with REAL leadership. The Greek advisor is trained, willing and trying to climb that tall tree to see where we need to go, but their boss is telling them to get down tree and make sure that the annual winter carnival goes off without a hitch. This is a generality of course, but I see too much truth in it as I travel from campus to campus. In many communities where there are REAL problems of hazing or serious alcohol and drug abuse, the Greek advisor knows what is happening but is constrained from confronting it in a meaningful way. Sometimes there is a fear of actually addressing the problem and thus increasing the legal responsibility if something bad happens. Sometimes it is just a desire to keep from rocking the boat… big change takes a lot of work and resources. These Greek Advisor are too often getting told not to stir up trouble with alumni and parents. Yes, especially the parents! The headaches aren’t worth it. Optimistically, I believe that some are depending on the “developmental process” of student empowerment to take hold and drive change. Oftentimes, there is a belief that advisors should stay on the ground and get the students to climb those trees to provide the VBL that the community needs. There is real validity in this, but only to an extent. When there is no hope of success, more has to be done by the administrators to push through change. To those who put all their faith in the hopes that students alone will drive those changes I ask, “How’s that been working for you?!” Yes student leaders must lead, and advisors must empower them to do so, but at some point, we have to acknowledge that there just isn’t anyone who is willing or able to climb a tree. Maybe some campus professionals are just too nice or too patient. Maybe they don’t want to hold students accountable because it will hurt feelings. MGCA // 005
When someone is expelled from the university for hazing, it is an ugly scene. Or, patient enough to feel good about progress in inches when yards are needed. Great, so now a student will be killed less violently than they would have been 10 years ago?! At this pace we’ll be on top of this issue in another 100 years! “Hazing is beyond our grasp to really control” isn’t a good enough answer! If that is the case we have to extend our reach!
Don’t misunderstand me. I know that Greeks are providing the VBL on hazing prevention in general. As a founding member of the HazingPrevention.org Board of Directors, I know it all too well: when the call went out, there were no volunteers from the other areas of student life. This leadership of a few of us doesn’t absolve all of us of the many missed opportunities to lead.
And you better watch yourself addressing hazing in the culturally based Greek groups. A white administrator must walk on eggshells in discussing even clear violations of university policy (and state law) with a culturally based Greek group. I even hear Greek advisors of color saying they don’t feel like they can push the issue with groups of a different racial background than their own. Instead of just addressing the fact that hazing has no race, religion or creed, it is simply ignored in order to be sensitive and polite. My fear is that I paint too many campus administrators in this light while I describe a minority so strongly that it sounds like the majority. There are many outstanding professionals from university presidents down to first year graduate assistants who do see the big picture and are providing the leadership. They inspire me and give me hope for our movement. However, there are just not enough of them right now and they too often run into barriers where they should find support.
What can they do? If fraternities were serious about hazing, they would sue chapter members who hazed. Yes, a fraternity suing the individual member for breach of contract – their membership agreement. Every member knows they are not supposed to haze; fraternity education does a great job of making that clear. Many organizations have the chapter read and even sign the statement each year saying they won’t do it; the problem is, chapters just simply don’t believe that the national fraternity is serious. But, as far as I have heard, fraternities and sororities are not even entertaining the idea. This isn’t a surprise. How many chapters do you know of that were closed for risk management or hazing but no individuals lost their membership? The national organization speaks the language of personal alignment to organizational values, but too often fails to actually hold their sisters and brothers to account for their chapter’s choices. “Suspend them until graduation. They may mature someday and become a great volunteer, or a big donor.”
“Nationals” – Car Rentals or Leaders? Most fraternity and sorority staff members are hired to be managers and not allowed to be leaders. Along with them, I would put all but the highest level of national volunteers. Chapter, district or regional advisors, are all expected to be managers merely implementing a larger vision that is told to them. National staff members are capable of so much more than the “form and fee” collectors they are usually expected to be.
I know many exceptions of individual fraternity and sorority staff members as well as volunteers at all levels who are true leaders, but they are too often outnumbered and outranked. Their wins, admirable as they are, affect too few and happen too infrequently to change the general operating procedures of the organization as w hole. Those wins, in spite of their limited affect on the general Greek community, still manage to inspire me.
Staff members who know the bad chapters and are attune to the likelihood of their impending implosion are discouraged from doing anything about it. Or, doing anything that will make a difference. National boards make decisions based too much on real estate and membership income, and too little on values congruence. Some chapters are long overdue to be closed, but they are isolated from that reality by a few stubborn alumni with big checkbooks or disproportionate influence.
The VBL Playbook I sound like a bitter pessimist. But, I am not. If we can stop worrying so much about how others will react to a new way of thinking of solving problems, great things will happen. I work hard for change and want you to as well: here are some thoughts to focus your energy. Will they be hard? Yes. Are there millions of reasons why NOT to do any of these? Yes. What is the alternative? Well, we could keep doing what we have been doing. Again, “How’s that been working for you?”
How do I know that fraternities and sororities are often lead by checkbooks more than ritual books? How many chapters do you know that have been on notice to close for “non performance” meaning low membership numbers that otherwise are providing a quality fraternal experience? I have known sorority chapters who were producing strong intelligent leaders. The women had strong sisterly bonds and a good understanding of their values. They were an active and positive force in their Panhellenic community though not the largest force. All this, and they still on notice to close from their national organization because the chapter was about 80 women below campus average. It is a shame that quality chapters like this are ever at risk of closure. This is a common situation; it’s especially sad because there are other horrible chapters that would never be at risk of closing simply because they are the largest sorority on their campus. This pervasive culture that equates relative size as a measure of success is corrosive to our true mission.
I. II. III. IV. V.
Define Our Purpose Focus on Actions Real Accountability Weed the Garden Grow
I. Define Our Purpose “The University is out to get us!” You’re right! So are the police! And so is your national fraternity too! This is my response to the most common of all whining. Chapters generally aren’t paranoid - they are accurate! Everyone listed IS out to get them and bad chapters know why. It is because the group is doing things that those other people don’t like and they want it to stop. It’s simple: Stop breaking the law and the cops won’t be out to get you!
And, what about hazing? Are national fraternities and sororities truly fulfilling their leadership responsibilities? If they were, they would get serious about ending hazing. Instead of ‘covering their asses’ being their version of response, and ‘lip service education’ being their version of prevention, more needs to be done. A good first step would be to elect national board members who actually believe hazing is wrong. They might hire staff members, and field consultants (where those jobs do exist) who deal with it head on when even the hint arises. So many wink and nod at hazing and won’t admit it exists until they are backed into a corner. Shameful.
006 // connections // 2008.spring
Stop hazing and your national organization won’t be out to get you. Stop destroying student’s academic careers and the university won’t be out to get you! These types of members feel paranoid because the problematic behaviors that others are out to stop are at the core of their organizational identity. For example, hazing is so close to what their brotherhood or sisterhood is about, that ending it would be ending the fraternity as they know it. It has to start with a conversation about our purpose and values with the chapters that aren’t too far gone. Why do we exist at our most el-
emental state and through what means should we be pursuing that end? Achieving consensus with a set of values sworn to in word but trivialized by actions doesn’t have to be that hard. An honest discussion of what those values will look like in normal chapter behavior is needed. Describe what it would be like to be a chapter that lives by these values: what would we do and not do? How would we do it? If members cannot buy into the ideas, they can leave. This might be where the conversation turns into a lecture. Expect it. They can take the letters off and get out. But, give fair warning – congruence is coming like a freight train and they can get on board, or be left like road-kill on the tracks. Major, foundation-shaking, culture-altering changes don’t happen gradually. The acceptance that a change is occurring may take time, but the change happens at once. Those who don’t accept the change are left behind. Dinosaurs. Some students will be angry they are not involve; the truth is that they just want to filibuster the process or slow the pace so they can graduate before their preferred reality. You will piss people off. I challenge you to name one great leader in all of the human experience that guided great changes who didn’t piss someone off.
ties, why couldn’t this be applied across a national organization? This type of change would be easy for some chapters and unthinkable for others. Value Based Leadership is about taking simple concepts like this and actualizing them. Would this be difficult for some communities to accept? YES. Are there logistical concerns? Of course! Everything from setting the right percentages, to finding the reporting structure will take lots of work. But leaders (students and professionals) are those that need to be able to see what isn’t there yet, what needs to be there, and then find the way to make it all a reality. III. Real Accountability Bigger carrots and real sticks: there has to be reasons why chapters change their habits on the way to values congruence. Shifting normal operating procedures can be very difficult for a chapter, but when the will is there - it can be done. All sorts of operational procedures can and do change when the priorities shift. But if none of this achieves the desired result, it doesn’t matter. Grades are not measures of effort, but performance. Helping direct efforts is a good example of VBL, but ultimately, chapters need to be held accountable to performance, not just effort. Real positive and negative incentives based on performance are needed. Stop rewarding chapters for what they should be doing! When I hear that a chapter is above the all men’s or women’s average, I think, “Big deal. They are SUPPOSED to be above average.” Stop rewarding mediocre performance! I see chapters winning their national chapter of the year award that are good, not great, chapters. The bar has been lowered; all of sudden we have found ourselves rewarding chapters that meet basic expectations. Are our minimum standards this low or are we rewarding them because they are simply better than the other chapters on campus - remember, the top turd on the pile is still poop! As long as they stay out of trouble, chapters are allowed to be horrible by national organizations as well as campuses.
the VBL Playbook
II. Focus on Actions Most bad chapters are past saving; the culture is too corrupt. Don’t focus on those dead on the vine, soon I will explain how to weed them from our garden. Let’s focus on the majority of chapters that have hope. Work with those that have the potential to succeed.
Define Our Purpose Focus on Actions Real Accountability Weed the Garden Grow
How do we know which chapters have potential? It is easier than you think: watch them. Again, people learn about your values with their eyes, not their ears. It is what is done that communicates the most. Many chapter leaders are programmed to give the right responses and have practiced talking their way out of trouble for most of their lives. No doubt the bad chapters are smart enough to put that person out front. Don’t listen, watch. If we want a chapter to live the values it espouses, let’s measure how well it does it. It takes real assessment of chapter behavior. Some campuses have made great strides in this area, others pay lip service to the idea with insultingly low expectations. Expect little, and you will surely get it. Encourage, award, expect and, if needed, force a higher set of behaviors and eventually the chapter’s priorities will shift. Since membership changes so rapidly, in a few semesters, members entering the chapter will be buying into something totally different. For example, let’s apply balance in programming to force a shift in the priorities. If social programming is only part of who we are, then it should happen proportionally to our other values expressed in our programming priorities. Let’s ask ourselves: is social the purpose for joining or is it one of many benefits of membership? Chapters can have as many parties, socials, formals, etc. as they like so long as that it doesn’t exceed, let’s say, 20% of their total programming. So for every one party, the chapter has four other programs. They could be a member growth and development program, a ritual program, a service project, an academic performance review, etc. This isn’t just an idea for campus communi-
Allow me to be abundantly clear here that I do not believe performance is all about membership size. Quantity doesn’t drive quality, quality drives quantity. There is a philosophy at work here that is wrong. Expecting a chapter to get big in the hopes that it will become good is too common a misperception. Chapters get good first, and then grow in size. I define “performing” as doing good things and doing them well. If chapters execute quality educational programs, develop their members and new members, serve the community, lead and act within our common moral code and, of course get good grades, they are a good chapter. Why do I hear so often that, “We have 12 different sororities here on campus that are all EQUALLY great.” We insult the potential new member’s intelligence with such absurdity and they know it. Panhellenic communities try so hard to create a bubble in which formal recruitment can happen so the truth doesn’t affect the outcome. Although the NPC does deserve credit for banning silence (for most of the year) the basic fear based philosophy is still pervasive throughout the formal recruitment process. The expectation is that information must only be exchanged in very limited and “fair” ways. Imagine if this were done when someone shopped for ANY other product. You want to buy a car? OK. Well you have to register with the Auto Gild, pay them a registration fee and agree to their rules of shopping. Failure to do so will disqualify you from being able to buy a car. Then after you are brought around to every dealership you can narrow it down to just the cars you wanted in the first place. You can’t actuMGCA // 007
ally TALK with any owners about their cars because that might influence your decision. And after all, that wouldn’t be fair to the other dealers. It especially wouldn’t be fair to those companies that make inferior cars! How could they ever be expected to sell an equal number as those that make the best cars? Sound absurd? Maybe it is. We need to measure chapters and then be public about those measurements. Imagine a Consumer Reports for our chapters so that buyers can make the best decisions for them. We might measure retention the way it should be measured: not by how many new members get initiated, but how many actually graduate active. Chapters, just like companies, stumble. They make mistakes. But if the chapter is protected from the results that should come from those mistakes they will make them over, and over again. Making them public rather than sweeping it under the rug will hold their feet to the fire until needed changes are made. Back to the carrots and sticks. Public and meaningful praise must be given from the highest possible positions for outstanding, and ONLY outstanding, performance. Focus time, energy, support and resources to the chapters that are leading. Work with the chapters that are currently doing well, and those that are close to doing well. If the rest can’t get it together - so be it. With all the resources out there, ANY chapter can massively improve their operations and performance in a matter of one year. All they have to do is ask for help, and then follow up on the ideas given. Chapters are competitive by nature. Don’t ignore it, use it to push the entire community higher. Instead of passively allowing the culture to focus competition on things that don’t exemplify our values, change the conversation! What if chapters were given cash, banner space, first selection of a university suite, free t-shirts for a year, for the most outstanding academic performance? Or the most service hours per member? The best educational programming for members? Instead of simply allowing the Step Show, or Greek Sing, or Intramurals to dominate their competitive energies, direct them toward a better cause.
IV. Weed the Garden Campuses go through massive problems that are created by just one bad chapter; usually one that everyone knows should have been closed long ago. National organizations deal with multimillion dollar lawsuits that threaten their existence because of chapters like this. Chapters shouldn’t be closed at the drop of a hat, they should have a second, third or even fourth chance at recovering from a mistake. But a 5th, 7th or 12th chance? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 5 times and I am a complete idiot. Just as chapters need to review their members’ performance, so too should the chapter be reviewed. Councils, Greek advisors and national fraternities all share in this responsibility. And when chapters are found to be lacking, over and over again – they must be terminated. Sounds too mean? Oh well, most of the time it is for their members’ own good. I remember as a young chapter advisor hearing a sophomore leader of a chapter express more wisdom about brotherhood than I had ever heard before. The discussion was about if the chapter should allow the treasurer to continue in his position. He had done the best job that anyone could ever remember: he collected dues, paid bills on time, balanced the books - things the chapter hadn’t seen in years. But, his grades were consistently abysmal. How the university hadn’t dismissed him in the past three semesters for not breaking a 2.0 was a mystery. It finally got quiet as Mike spoke up: “Are we really being brotherly to Ray by allowing him to serve as our treasurer at the expense of his college career?” The chapter decided to give him a fourth chance and ignore one of the most poignant things I have ever heard about brotherhood. They continued to make choices fully detached from their values and in a few years later there were closed. But, members of the campus administration and the national organization knew how habitually bad the chapter was. The two sides played chicken with each other seeing who would eventually have to do something about this group. They did this for years while the chapter continued downward.
Real expectations need real punishments for failure. If chapters fail to perFor years I have suggested Merit Based Freshman Affiliation. Essentially, form and faisl to put in place the organizational behaviors we expect to chapters are all expected to perform to minimum standards for our comhelp them succeed, it is THEIR choice to leave our community. And to “leave” munity and those that don’t risk elimination. Those that far exceed our means to cease to operate; we must aggressively exterminate underground expectations are allowed to take first year students. Those that don’t can’t. organizations who claim to be fraternities. No actions to remove them It can be altered based on a campus already having deferred affiliation from campus can be too severe. These groups serve as negative examples – can’t take first year students as opposed to first semester students. For for groups at the crossroads between good and evil. “Take the low road. many NPHC and NALFO groups this isn’t a big issue at all. But for some It is more fun! And, it is easier too!” Some national organizations are doing campuses, it would eliminate half of their Greek residential population! more harm Better start performto the coming and stop giving Chapters are competitive by nature. Don’t ignore it, use it to push m u n i t y excuses. when they the entire community higher. Instead of passively allowing the close a chapI know campus ad- culture to focus competition on things that don’t exemplify our ter poorly. It ministrators and is especially values, change the conversation! student leaders who true when implement this at the there is a hiscommunity level. But, I have never seen a national fraternity or sorority tory of these aforementioned underground organizations claiming to be even contemplate it, actually, I can’t even imagine a group stepping forfraternities. Ignoring obvious problems in the near future because of anward and potentially limiting their income of both finances and talent ticipated challenges now is cowardice. by preventing a chapter from taking any new members. If a chapter is habitually underperforming or dangerous, how could they assure a parIt isn’t just the fraternities that allow this problem to exist. Greek advisors ent that their son or daughter will have a positive experience joining that rarely get the support needed to rid a campus from these organizations: group? Especially in his or her first year at school? Looks like a prime op“Let’s just close our eyes and hope they go away” is what some VPs must portunity for those at the top of these organizations to show that perforbe thinking. They aren’t willing to send letters to parents informing them mance matters. that their son (almost all of these groups are men’s organizations) is a member of an organization that has been banned from campus for their Another opportunity for a national fraternity or sorority for VBL is basic dangerous behavior. Nor do they enact new policies that would punish chapter accreditation. Why shouldn’t EVERY chapter meet the same stanstudents if found to be members of banned organizations. Or even endards of a colony seeking their charter? I think every chapter should go force those policies if they do exist. They aren’t even willing to put real through a charter certification every five years; if they fail, one year of prosupport toward student leaders trying to prevent them from participatbation should be enough time to get up to snuff. If they don’t… well, ing in campus activities, intramurals, or even co-programming with other they have chosen to turn their charter in because they have terminated Greek organizations. They just want to bury their heads in the sand. that “contract.”
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Like everything else I have mentioned, there are some great exceptions in our communities. By and large, campuses have underground former fraternities because they lack the leadership and will that is needed to remove them. How to get rid of them isn’t a mystery, there is already a plan in place that has proven to be successful. Allison Swick-Duttine at Plattsburgh State University is one great example of doing just this at a public school. Private schools have the ability to do this with nothing more than the stroke of a pen. Worst of all, these groups are the ones most likely to create a tragedy. Someone is more likely to die in one of these groups that we would rather ignore. Shame on us all. V. Grow As we rid the garden of weeds, we create a more fertile ground to plant anew. We need to aggressively bring new fraternal products to our market. Imagine getting rid of the bottom 10% of organizations and replacing them with groups better than your top 10%! Don’t just look to expand the IFC and Panhellenic, look at which of the Divine Nine can be added. Find niche markets and encourage the growth of Asian, Latino and other culturally based groups. Help students of color find their place in existing groups as well as creating new possibilities for them. Diversification of a product line makes it more exciting!
Many are afraid that bringing in competition will kill small chapters. It doesn’t. Only one thing kills small chapters: small chapters not doing their job, not meeting standards, not performing, and not recruiting. No matter how much you WANT them to succeed, these chapters have to do it on their own. Protecting them from the competition doesn’t help - it hurts them. They become dependant upon that help and won’t fix the deficiencies that put them in a hole.The fear of killing smaller chapter’s growth potential has been an excuse used to prevent far too many men and women from having a Greek experience because they can’t start a new chapter. Why is numeric equality so important anyway? I’ve heard from both fraternities and sororities that a chapter isn’t able to be “competitive” unless it is close in size to the other chapters in its community. Why? Aren’t there men and women on campus who might benefit more from a smaller chapter and thus join them rather than avoiding a large chapter? “Smaller” is a relative term anyway. Isn’t it possible that the basic definition of “competitive” might be wrong? Can a small company remain true to its mission and values and be much smaller than their competition? Can Apple stay competitive when it has only 5% of the market compared to Dell’s 30%? We have to stop the fear of competition and embrace it, but, that doesn’t mean we go to the wild-west extreme that many in the NIC want; campuses should put reasonable limits on pace of growth. Tending a garden takes deliberate acts. Plant in areas that have room for growth and weed to create even more space. An aggressive but realistic campus plan created in conjunction with student leadership is the best answer. Planning out the growth will also limit the likelihood of someone just showing up in your garden and planting a flag. Conclusion At first glance, this article may have seemed more like a Dennis Miller-style rant than an exploration of Value Based Leadership in our Greek world. My goal is to start conversations that will analyze the foundations of our thought and practices. Instead of just being offended by my criticisms, I challenge you to do that which is more difficult. Move past personal defensiveness and focus on the opportunities that stand in front of us. I ask you to debate me with your ideas and to encourage others to bring theirs to the table too. I don’t have all the answers. I believe that truth comes out of the debate of ideas. Let’s commit ourselves, as Greek leaders, to seek that truth through honest debate. Most importantly, let us ACT, and do it boldly! Let us miss fewer of the chances to advance the cause of fraternity and sorority through inaction than we did last year.
if a chapter is protected from the results that should come from their mistakes they will make them over and over again.
about the author DAVID STOLLMAN is the cofounder and President of CAMPUSPEAK, Inc. He is the creator of Recruitment Boot Camp, a program that has taught thousands of Greeks to recruit more and higher quality new members. David has lectured on over 450 campuses across the country bringing an inspiring challenge to live by our true values- Buy In or GET OUT! He is a frequent keynote speaker at MGCA and many other conferences. David lives in New York City with his wife Melissa and is a loyal fan of his University of Maryland Terrapins.
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aspire. So, the connection between individual and organizational values and the congruence that should exist between the values we espouse and the actions we take should be a very visible representation of who we are; however, the reality is that many of us as individuals and collectively in organizations are not aligning our values with the actions.
Aligning Individual and Organizational Values with Action: A Challenge for Fraternity and Sorority Leaders by Dan Bureau email@example.com For me, it makes sense that the conversation about affirming fraternal values would be a natural one for most of us: we have been taught a range of values from our families, schools, religious institutions, high school clubs and organizations, peers and other groups. While we may still be defining our own values, society has certainly helped us understand broader issues of “right” and “wrong”: providing the parameters which outline how we should live as members of societies in North America (I acknowledge broader global values that could be applied across cultures, but the scope of this article is confined to countries in which social, culturally, and professionally based undergraduate fraternal organizations tend to be most prevalent). Each of us has an idea of what our own values are, how they are congruent with society’s values and how we are to act when dealing with others. With this in mind, the idea of aligning our own individual values with those espoused by fraternities and sororities makes sense. Our organizations were founded with some common ideal in mind, often articulating a mission, purpose and widely held values that guide how we should function. Consider the following organization’s stated values: Scholarship, service and sisterhood. // Sigma Gamma Rho We commit to promote the values of simplicity, integrity, circumspection, tolerance, generosity, personal dignity, and love. Our lives are to be living symbols of what we hold in common. // Alpha Omicron Pi Scholarship, respect for all culture, community service, and the advancement and fair treatment of Latinos // Lambda Theta Phi The promotion of friendship, diffusion of liberal culture, development of character and advancement of justice // Delta Upsilon
Most of these values have been espoused since our founding. Arguments can be made that while times may have changed since many groups were founded (time changes quickly, so even those founded in the last 20 years have changed in some ways), the values we espoused then are still relevant today. If they are not, then we have significant work to do to find a role in society (that is a whole other article). So, we have individual values that are influenced by the people who have raised us, the institutions with which we have interacted, and our collective society. We have chosen to join organizations that have widely espoused values on our websites, in our marketing materials, and in the very meaningful rituals in which we have chosen to participate. We have made a choice to dedicate ourselves to an organization bigger than us and one that oftentimes reflects the appropriate values of not only us as individuals but to which college students may
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Consider some of the basic societal values and how fraternity and sorority members fail to live up to these norms: “Do unto others as they would do unto you” This is one of the simplest axioms of our society. Basically, unless you are ok with getting treated some way, don’t do it to someone else. Consider hazing: some of the activities we do are so contrary to how we would want to be treated that I cannot even imagine anyone tolerating the activity under other circumstances in a different context. Why is it that we would tolerate it to gain membership in an organization? “Do the right thing” This is something we’re often taught when challenged with some of our greatest dilemmas. It may be finding a lost wallet or turning yourself in when Johnny was blamed for something in grammar school that you actually did. The “right thing” may be subjective in some cases, but we should have an understanding of what is widely accepted as “right”. In the terms of fraternities and sororities, I think about how some members may use test files to cheat for exam preparation or how some members may cover up for a member who has violated the campus code of conduct or fraternity/sorority policies. “Respect others” Plain and simple, we have to respect others’ opinions and differences. We don’t have to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” but we have to not be disrespectful. I have seen my fair share of instances where fraternity and sorority members were disrespectful to the values of their larger campus. For example, why would anyone think it is ok to host a theme party that mocks particular populations? “Ghetto Fabulous”,“South of the Border” and “Pimps and Hoes” are just some of the party themes that reflect a complete lack of respect from fraternity and sorority members toward other populations. So what happens? Why is it that some students (there are many who are not the problem and you know if you are a part of the problem or not) completely disregard basic societal and individual values when they come to college and join a fraternity or sorority? I believe it is for three rea-
sons: they do not see the connection between values and the college experience, they have not been challenged to make the connection, and they do not know how to make the connection. The remainder of this article deals with these three issues as well as why such alignment is important to the future preservation of fraternities and sororities. Strategies to support values and action alignment are provided. Why the connection is not made Figure one provides a model reflecting the gap for persons who do not connect their values base to their college and fraternity and sorority experience. For the sake of this article, I am most concerned with the fraternity and sorority experience, but the college connection must first be explained. Many people view college as “putting off the real world”. What we do in college is often trivialized as “postponing reality”. We oftentimes view college as an experience without the consequences: we can make mistakes and be easily forgiven. This is different from when our parents held us accountable or how society holds criminals accountable. My perception of “putting off the real world” as a widely held philosophy of college students is evident in a few actions of college students I have seen during my 10 years working with fraternity and sorority members: talking openly about visiting bars with fake identification and not accepting responsibility for meeting their financial responsibilities are two examples. In society, neither behavior is deemed responsible and has clear ramifications (can you imagine if I just decided I did not want to pay rent in my apartment this month?), however, I have seen many college students say that this is totally acceptable; they should be quickly forgiven and the indiscretion should be forgotten. This just would not fly if we approached college and the fraternity and sorority as it needs to be approached: practice for the real world, not a deferment of real world responsibility. family fraternity institutions [religious, clubs, orgs.]
Figure One // Model indicating how students either consciously or unconsciously separate their existing values from their college and fraternity/sorority experience resulting in a lack of congruence between individual values and actions while in college or through their fraternity/sorority. This approach results in members “putting off” the development of lifelong values due to perceptions of a lack of accountability to live values or the deferment of “growing up” until college is done.
This postponement of responsibility is a core reason why students often fail to align individual and organizational values systems with their actions. I have addressed this from a larger college issue, but now need to frame this from specifically a fraternity and sorority life issue. The problem is that many students have not been challenged to better align their values and actions, but is this something with which we should really be concerned? Why is it particularly important for fraternity and sorority members to make this connection more than other students? So why is this important?
A failure to align accepted societal values with our actions as fraternity and sorority members is important for many reasons. First, not following through on individual and organizational values undermines our credibility. We’re often concerned that people do not like us (parents, university administration, the media, etc.). They would be less concerned if our actions were socially responsible. If we were more concerned with congruence between our espoused mission and values (which reads as if it were to be the most important and developmental experience in a person’s life) then people would have more confidence in us, respect us more, and allow their son or daughter to join our organizations without any hesitation. Second, it helps us meet our responsibility to develop our members. Our organizations declare a dedication to developing the “whole student”. It is a powerful niche we possess that we can provide a onestop shop for essential learning experiences in college. Figure Two conceptualizes an individual who integrates college and fraternity and sorority into their model of values development. College and fraternity/sorority creates synergy with other institutions who have educated the student on values development. When individuals understand that these experiences can reinforce and challenge existing values systems and may shape their future values, they are more prone to view their fraternity/sorority membership as an experience that has helped them grow.
Our future position in a dynamic “marketplace” depends on a focus on values.
Third, aligning our values and actions could improve many of the ills we have in the fraternity and sorority community. If we are clear on our values, then we would not subject persons to hazing activities. Considering values in all that we do may help us intervene when a member has misused alcohol (because he/she is your brother/sister you should not allow them to abuse alcohol and put themselves in jeopardy). If we were honestly about consideration for others, we would not have members who become inactive or fail to pay bills. If we were really about helping the community, our members would never question showing up for service or philanthropic activities. All of the problems we have can be solved by gaining clarity on our values. Finally, our future position in a dynamic “marketplace” depends on a focus on values. There are lots of opportunities for students to become meaningfully involved on campus: service organizations, leadership centers, and academic honor societies are just some of the ways students get receive our product, sometimes in a more meaningful way (you never hear about someone having to drink to excess in order to reap the personal and professional benefits of a campus leadership center). In addition, campuses have become a whole lot smarter. In an effort to provide an opportunity to connect across similar values and academic pursuits (two things important to us as fraternity and sorority members) they have created learning communities. These are important experiences that help students make friends, create connections for jobs and get involved in a meaningful way in campus life (all
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the things we say we are about). The values niche is something we can really hold on to. Few other campus opportunities allow individuals to explore their values in a wellrounded group of individuals committed to having a good time while they develop leadership skills, engage in service and philanthropy, support each other academically, and create a network of meaningful relationships that can help us in all facets of our lives. If we strengthen the values niche, then we can regain our position as an essential involvement opportunity and become more than a social outlet for college students who wish to party all through college. I believe if we do not adopt a values niche, then we may finally see the extinction of fraternities and sororities on college campuses or at least we will be so pushed to the margins of relevance that people just will not want to join us (or the wrong people will be the only ones who seek to join us).
Figure Two // Model indicating how college and fraternity/sorority affiliation becomes a part of how an individual conceptualizes her/his development of values when they connect college and fraternity/sorority in their perception of how values are created, strengthened and nurtured.
How do we do this? Challenging students to live their individual values in the context of college and their fraternity and sorority experience continues to be a foremost challenge for those of us who care about students and the fraternal movement. Efforts to better align espoused and enacted values have come to the forefront in the past five years (it has been going on for decades, but in my 10 years, I have seen this ebb and flow
hard to do. We have to be intentional about making this happen. Some approaches may be to host discussion groups at an upcoming chapter meeting that allow members to review the espoused mission and values of your organization and brainstorm how you currently live these virtues and how you could improve your actions both as individuals and as an organization. I believe that the change effort must start here with each individual understanding their collective responsibility. • Create accountability systems: as mentioned, students oftentimes dismiss college as their chance to make mistakes and not be held accountable. There is no rationale in continuing this cycle other than to perpetuate the mediocrity of those who will enter into society and serve our world. There is HIGH value in holding people accountable because it teaches them powerful lessons. My own experience making mistakes during my first-year in college and then being held accountable through the university discipline system helped me become a better community member at the University of New Hampshire and forced me to realize that actions have consequences. In all fairness, we cannot enact accountability before we get people to understand why we are going to hold them accountable. With this in mind, it is essential to first make the case as to why we should live our values and then reinforce that a failure to do so will result in some process that will address the maligned behavior. Any accountability process should be educational in nature; therefore, we should approach our work with violators from a perspective that they can learn and be reformed. • Improve recruitment and intake processes to help potential members and aspirants understand the expectations of membership: people will act out in organizations as they are expected to act out. It is a basic selffulfilling prophecy concept. When we expect people to act one way, they will probably deliver. People who join our organizations expect to be able to live without boundaries and experience college to the fullest. The problem is living college to the fullest does not equal jeopardizing individual and organizational values. If we can be clearer in all recruitment and intake processes that our organizations help them take existing values, practice them in our fraternity/sorority and improve upon said values, then we will recruit more values-aligned members. Conclusion You may be thinking: “I am not the problem. This guy’s making generalizations about Greek Life that are unfair”. Touché. You are partially correct. YOU may be clear on the alignment between actions and values. If you read this far, you have an interest in bettering yourself in the context of your fraternity or sorority. However, I have seen all too often the problems with our organizations. I have seen phenomenal women and men in fraternities and sororities become disengaged because we failed to do what we say we would do for them. I have seen leaders throw their arms up because of the problem members in their chapter. So, while you may not be the problem, you probably know someone who is.
while you may not be the problem, you probably know someone who is. with significant attention over the course of the last five years) (Bureau, 2007; Bureau, Schendel, Veldkamp, 2006; Franklin Square Group, 2003). But the efforts have to begin beyond the best and brightest students in our fraternal organizations. The concept of aligning values and actions has to reach those chapter members who often are the problem: persons who are concerned with fraternal values must be ready to challenge members, because oftentimes they have not been asked to find congruence between their existing individual values and their actions as a member of the fraternity or sorority. This challenge begs the question: how can we help all of our members better align their values and actions? Three strategies appear to be essential: • Honest and open discussion: as persons who care about the fraternal movement, we are collectively afraid of how to talk about values. It is 012 // connections // 2008.spring
I believe I have made a case for how our values and actions are often misaligned and why it is important to address this lack of congruence. Three strategies were presented in order to help you as a reader work to improve values and action congruence. Hopefully you will take this information and find a way to help others better align their individual and organizational values and actions.
ocrates put it very well years ago when he said,“The unexamined life is not worth living.” The problem is, how do you examine your life? What criteria do you use? What’s the process? Because our founders were students of both philosophy and theology, they understood the nature of the Socratic statement. And, that is why they gave us the Ritual. When we think of ritual, we tend to think of a formal ceremony like a wedding, a funeral, a baptism or, in the case of a fraternity, the initiation ceremony and the chapter meeting. These and many like them are formal rituals. However, we tend to take for granted other rituals of an informal nature: the way we get up in the morning, the way we prepare for class or work, the way we party and socialize. These become customs, and customs are based on rituals.
To initiate means to begin, and that is precisely what our initiation ritual is: an opportunity to begin a life of both personal and spiritual development. Ritual equals empowerment. In the development of a chapter, whether through membership selection or risk management, the Ritual is the key for empowering the officers and individual members. These two words – Ritual and Empowerment – should be synonymous is the Ritual is properly understood and used.
In the case of the undergraduate chapter, we need to evaluate how we use the Ritual. Most fraternity men and women, graduates as well as undergraduates, become very self-conscious when the Fraternity Ritual is used “out of context.” For example, when the Ritual is used in an informal discussion, a feeling of awkwardness and uncertainty exists among the members. The purpose of this essay is to help undergraduates become aware of the nature of the Ritual and how it ought to be used in an informal and personal way. We attempt to answer three fundamental questions: (1) How can we motivate our fraternity members to seriously study the Ritual? (2) How can we motivate our fraternity members to seriously discuss the Ritual? (3) How can we motivate the undergraduate chapter to seriously perform the Ritual? Inevitably, the members who get the most out of the Ritual are those who perform it.
The chapter meeting is the best example of how the principle of empowerment should work. When you study the structure of the chapter meeting, you immediately see the wisdom of our founders and how they understood the process of self-examination. The meeting is divided into three basic segments. First, the gathering is to serve as a regular reminder of our obligations, purpose, and ideals. Second, the business of the chapter is transacted. Third, brotherhood/
Leading Through Ritual by Edward M. King
The Fraternity Ritual is important because it deals with the moral problems of every man and woman. It attempts to explain our two fundamental relationships: our relationship with ourselves and our relationships with others. We must do a better job of explaining these relationships in: (a) the pledge or membership development program, (b) the pre-initiation program, and (c) the post-initiation program. Ultimately, by better understanding the Ritual we should do a better job of living it. A good place to promote understanding is at a chapter workshop or retreat. Divide the members into small groups (six members to a group) and discuss the following four questions: (1) How did I feel during my initiation? (2)How do I feel when I am participating in or observing the initiation? (3) What part of the initiation is most significant to me and why? (4) What have I learned from the Ritual that I can use in my daily life? End the discussion by having a member recite the Charge. Then have each member in the small group discuss the thought in the Charge that means the most to them and why. This process can set an ideal tone for a productive workshop. All fraternal rituals have three common elements: they tell a story, provide a set of virtues (values) and ask for a lifelong commitment. In his book Philemon’s Problem, James Burtchaell tells us that “It is through ritual that we bring purpose into our lives. Our rituals provide us with intense moments of meaning, opportunities to display the powerfully operative forces that shape the way we live.”
Aligning Individual and Organizational Values with Action: A Challenge for Fraternity and Sorority Leaders // References Alpha Omicron Pi (date unknown). A promise to live our values. Retrieved January 3, 2008 from http://www.alphaomicronpi.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=A_Promise_to_Live_Our_Values&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay. cfm&TPLID=34&ContentID=6069 Bureau, D. (2007). Barriers to greatness: Using the concept of fraternal relevancy to create urgency for change. Association of Fraternity Advisors Perspectives. 8-11. Bureau, D., Schendel, K. & Veldkamp, S. (2006, Summer). Values and action congruence. Association of Fraternity Advisors Perspectives.16-17. Delta Upsilon (date unknown). Mission statement. Retrieved January 3, 2008 from http://deltau.org/default.aspx?action= Content&ContentId=34 Frankin Square Group (2003). A call for values congruence. Retrieved January 4, 2008 from http://www.fraternityadvisors.org/ uploads/PublicDocuments/CallforValuesCongruence.pdf New York Brothers of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Incorporated (date unknown). Earthquake disaster relief press release. Retrieved January 3, 2008 from http://nylambdas.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=26&Itemid=68 Sigma Gamma Rho (date unknown). Homepage. Retrieved January 3, 2008 from http://www.sgrho1922.org/
sisterhood and fraternalism are promoted. What happens at the end of the chapter meeting truly defines who we are. This is the time when we share the joy and pain of our daily life, which is essentially the bonding process. This is the time when we embrace each other. If this sharing and bonding does not occur in the chapter meeting, then it is highly unlikely that is will occur outside of the meeting. The National Interfraternity Commission on Values and Ethics developed the following statement in 1191 entitled We are Fraternity. “We, as fraternity, believe in the development of the human spirit. The primary process by which the human spirit is developed is through the relationships we have with one another, ourselves, and God. These relationships are the essence of our identity. It is through fraternity that we know who we are. The absence of positive relationships, not the absence of things and events, is a primary source of unhappiness.” “The Fraternity is essentially making one statement; We believe in each other. It is through the values expressed in our ritual that we share this belief. It is through our actions that we exemplify this belief.” “As a system of values, our ritual provides us with a foundation for the art of living.” This, brothers and sisters, is why we must take every opportunity to Lead through the Ritual.
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As fraternity and sorority leaders we may feel like we are constantly fighting an uphill battle. We get a bad rap from the media and popular culture; movies and TV shows too often portray the negative stereotype. These portrayals then prompt new students who are looking for those very stereotypes to join our organizations in droves, and often drives away those who are looking for something more substantial. Leaders then struggle to raise standards and live up to the values upon which our organizations were founded, when many members want only the party. This creates a vicious cycle, which is difficult to break. We certainly can and should be organizations in which members have fun while also serving the community and becoming better citizens and leaders. We can create and sustain this type of organization only through examining our relevance.
The Role of by Tracy Maxwell
in Fraternal Relevance
Are fraternities and sororities relevant to modern society? What do we offer that students can’t get somewhere else? Do we enhance the learning community, or detract from it? These are important questions to ask as leaders, and ones that should be raised with members and advisors as well. We ask a great deal of our members in terms of time and financial commitment. What are we giving them in return to better prepare them for college and life? Nothing detracts from our relevance more than hazing. Though alcohol abuse is the most pervasive problem facing college campuses, it extends far beyond fraternities and sororities, permeating the campus culture. Hazing extends beyond fraternities and sororities as well – with athletes being among the worst perpetrators – yet it is often associated almost solely with fraternities and sororities. That puts us in the best position to do something about it, since we are also the most educated about hazing and its dangers. Eighty-nine Greek students have died from hazing/pledging/rushing-related incidents since 1970. No one should ever die from an activity required of them to become a member of a leadership organization. Bullying has gotten a great deal of attention with the rise in school shootings over the past decade. Hazing is just bullying grown up, and in an organized setting. It is one of the “traditions” that is impeding our relevance to today’s students. There are many defenses of hazing offered by those who tout the benefits, but even the perception that hazing persists in our organizations is keeping leaders and other potentially great members from joining. We might not be able to do anything about the stereotypes portrayed in the media, but we can stop hazing in our chapters, in our communities and on our campuses. While stopping hazing may seem like a daunting task, the list below provides some simple strategies that can get you and your governing council started in addressing hazing within your community. Policy Examine campus and council anti-hazing policies for needed updates. Make sure each chapter, member and potential member has a copy every year. Communicate clearly the council’s stance on hazing and ask members to sign the policy annually to signify their compliance and agreement.
about the author Tracy Maxwell is the Executive Director of a new non-profit organization called HazingPrevention.Org. To download information about becoming a sponsoring council of National Hazing Prevention Week, go here and click on the link on the right to download the form: hazingprevention.org/sponsors
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Education Educate potential members about hazing during recruitment – share information with them about community service hours, award winners and even judicial issues such as alcohol and hazing violations for which chapters have been found guilty. Sponsor at least one educational program about hazing each year. Sign on as a sponsor of HazingPrevention.Org and receive materials to help you plan for National Hazing Prevention Week. Invite athletes and other organizations to participate in anti-hazing programming you are already doing. At best, hazing wastes the time of our members with meaningless tasks and pointless memorization exercises that detract from their studies; at worst, it puts them in dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations. Many other required activities fall somewhere inbetween these two scenarios. In all cases, hazing (both the planning and execution) takes time that could be better spent serving the community or teaching leadership, two core values of every fraternal organization in existence. As prominent leaders on your campus, it is your duty to think about these issues, and find ways that you can increase the relevance of fraternities and sororities. There are some simple things you can do in the list above. The real challenge, however, is to think beyond this list and how you can leave a legacy by standing up to one of the greatest threats to fraternal relevance, and therefore our very existence.
Leadership empowers, motivates and organizes people to achieve a common objective. It represents service to people and a vision for the future. It energizes people to turn a vision into reality; transforms followers into leaders; who in turn, transform society. It is both action and being. It is more than a title, it is action! It is service that produces servants and vision that produces visionaries. People get the “title” of leader daily. It’s easy to be elected, selected and/or volunteer, but it is much more difficult to be a “servant leader” who leads with courage and integrity. Here is where your fraternity’s or sorority’s core values, principles and beliefs come into play; they are the basis for the leadership choices we make everyday. I will list a few “values” below. At the end of this list, I will add more values. Your “homework assignment” is to identify the five values that are most important in your life and how they impact you as a leader.
What Role Do Your Values Play In Leadership? by Steve Birdine
Some values to consider: Fidelity / Be faithful to family, friends Friendship / Show preference for intimate relationships and mutual caring Responsibility / Demonstrate ethical accountability for decisions and actions Cooperation / Work and act toward a common end or group purpose Pursuit of Excellence / Develop and maintain a high degree of competence Altruism / Regard highly the interests of others; service to others Civic Duty / Demonstrate social consciousness and a commitment to the public good Diversity / Appreciate differences in people, ideas and situations Humility / Demonstrate modesty in behavior, attitude and spirit Control / Exercise authority over others/situations Fame / Seek renown or acclaim for accomplishments Influence / Possess the ability to change attitudes or actions of other people Loyalty / Be steadfast in allegiance to a person, ideal or custom Risk-Taking / Aspire to the difficult, challenging; take calculated chances Security / Be free from fear, danger, or risk; to exist in a stable environment Status / Impress or gain the respect of others Stewardship / Giving one’s talents and resources to high principles, causes and purposes Service / Be involved in efforts to help others without the motive of personal gain Spiritual Faith / Trust in a supreme being Kindness / Possess a friendly, generous understanding toward human nature Self Awareness / Seek wholeness and understanding of one’s feelings and actions Knowledge / Engage in the pursuit of scholarship, truth and understanding Trustworthiness / Fulfill commitments and keep promises Wealth / Accumulate material possessions Other values for consideration include aesthetics, belonging, competition, conformity, creative expression, health, independence, pleasure, recognition, simplicity, variety, etc. After reviewing this list, ask yourself a few questions: 1 // Which five values are most important to you? Which are most important to your organization? 2 // How do these values impact what your organization does and how things get done? An organizational dialogue on core values is essential if your group is to maximize its full potential. Leadership is not an easy concept to grasp. There are a multitude of definitions and a number of ways to go about the business of leading. However, one thing is certain: developing an organizational core set of values is key and instrumental in nurturing an organization that continues to evolve, makes a positive contribution to its community and positively develops its membership. Again, what are your core values and how do they impact what you do and how you do it? Keys To Motivating People To Action! Lead with high energy and boundless enthusiasm Give people a sense of purpose and direction Plan for success. Success is a prime motivator. Nobody wants to be associated with failure Dish out plenty of praise and encouragement Create opportunities for others to shine Give people the assurance that their time and talents are needed and appreciated Demonstrate faith and confidence in people’s abilities Encourage achievable tasks Give people a sense of history and hope Develop a collective vision for the future Stay Strong! Stay Positive!
about the author Steve Birdine is the Founder/ President/CEO of Affirmations In Action! “A Catalyst For Change”. He can be contacted at: Sbirdine1@aol.com Stevebirdine.com or 317.590.6484.
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WHAT IS REAL LEADERSHIP? by Gary Sailes, Ph.D., // Indiana University
Several years ago a former student from Indiana University arranged for me to give a keynote address to an eclectic group of students at a small college in the midwest during their annual leadership conference. The former student was working in Student Affairs at his new school. He enjoyed the leadership class I taught at IU and thought my message would be beneficial to his new charges. I remember this particular group of students well because it was one of the most diverse groups I had spoken to in years. There was representation from many aspects of human differences: age, gender, race, nationality, profession, etc.. It was great to see so many different people come together for a common interest, to become better leaders. During my keynote, I queried the audience about the following question, “What is the number one pre-requisite to becoming a successful leader?” I usually receive a plethora of responses all of which turn out to be incorrect. I receive so many incorrect answers that I turn it into a competitive game. I tell the audience that I will buy lunch for the first person and a friend to answer the question correctly. I have yet to buy that lunch. The answer, as it turns out, was so simple that it escaped reason and common sense. The answer was “The desire to lead!” When I tell my audiences the answer, there usually follows a response in unison like “Ohhhh! Yea, that makes sense!” However, this keynote address will forever remain a significant memory in my mind because I learned something very valuable that day that has forever changed my thinking about leadership. After my keynote address, an elderly lady approached me and said, “Dr. Sailes, I have to respectfully disagree with your belief that the desire to lead is the single most important pre-requisite to become a successful leader.” Quite naturally, this comment got my attention. I am always excited to learn new information so I was anxious to find out what this woman had to say. She firmly believed and said, “The single most important pre-requisite for a successful leader is the desire to serve!” At that moment, I had what Dr. Phil calls “a defining moment!” My response was “Ohhhh! Yea, that makes sense!” Have you ever bought a new item and noticed that item everywhere you went in public? For example, in 1992, I bought a new Honda. For almost six months, I noticed Hondas on the road and almost nothing else. Accordingly, whenever I was reading or watching something on leadership, the word “service” just kept popping up everywhere. Actually it didn’t, I just noticed it more. Two examples that stood out are from Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates. During one of her shows, Oprah said she did not set out to be so wealthy. All she wanted to do was to serve her audiences. Bill Gates reiterated those exact sentiments about his Microsoft empire, he wanted to provide a service to Americans and the world. In fact, both leaders are adamant about the fact that their wealth simply allows them to serve more people in a more profound way than the ordinary individual. The common significance here is these two great leaders indicated that “The desire to serve” was the foundation for their success. This is very different from the notion of the desire to lead, the desire to have power, the desire to change people’s lives, and etc.. In fact, I feel that real power, change, significance and influence over people comes from the sincere heart felt desire to serve our fellow man, the updated answer to my keynote question about leadership’s 1st pre-requisite. 018 // connections // 2008.spring
Thank you for using the Check Point Program in The Leadership Institute Snip-Its series! These programs are used in conjunction with our already existing curriculum to provide you with additional resources for learning. Check Point Every single organization has a purpose and its members are often asked the question: “Who are you and what do you do?” An organization is most successful and innovative when its members have a clear understanding of that purpose. Why was your organization formed? What are your values and how do they align with the organization you are a part of? Are you and your members aware of your purpose? More importantly, are you upholding these values that are the very reason WHY your organization exists?
Instructions Note: It is imperative that the facilitator create a safe and open environment so participants feel that they can speak freely. You can do this by stating that, for this program, there will be no judgment of the participants’ answers. Communicate that participants should speak freely and without reservation. You can also take a minute to engage participants in a conversation about what to expect during the program, highlighting the expectation that they are open and honest with their answers without fear. Examining values can be a little ambiguous, so remember, there are no right or wrong answers. • Begin by having one of the participants read the values statement you have selected out loud. • Present the activity by saying something like: “How do we align our actions with the values of the organization? Are we really upholding the values we say that we embrace? If so, how? If not, how do we go about changing that?” • One by one, present some or all of the discussion questions. • Since everyone learns differently, you will want to ask some questions in an open forum, have some answered using written reflection and then group sharing, and have others answered using partner or small group sharing. • If your organization is over 50 people, it might be better to break the group in half. In this model, you should do the same activity with two different groups and two different facilitators. Feel free to have the groups come back together in one large group to share what they have learned. • If your organization is over 100 people, break the whole group into three smaller groups and follow the instructions in the statement above.
the check point program from the Leadership Institute
The following activity provides your members with an opportunity to thoroughly examine your values and reflect on what they mean and how you are (or are not) upholding them. This activity is one that you can do with a small or large group, at any time. It is also one that you can revisit as a nice check point for your members each month, semester, or year. Get Started Room Set-Up: • The room should be a set up in a comfortable way. We recommend sitting on the floor or with desks in a semi-circle. Materials Needed: • A copy of the values statement you are examining for each participant. OR • A copy of the values statement you are examining projected on an overhead projector or poster board for all participants to see. • Paper and writing implements for each participant. Estimated Time: You should allot approximately 10-15 minutes per discussion question and approximately 5 minutes for program introduction. Depending on how many questions you choose to ask, your program can last anywhere between 20 and 90 minutes, it is your call! Goal: The goal of this workshop is to critically examine organizational values. Learning Objectives: At the end of this program, the learner will… • Examine the values of their organization. • Gain a deeper understanding about how those values apply to them as an individual. • Think critically about the actions of their organization and its members as they apply to these values.
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The Program Note: We have used the Purpose of the Alpha Gamma Delta Fraternity as an example for you. If you are a part of a different organization, simply plug in your creed, purpose, pledge, or values statement. The Alpha Gamma Delta Purpose To gain understanding that wisdom may be vouchsafed to me. To develop and prize health and vigor of body. To cultivate acquaintance with many whom I meet. To cherish friendships with but a chosen few and to study the perfecting of those friendships. To welcome the opportunity of contributing to the world’s work in the community where I am placed because of the joy of service thereby bestowed and the talent of leadership multiplied. To honor my home, my country, my religious faith. To hold truth inviolable, sincerity essential, kindness invaluable. To covet beauty in environment, manner, word and thought. To possess high ideals and to attain somewhat unto them. This shall be my purpose that those who know me may esteem Alpha Gamma Delta for her attainments, revere her for her purposes and love her for her Womanhood. Discussion Questions: • What type of member do you see described here? • What are we currently doing to uphold these values? • What are some current practices that we need to remove that are not in alignment with these values? • What are some things we can ask of potential new members to determine whether or not they meet these characteristics? • What are some ways that we can incorporate our values in our day to day operations as a chapter? • What do these values mean to you as an individual?
Wrap-Up When? • It is important that you allow conversation to continue if it is valuable, while still respecting the time of the participants. For example, if you have allotted 30 minutes for the program, wrap up should begin 25 minutes into the program. If participants communicate a desire to continue for longer than 30 minutes, have the group vote to extend the time by 10 minutes. How? • When wrapping up a program, it is generally good practice to briefly review what has been discussed during the program. • Take some time to follow up on action items that may have come up during the conversation. For example, maybe your group has discovered that your newest members are not familiar with how the purpose of your organization applies to them. During the wrap up, it would be helpful to then say something like “The New Member Educator will work with the New Member Advisor to incorporate this type of education into the New Member Program. They will present their plans to the rest of the group in two weeks.” Evaluation: • Evaluation is a key component of program delivery and can be quite simple. If you wish, have participants take out a piece of paper and answer the following questions: − What was your favorite part of the program? − What was your least favorite part of the program? − What suggestions do you have for improving this program? − Do you have any other comments? This program is brought to you by the Leadership Institute Women with Purpose, Inc. The Leadership Institute’s mission is to provide educational programming for the development and enhancement of leadership skills of women. We are committed to educating and inspiring women by offering opportunities and resources for personal growth through which they will be better prepared as leaders in their lifelong endeavors. For more information on the products and services at the Leadership Institute please contact us: E: firstname.lastname@example.org P: 1-888-TLI-WWP1 W: www.theleadershipinstitute-wwp.org
Facilitation 411 features group activities and highlights of useful curriculum that you can add to your facilitator binder. This is a way for you to get useful samples of curriculum from some of the leading educators and facilitators in our field. Do this activity this week with your council or chapter, discuss and learn together. Each issue will have a new and useful activity that you can add to your file! If you would like to contribute feature curriculum, please email email@example.com.
Council and Chapter Leaders...We can help you keep in touch with your alums...and we’re affordable! Your source for •Newsletters •Annual Campaigns ...and •Event Promotion
www.couragecommunications.com more! firstname.lastname@example.org 847.571.8517 MGCA // 021
BUSTED. Stupid Things that You Have Done Lately
DU Recruitment Event Under Investigation: Books “hardcore midget wrestling group” “Northwestern’s chapter of Delta Upsilon fraternity may face disciplinary action from the university after hiring an entertainment group, which bills itself as the “one and only hardcore midget wrestling company”, to perform at a recruitment event…” “At a…event…, the Half Pint Brawlers performed a show, during which they simulated sex, jumped off a ladder onto one another and stapled each other in the face, among other acts depicted in photographs and videos... In the videos, attendees cheered and chanted, urging the performers to ‘Hit him with a chair!’ and ‘Do it again!’’ Rakov, Abe. (2008, January 14). Rush Event Under Investigation. The Daily Northwestern, Retrieved January 15, 2008, from http://media.www.dailynorthwestern.com/media/storage/paper853/news/2008/01/14/ Campus/Rush-Event.Under.Investigation-3151139.shtml
The specific theme of this issue of Connections is fraternal relevancy and values based leadership. While this type of event may occur at a local club or bar in some college towns, how does it connect with the principles that your fraternity or sorority has been built upon? The most ironic part of this whole scenario is that it allegedly occurred during a recruitment function. Believe it or not, this is the event that the recruitment chairman and recruitment committee believed would attract the highest number of quality “hardcore” members to the chapter. What’s that you say?: we are all social organizations and we must show potential members a good time to give them a true picture of what we are about and you need to know how they handle themselves socially? Let’s snap out of it folks; if we are using parties and events such as “Hardcore Midget Wrestling” as our tools for recruitment, what are we saying about ourselves, what it is that we value and who we want to join our organizations? We are going to get the type of members that expect events like this to be the sum total of their fraternal experience, and these types of joiners are least likely to make positive contributions to the chapters. To top it all off, the videos of these events are likely going to end up on YouTube and Facebook… which is a whole new example of how to get Busted!
“PIKE faces lawsuit: Lodge owner accuses frat of $11K in damages” “Members of CSU’s ousted Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) fraternity are facing a potential $4.5 million lawsuit after what a property manager called a crazy weekend of partying and destruction that left his company in financial crisis.” “Over the next three days, the group Irvin refers to as “weekend terrorists,” dealt nearly $11,000 in damages to the hotel, the property manager said. Significant reports of damage include rooms trashed with vomit and broken glass, as well as three elevators with slashed paneling and scrawled with profanity.” “The alleged trail of destruction, however, may veer beyond physical damages. Western Seasons’ three-year management and rental contract with The Borders Lodge expired in early December and is currently undergoing negotiation with its Board of Directors. The PIKE incident has threatened the contract’s renewal, Irvin said, and his business would lose $4.5 million in income should a renewal fall through.” Estimated damage costs: $6933 – Repair/replacement for slashed elevator panels $3396 – Repair to front fender, bumper and headlights on one resident’s vehicle $442 – Repair to another resident’s side view mirror and antenna $49 – Cleaning charges $30 – Replacement for wall scone on the 3rd floor of lodge
And, speaking of FaceBook groups…
Thursday Night Drinking Club This group description reads: “This is primarily for members, friends and ladies of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity but open to anyone who makes Thursday their official drinking night!” This group has 152 members (as of 1/23/08) and also comes with a T-shirt. Thursday Night Drinking Club. FaceBook group. Information reitreived on January 23, 2008 from: http://colostate.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2221897258
We have to poke a little fun at this group since it is widely known and not-so-easily-mistaken-anymore that FaceBook/MySpace/Etc. groups are just not as private as we used to think they were. One must also be able to appreciate the T-shirt for its blatant and obvious ability to offend. Offensive and inappropriate T-shirts are old news… very old news. Unfortunately, one group member is not aware of this behavior faux pau and poses the question: “Is there anyway (sic) to get one of these shirts?”
Myers, E. (2008, January 22). PIKE faces lawsuit: Lodge owner accuses frat of $11K in damages. The Rocky Mountain Collegian. Retrieved January 23, 2008 from: http://www.collegian.com/media/storage/paper864/news/2008/01/22/News/PikeFaces.Potential.4.5.Million.Lawsuit-3160446.shtml
The groups we join, be they ‘real live’ organizations or online communities, is just one way that we illustrate ourselves to others. Another BIG one is the clothes we choose to wear. Wearing a shirt that illustrates the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity as a drinking club is not only incorrect, but offensive to others, whether they are a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, a fellow Greek, or any person in general.
Interestingly enough, this chapter has not been recognized by the University since 2005 due to ongoing behavioral problems, yet is still recognized by the national Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. When is enough… well, enough? So, who is the group Busted! in this situation, this group of collegians or the national fraternity? To most laymen, this fraternity is one of many at this university, and therefore is representing the Greek community as a whole. Whose responsibility is it to respond to this group of young men?
The goal of Busted! is to call attention to an event, situation, or practice that has actually occurred and utilize it as an experience that others can learn from.
Just as interesting and compelling is the FaceBook group that this group of young men has called: “The Only Real Frat Because We’re Off-Campus”. If you are curious and wondering what this group is all about, just read the description: “Goddamn, need we say any more? This is the only fraternity on/off this campus, and both Pikes and non-Pikes alike know that.” It has 57 members (as of 1/23/08).
It is commonly said that fraternities and sororities suffer from unfair stereotypes and are undervalued for our true purpose as values-based organizations. Unfortunately, some fraternity and sorority members commonly mock these stereotypes by behaving in ways that only solidify them in the minds of others. Busted! aims to confront these stupid decisions via direct confrontation. Actions such as these do nothing but reinforce the negative stereotypes of today’s fraternities and sororities. Embarrassed? Then knock it off.
Dear Experts: It seems like the media and everyone on my campus has negative stereotypes about fraternities and sororities… why does everyone always highlight the bad things Greeks do instead of the good? How can we improve our image?
ask the experts
Kristymarie Flores // Sigma Lambda gamma National Sorority, Inc. Kelly Jo Karnes // University of Iowa Robert A Marias // Kettering University Shelley Sutherland // Mid-American Greek Council Association Melissa William // Northern Illinois University Sarah Williamson // Texas Christian University
Dear Experts: What does Headquarters really do for us anyway? It seems like we just send them money and all they do is try to bust us!
Kelly Jo says: Well...first of all...the stupid things we do tend to be MUCH more interesting than some of the good things. So...we first need to stop our members from doing the dumb things...AS WELL AS get them to STOP posting the pictures of these idiots on FACEBOOK!! Maybe we should have a rule of thumb where before we make any decision...we have to stop for 10 minutes and ask the question...”Is this REALLY a good idea?” In terms of getting the positive PR out there...I am a firm believer that we should teach every single member of our chapter how to write a press release. Let’s inundate them with these press releases...they EVENTUALLY will have to pick up on something!! We just ASSUME that the newspaper or TV stations are just going to have a “6th sense” to know that our AWESOME philanthropy or community service project (YES... they ARE different) is occurring. They won’t know unless we tell them. Melissa says: If you are living by your values, then they should have nothing bad to point out! I would encourage you to arrange a meeting with the campus editor and find out how to get in the paper in a positive way. At NIU, we have worked out a deal with the campus newspaper to have a weekly greek Beat. Any greek chapter can submit an article.
Robert says: The question is, “what have you done for Headquarters lately?” Most Headquarters are very helpful if you ask. You should communicate with them even when you are not dealing with judicial boards and the local authorities. Just like your campus Greek Life Office, it’s up to you to make the most of your opportunities and build a strong relationship with the staff at Headquarters. Try it, it is a lot easier than you might think! Shelley says: 1 / If the headquarters isn’t too far away, plan a trip to visit. Plan means let them know who and how many are coming and that your goal is for the members to leave with the understanding of what the Htq does do for its chapters. Schedule the visit for work day work hours if at all possible. 2 / If the Htq is too far away, then plan an event and invite a representative of headquarters to come to the chapter. This person can be a national or past national officer or a respected and well educated local alum. 3 / Many Headquarters staffs or national officers have been asked this question so often that they have specific documents or power points etc that they use to help members understand the answers. Ask headquarters if they have such a resource available. 4 / Understand why members of the chapter are asking the question. Does it happen when money is due to Htq. and the chapter is short on cash? Is it because the Htq. is enforcing policies that the members would like to ignore? Focus on the problem. If the chapter budget is tight it may be because you need more members. If it is a matter of the policies, then educate the members more about the reason for the policies and the need to enforce them.
Kristymarie says: Why do you invite them back?! Why do you allow them to get away with house-trashing, stereotype-confirming and none of the responsibility? Many times, the unwritten honor code is “thou shalt not tell on the women”. But, if they are being irresponsible and you continue to allow them to share in the fun without sharing the responsibility, then that’s on you. Sarah says: Here’s what’s up: you allow women, sometimes even underage women, to come to your house, drink and trash it. P.S. you also let your own members and alumni come over and do the same thing!! You get busted because you don’t follow policy. It’s simple, really… you follow policy and act proactively about issues that do come up and you’ll be fine. You are responsible for your members and their guests… hold them accountable. Be proud of your house (which is different than your chapter) and don’t allow anyone, drunk or sober, to trash it!
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Dear Experts: Whenever we have a party at our fraternity house, all the sorority ladies come over, drink our beer and trash our house… then, we are the ones that get busted by the Judicial Board, not the women! What’s up with that?
of your Q: Which fraternal values
is most meaningful to you and what do you do to live it every day?
Maritza Torres Alpha Psi Lambda National, Inc. President, Multicultural Greek Council DePaul University
Yael Dvorin Alpha Epsilon Phi 2007 Panhellenic Council President University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign
Alexandria Davis Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated National Pan-Hellenic Council Vice-President Northwestern University
One of our values is to promote inter-fraternity relations. I live by this everyday by being president of our Multicultural Greek Council and working with both the Panhellenic and Interfraternity Councils. I believe that establishing relationships with other Fraternities and Sororities on campus is very important and will help broaden our knowledge of one another and strengthen our Fraternity and Sorority Community.
I find it extremely powerful when I consider all of the talented and skilled Greek leaders that impact their organizations and campuses on a daily basis. Leadership is a vital Greek value that allows for college students to strengthen their own skills, while simultaneously having a positive impact on their communities and surroundings- currently and for the future. Every day, I use my leadership skills on campus and while I am student teaching.
My passion for community service was one of the major factors that made Greek affiliation appealing to me. I have always felt a responsibility to my community and the people produced from that environment. As I make advancements toward success in my education, career, and personal life, I must remember to reach back and uplift others to encourage the same level of achievement. On a daily basis, I strive to make difference through mentorship and being a role model for youth in my community. If you would like to be featured on The Wall, go online to www.mgca.org and submit your response to the posted question. If your response is chosen for publication, we will contact you for a photo.
ing other Greek organizations in it. Also, I had to look at what my community was lacking and the main focus of the Greek student body. I marketed the increase in Greek unity and the ability to increase individual and group leadership skills. It was around the end of April when I got the final news that this great idea would be implemented in the spring of the 2007-2008 academic year. The easy part was done, now I needed to convince the Greek student body to sign up for it. In February of 2007 I attended MGCA’s annual conference for the first time. The purpose of my attendance at this conference was to find new innovative ways to improve the Greek community on my campus. What I did not know was that the information I would learn at this conference would have such an impact on not only my development as a student leader, but on the development of Central Michigan University’s Greek community. During the conference, I had the opportunity to network with other Greek students from surrounding Universities. I learned that at one university they offer a course specifically designed for Greek students. After hearing more about this I realized that it is something that my campus could really utilize. The problem with getting and having innovative ideas is the challenge of actually implementing them. I got lucky. I already knew what resources my campus offered and I had a good idea on how to use them. Central Michigan University has developed our own Leadership Institute and Leadership Studies minor. The Leadership Institute’s main focus is to coordinate the university’s present and future leadershiprelated activities and programming. Knowing that my campus was very supportive of
In order to start marketing the course the students, I went to multiple Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council meetings. I talked about the advantages of the course and asked for their support. I then followed up with going to multiple fraternity and sorority chapter meetings. This gave me the opportunity to answer any questions that may have been specific to the groups needs. What I found was an overwhelming support from the Greek community for this class. The cap on the course was set at 30 students; at the beginning of the spring semester
taking action... creating a greek leadership course by Scott Konkol // Central Michigan University
increasing the leadership development opportunities on our campus, I set up a meeting with the Coordinator of Leadership Development to discuss the possibility of creating a course specifically for Greek students. During this meeting we discussed the actual purpose of the course and if it would really take off on our campus. In the end he was very supportive of the idea and informed me that the next step was to meet with the Advisor of the Leadership Minor.
we had 41 students signed up with a waiting list.
This was the next step of the process. This meeting would determine whether or not this great idea would come to fruition or if it would just remain a great idea. This meeting was set up to determine the actual academic setting of this course. The support of the idea was there, however, there was a worry that the course would not be embraced by the student body. The Advisor of the Leadership Minor gave me the task of marketing the class to the Greek community and he would take the idea to the Leadership Council. At this point, I stood at a fork in the road. I needed to decide what aspects of the class I wanted to market to the Greek community. I also needed to decide if it would be open to just social fraternities and sororities, or if the class would be inclusive to professional and honorary organizations as well.
Now I understand that it may seem easy to get an idea like this implemented. However, there were some challenges that I had to overcome in order for this to work. The first challenge was to actually get the class filled. While I had support from the administration, I need to make sure that it was something that the Greek community felt would improve our organizations. An easy way to overcome this is to look at the dynamics of the community and target the aspects of the course that seem more appealing to them. I targeted the social aspect of the course as well as the leadership development, two aspects of our community that have the most opportunity for growth. The second challenge was then convincing the entire student body to be receptive of it as well. Some people felt that it was exclusive, and it actually hurt the Greek image. What I had to explain to them is that we are trying to improve our organizations. This is a way for us to work specifically on the problems that we encounter. By discussing these issues with other Greeks we are able to find new solutions that other groups have used.
Because the purpose of this class was to help develop a better Greek community and help with Greek unity and community relations, I decided to create this course allow-
Now these are some challenges that I faced at CMU this process may be easier or harder for other universities
to implement depending on the resources that they offer. I got lucky because I had two huge resources that supported the idea. However, other universities may not have these. In this case there are several different ways you could go about getting this course implemented on your campus. The first step I would take would be to set up a meeting with your Greek Advisor. This person would know the most about the dynamics of your Greek community, and if it would actually be effective and efficient. Also, this is a good idea because your Greek Advisor will have connections with other administrators that you may not have. They will be able to go through the proper channels to get this idea to the right people. I would go into this meeting with a proposal as to why you see the need for a course such as this, and ideas on how to market it to the Greek community. Once you receive some feedback from you Greek Advisor, a good idea would be to take it to the different councils on your campus to see if they will support it as well. These councils can include the Pan-Hellenic Council, the Interfraternity Council, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council. If you can get other students to support this course, then it will make the case of the need for it that much stronger. Another resource that you can look into is your schools interdisciplinary council. These are the people that would have resources to get the course in place. They generally deal with those programs that are not involved in a specific college. Also, getting in contact with you Student Activities Office or the Dean of Students office and setting up a meeting with a representative within, is a good idea. It is good to get as many people behind the idea when getting it started. The more people that support it, the more channels of communication you have. For me, this project took about eight months. The reason it went so fast is due to the resources my campus already offers. The timeline will vary on each campus due to the different curricular process. Overall there are many resources you can use in order to implement a Greek leadership course on your campus. ________________ If you would like any more information, feel free to contact Scott: Scott.Konkol@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taking Action is a personal testimonial of a student leader who has put ideas and inspiration into action. Talking about and advocating for change is not enough… do something! If you or your council has taken action to make positive change that has benefited your Greek community, let us know. Email your ideas to email@example.com.
Purdue University IFC // PR Workshop The IFC hosted a PR workshop on a Sunday in October that covered the following topics: Publicity Planning within your chapter, dealing with the media, how to create and properly distribute press releases, creating a publicity plan, handling crisis situations with the media and university, which stories within your chapter are newsworthy, Promoting positive chapter publicity, Contracts of importance within Purdue’s University News Service. The event’s speakers were Jeanne Norberg, the Director of Publicity for the IFC. The Key Learning Objectives for the workshop were: preparation skills, How to appropriately frame a message for the media, the do’s and don’ts of media relations, interview skills, and how to develop your media strategy after the crisis situation. Highlights included the importance of establishing relationships with key people who can help and hurt a chapter including neighbors, university officials, community leaders, policy marshals and the media. Additionally, participants were trained on how to do effective interviews with representatives of the media, effective ways to communicate your view, and how to develop a media strategy.
from the road Best Practices of MGCA Members Elon University Panhellenic // Miss Recruitment In an effort to realistically educate Potential New Members (PNM’s) about the recruitment process at Elon, the Recruitment Counselors perform a mock “Miss America” contest called “Miss Recruitment”. Over the years, the sorority community was finding that PNM’s too often had the wrong idea about what sorority life was all about and what recruitment was actually like: many were underprepared and some were overdressed. This is a “pageant” that is meant to teach PNM’s about what to wear and what not to wear during the rounds of recruitment, what questions to ask, and other helpful tips. The “pageant” also includes commercials breaks that are performed by individual chapters and cover topics that include hazing, philanthropy, alcohol, scholarships, financial expectations, parties, etc. This event happens as a kick off for recruitment registration so PNM’s have the opportunity to attend the show with significant time to decide whether or not recruitment is something that they’d like to do. Throughout the event, “contestants” are eliminated and eventually a Miss Recruitment is crowned. Although the event has some plays on recruitment and other sorority stereotypes to provide humor, these references are few and overall, the event is meant to educate in addition to entertain.
Case Western Reserve University IFC & PHC // 365 Days of Service This campus has a program called “365 days of service” where 365 days are divided up among the chapters based on the number of members. Those hours are then the chapters’ service requirements for the academic year. Each chapter must complete their required service hours during that academic year. The leadership has found that this is a great new and creative way to encourage chapters to perform community service and hole philanthropy events. Also, chapters can also follow how other chapters on campus are progressing via the Greek Life website. The students report that this has been effective in providing a fun incentive and friendly competition between chapters to perform service. At the end of the academic year, the Annual Greek Awards Banquet recognizes those chapters who have completed the hour requirement. Essentially, this community is giving the equivalent of 365 full days of service to their local community! On the Road What has your campus done lately that deserves recognition? Go online to www. mgca.org and submit an overview of a great activity that your council or community has done lately. You could be featured in an upcoming issue. MGCA // 027
As fraternity men and sorority women it can prove taxing to fight the stereotypes that our brothers and sisters often perpetuate. For some of us, the task of overcoming such obstacles is daunting but there are a few simple things you can do to ensure your chapter is walking its talk, daily. In everything you do, think WWFD: What Would our Founders Do? Would your founders roll a keg in the back door of the chapter house? Would they pose for provocative pictures? Would they create and wear derogative shirts? Likely not. Remembering WWFD may snap you back into reality and remind you the foundation upon which fraternal organizations were founded.
Be a Walking Billboard.
One of the great things about fraternity and sorority life is that we are visible on campus because we do great things and we wear our letters while doing so. However, this free advertising can also be harmful if we are not mindful of our actions. Remember that every time you wear letters you are serving as a commercial for your chapter.
Facebook is Forever.
College is certainly a time to make lasting memories and of course, we all hope to capture them in pictures. Remember though if you post them online on social networking sites, like Facebook or MySpace, those “memories” may last longer than you would hope. Not only do many Universities review facebook pages regularly for student conduct violations, but employers now infiltrate these web pages to find out the hobbies of their future employees.
Peer pressure, poor judgment, and occasionally alcohol, all have a funny way of impacting our lives. Sometimes chapter members will act in ways that are unbecoming and in some cases, illegal. If you see a chapter member crossing the line, speak up and hold them accountable. Do not let one brother or sister tarnish the reputation and health of your chapter. If you cannot confront the individual yourself, talk to a trusted leader or advisor in your chapter and they will know what steps to take.
Crush the Cookie Cutter Image.
As fraternal brothers and sisters, we claim to be organizations open to all walks of life. We often boast about the diversity with our chapters. However, when you look around, how different are we really from the person standing next to us during initiation? Our chapters may attract students with similar academic or personal interests but are we really embracing differences beyond such characteristics? Someone may look different, believe in a different religion or have a sexual orientation opposite of yours, but if they plan to uphold the values and goals of the organization it might be worth getting to know them a bit more outside of the confines of recruitment. Dig a bit deeper into who they are to avoid the cookie cutter image and become a well rounded chapter. 028 // connections // 2008.spring
Live Your Ritual
by Eileen Marin
Raise the bar higher.
Long gone are the days of Animal House where members party all night, sleep all day, and classes fall to the wayside. All of our organizations put emphasis on academic success, civic engagement, and leadership development. Thus, every fraternity and sorority member needs set high standards. Don’t be afraid to spend a weekend studying, spend a Saturday or two each month giving back to the community in which you live, get involved on campus with more than just your chapter.
Show Your True Colors.
This is especially important during recruitment. For sorority recruitment, cutting below the surface conversation can be challenging with the time constraints of parties or rounds. For fraternities, talking up the latest theme party or which sororities your chapter hangs out with also creates challenges. Underclass students seek a place away from home and need to feel comfortable in their environment. If you and your chapter show them the guts of your organizations (i.e. what your chapter is truly about) then maybe students would be less hesitant to join. If you show your real self, you might just be surprised by the kinds of members you attract and the contributions they will make to your organization in the future.
Educate the Masses.
Time and time again we hear negative remarks about “those Greeks.” Take some time to talk to individuals about why they feel the way they do about fraternities and sororities and combat that with the great things chapters do locally and nationally. Perhaps those comments are being made from lack of knowledge and a little education will do some good –just be careful not to take things personally.
With competitions during homecoming, Greek week, and even philanthropies, Greek life can get a bit cutthroat. What is intended to serve as healthy competition can often lead to aggressive behaviors that are incompatible with our values. As fraternal brothers and sisters, we must band together to showcase a united front. While many of these tips seem simple enough, it is funny how little we practice these. Your chapter’s ritual should serve as a living document, one in which you can visibly demonstrate every day. Your founder’s created your ritual and values so that you would have guidance for the future of your organization. If you put the words in to action and cause a domino effect within the chapter, you might just be surprised by the potential that lies within your chapter.
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Connections Winter 2008 - Values