Excuse my absence.
I have been away since June 27th serving as a small group facilitator for IMPACT Alpha Delta Pi and Phi Mu’s IMPACT. I work with fraternities and sororities. It is my thing. Well, actually it is my career and to be honest has become my passion. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t LOVE all aspects of my work with Greeks but IMPACT wraps up what I love about my chosen career in one beautiful package.
I have a confession: I love having conversations with college students. On top of that I think I’m pretty good at it. I don’t mean just chatting about the weather, which Kardashian annoys them the most, or whether or not they like their Lilly Pulitzer sorority print; but REAL conversations. More like, who are you, who do you want to be, what do you value, why did you make that decision, and what can you do to become a better version of yourself? So, yeah it gets REAL.
I spend most of my time with sorority women and that is what I did this past week in the A-T-L and San Antonio, TX. Two incredible inter/national organizations brought in the North American InterFraternity Council’s IMPACT to help train their chapter presidents, new member educators, and emerging leaders. Myself along with a co-facilitator worked with a chapter of 10-15 women. We led them through conversations about values, communication, confrontation, accountability, ritual, courage, leadership, stakeholders, and creating change. We talked about a lot in a 2-3 day program and believe it or not students have great epiphanies in those moments that they take back to their college campus. IMPACT is a catalyst for individual, chapter, and community change.
Fraternities and sororities have a bad reputation and granted the stigma associated with these groups is often well deserved. However, people like me are working hard everyday with students to get them to take Greek back to good. How do we do this? We remind them of the reason their organizations exists. We take them back to their values. Visit any website of a inter/national fraternity/sorority and you will find a creed, purpose statement, mission, or open motto. In none of these does it say that men and women commit themselves to debauchery. Instead you are presented with high ideals that if acted upon and lived out loud would lead a member of a fraternity/sorority to be a better person than before they became members. Fraternities/Sororities serve to make men better men and women better women. “My letters don’t make me better than you but they make me better than I used to be.” This should be the motto of all students involved in a Greek-lettered organization. However, one look at the Huffington Post or Total Frat Move and you can see that things have gone awry.
Problems exist but so do successes and spending time with the amazing women of Alpha Delta Pi and Phi Mu showed me once again that all of the struggle is worth the effort. If I can help two handfuls of these women remember their creed and work little by little and day by day to turn their Ritual into their ritual then I’ve done a lot for that student and the fraternal community at large.
I am a member of Delta Delta Delta and I have my own Purpose to live up to on a daily basis. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail but no matter what I keep trying and I keep learning and growing as a woman of Tri Delta. I look in the mirror and I make decisions based on what I value. College students need to do the same. There is so much pressure to do what everyone else is doing that many of our students have lost themselves in the pursuit of popularity or ephemeral bouts of happiness. However, when the night becomes the morning and they have to face their reflection many of them struggle to look themselves in the eye. The dissonance weighs too heavy on their soul. The outcomes are not pretty and instead leave us with overcrowded counseling centers, over medicated students, and feigned masks of happiness floating about campus epitomizing the term “effortless perfection”.
I want to keep working to get them back to the most relevant aspect of Greek Life. Values! The oath to live up to organizational values for a lifetime with people that become your family and a network that spreads far and wide are things that no other organization can give you. My career has become my passion because I know that a well crafted conversation can change a person’s perspective. It can lead a student down a new path. I know that there are students who want to make a difference but they just need a push in the right direction. Our students need support. In my current role I am creating more opportunities to have those talks with students and push them to question the very shaky ground on which they stand.
It is truly amazing that my passion can be performed during a large part of my day in my office. I know this is quite the blessing and one that I will continue to be thankful for as I drive to work in the mornings. My Facebook cover photo states, “What are you doing to make things better?” If there is ever a day that I say “nothing” then I know that I’ve got to reinvigorate my passion all over again but for now I’m working on getting to “better”–I promise!