By Ben Fair – Leadership Consultant
As I was sitting at the Sigma North/South Bi Province retreat, I noticed on the left side of the agenda they had printed Arthur R. Priest’s “I believe in the college fraternity.” Something I never thought about was that OUR fraternity (Phi Delta Theta) was not mentioned anywhere in that quote. It made me think that he did not just believe in Phi Delta Theta; he also believed in the opportunities that other fraternal organizations could provide to college students.
One of the things that many chapters do not consider a part of their fraternity experience is their participation with other fraternities on campus. An important part of fraternity life is being a part of the IFC. Every chapter should try to hold at least one position on the IFC, because it allows them to help lead the body that governs their fraternity community. Many chapters that have problems with the IFC are the ones who feel like they are underrepresented or not represented at all. Make sure when election time comes, you have at least one member running for a position on the council.
Another way to further engage your chapter within the Greek community is by helping with or attending other fraternities’ and sororities’ philanthropies or community service events. Helping others will also encourage other organizations to be more active in your chapter’s events in the future, causing your efforts to be more fruitful. Co-hosting or participating in social awareness programming for the Greek community or university is another way to fight negative stereotypes that still exist. Your chapter could be great, but if the IFC or Greek Community in general is not respected, you’re chapter will be lumped in with the rest. The majority of non-Greeks do not understand the differences between one Greek organization and another. If there is an overall appreciation for fraternities and sororities, your chapter will benefit from that positive reputation.
There are also opportunities around campus to create a unified Greek community. If the Greek community pulls together and elects student government officers who are Greek, the student government will identify more with Greek endeavors. In your Greek council meetings, let attendees know if fellow Greeks are running for Student Government positions and discuss how their election could be beneficial to the community. If your community wants to encourage a Greek to run for office, make sure that you are encouraging the right people. The Greek community can gain respect from the rest of the University by improving the University with the office, but if he or she does a poor job, it will reflect negatively on who they represent.
Finally, I’d like to finish with a thought about our open motto – We enjoy life by the help and society of others. Remember that working together with other organizations on campus can be mutually beneficial. Always take time to look for those who are willing to help, and always remember to return the favor when they need help. A long term relationship with another organization on campus is much easier to maintain than continuously having to look for new partners.