• Fraternity Recruitment
    Fraternity Recruitment Thoughts from the Expansion Department of Sigma Pi Fraternity, International

 

I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Middle Tennessee State University FSL Community this week as they held an IMPACT session, a leadership development and educational program organized by the NIC, for the newly elected leaders of their chapters and councils. As a small group facilitator, I had the opportunity to work alongside a 25-year volunteer for a national sorority, and assist nine young leaders in understanding their potential, their purpose, and their shared vision. After three days of early mornings, late nights, and a whole lot of walking from one side of camp to the other, a few important lessons began to sink in for both the students, and the facilitators.

          1. We all face the same issues, and the times haven’t changed much.

IFC, Panhellenic, NPHC, it doesn’t matter. We all share common burdens when working with our chapters, and very few of the issues we struggle with our actually exclusive to our organizations. The real struggle is overcoming our pride, exclusivity, and fear of change in order to find collaborative solutions. What we discussed and accomplished in our small group was only a single piece of a much bigger puzzle. Similarly, the issues we face as councils today are the same issues we faced 25 years ago. The difference, however, is that today we are equipped with the knowledge and vision to correct our mistakes, and the available resources to make that vision a reality.

          2. It’s ok to be proud of our accomplishments, as long as we also admit our flaws.

As a community, we focus a lot of our time on sharing our successes. “Look how many new members we recruited this semester!” “Look how much money we raised for our philanthropic partner!” “Look at how many hours of mandatory community service our members completed this year!” I think, at times, we might be guilty of fitting ourselves with blinders, and willfully choosing to ignore the serious issues within our organizations because, as we’ve made a habit of sharing, we’ve been doing so well in other areas. We’re not being fair to ourselves trying to have one without the other. Recognizing and acting on our opportunities is practically the definition of progress, a concept I know our members hold dear.

          3. There is an overabundance of help available to you, and it often goes unnoticed.

It really is uncanny how much support you have available to you as an undergraduate member of a fraternity or sorority. Between your specific Chapter Advisors, Regional Advisors, Graduate Assistants at your university, full time FSL Advisors employed by the university, travelling staff working for your national organization, and a plethora of other Directors and Coordinators in your office of student activities who, above all else, are deeply invested in seeing their students develop and succeed, you’d have to try pretty hard to find yourself in a situation where no one was available to offer you help and support. Sometimes, the easiest and the hardest things to do are the same, and in this case, that may just be reaching out admitting that you need a helping hand. Never be afraid to ask for guidance, we are all here to see you thrive.

 

picture courtesy of MTSU FSL Facebook Page

 

For information about bringing IMPACT to your campus, or any other NIC programs, check out the NIC website here

*Special thanks to the MTSU FSL Community for allowing me to experience such a great retreat with them, the NIC for coordinating the program, and to my small group, the Fantastic Chapter 4, who I know will continue to show their peers what it means to lead by example. #TrueBlueMove

This month's blog may seem like more of a rambling, tangential collection of thoughts, but I promise there will be a point. (I think...)

It's the holiday season, and regardless of which religious affiliation you associate with, or your family background, everyone has a few similar motivations this season. Some relish the opportunity to see family and friends they haven't seen all year. Some enjoy the thrill of watching their loved ones open that one gift they really wanted this year, and some of us enjoy the thrill of being the one to open that gift. Whatever it is that gets you in the spirit of the holiday season, I think we can all agree that the season is better with company.

Which brings me to my first point: inclusivity. This feeling we all get when we go home for the holidays, or see our best friend from high school, or that relative who is always making funny jokes and slipping you some extra spending money behind your parents back, that feeling is probably best compared to belonging. We are there because we are MEANT to be there, with the people who matter the most to us. Now, let's translate that to a Univeristy context, since this is, after all, a fraternity blog. No matter your university, no matter your Greek system, no matter what type of school you are attending, I guarantee that there are more students than you can count on campus who haven't found their place to belong yet. They don't have that group of friends they couldn't live without yet. They don't have that home away from home. Wouldn't it be incredible if we took the time to get to know them and maybe give someone else the gift of fraternity? The gift of brotherhood and belonging?

My second lesson from this holiday season is this: awareness. As I'm currently sitting on a plane back to my hometown, I'm understandably very conscious of the fact that I have exactly 8 days in town to spend with family, see old friends, do some last minute shopping, hit every restaurant I haven't pigged out at in years, and celebrate Christmas with my extended family before I have to get on another plane. Time is precious, and to again attempt to transition this back into the fraternity context of this blog, our time in our chapters is precious as well. We often get caught up in the "it will get done soon" mentalities, or the "our exec couldn't get it done, so the next will have to start over" crutches. Make the most of your time as an undergraduate, because if you don't set that one standard, if you don't host that one service project, if you don't take the initiative to create positive change within your chapter, it may never happen.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, my last lesson is this: don't worry about what everyone else gets. Some of us will walk away with some new Beats by Dre headphones this season (though I can't for the life of me understand why anyone uses those bass amplifying ear dumpsters...) and some of us will get a book and a Starbucks gift card. Everyone's situation is different, and to allow your holiday spirit to be dictated by what someone else received and you didn't is missing the true point of the season, togetherness. Some of our chapters are small, some are very large, but for those of you in smaller or struggling chapters, never let anyone make you feel like your brotherhood and dedication to the ideals of Sigma Pi are less than that of someone else. Appreciate those around you, and be a good brother and citizen to everyone you meet, regardless of your situation. That's the real Sigma Pi holiday spirit.

It’s almost the Holiday Season everyone! While it’s clearly the most wonderful time of the year, it’s often followed by what can only be described as an absolute exodus of ¼ of your membership in the spring. I’m talking about that little switch that seems to go off in all of our seniors’ minds that says “Welp, guess my work here is done!” as they rather abruptly hand the chapter off to the rest of you.

The holiday season is all about spirit and a giving attitude, but it is also about setting goals for the upcoming year. So, let’s make a New Year’s Resolution this year to give our senior members a better reason to stick around and use their experience for the betterment of the chapter. But how do we do that?

A very simple way of keeping seniors involved, and one that my own chapter very enthusiastically practiced (oddly enough, beginning my senior year…) is the tradition of a Senior Specific Event. Ours was very crudely titled, Senior Weekend. The chapter appropriated a certain amount of every senior’s second semester dues to the event, with the remainder of the cost being covered by each of us. We set a date, and went to a golf resort for a weekend to spend time with the guys who we had spent four years building a brotherhood with. Talk about putting our senior dues to good use!

Another (somewhat more productive) way to keep your seniors involved is by doing just that; get them INVOLVED. Use the experience each senior has built up to better educate your new members. After all, it wouldn’t be too much work for most of your seniors to come into a new member education meeting each week and share some of the biggest lessons their last four years have taught them. Additionally, you might think about having one or two of your seniors serve on your standards board. Not only do they know what they’re doing, but they’ve seen it all before, and will probably command some welcome respect to the standards procedure in your chapter.

Let’s play the “what if” game for this last example and really think outside of the box. What if, your 1st Counselor spent a lot of his time in office contacting local alumni who work within a 50-mile radius of campus? Then, what if he coordinated a date in the spring that all of those alumni could come to campus for a few hours to advertise careers and internships in their field? THEN, what if you invited other nearby Sigma Pi chapters to attend this meeting and conducted it like any other campus job fair? BOOM, the Sigma Pi Job Fair just became your number one senior event, and you’ve found a way to not only keep them involved in the progress of your chapter, but you may have just given them a leg up in the professional world as well.

I don’t want to make it sound like every senior in the world is out of touch or indifferent about their chapter’s success come April or May. However, it’s all too common of a problem to see great members slip into an apathetic state, and that’s no way to end a great undergraduate experience in your fraternity. It’s clearly up to every senior to ultimately make the choice to stick around or not, but if you as a chapter can give them a good reason, I think you’ll be very pleased to see the results.

If, over the past few weeks, you’ve paid an ounce of attention to one of the countless screens you view on a day-to-day basis, you have no doubt caught wind of what is going on around the NFL this fall. In the course of three weeks, numerous allegations have come out regarding domestic abuse, child endangerment, and the accused players have been in the limelight more than the actual gameplay.

However disturbing some of these offenses may be, it’s the league’s (and more importantly, the teams’) handling of each situation that has begun to catch my eye, and the attention of critics across the country. To keep a very long and detailed story concise, no one has handled this situation responsibly. Instead, NFL owners, coaches, and even the commissioner himself, have been sucked into what ESPN radio host Mike Greenberg very accurately dubbed, a vacuum of leadership.

His reasoning resonated with me, both as a fraternity leader and as a citizen, that leadership is supposed to be about truly clearing a path for others to follow, and never being afraid to stand up for what you know is right, moral, and true. In their dancing back and forth decision making process over the last week, the leadership of several major NFL teams has been displayed for what it truly is; cowardice.

True leadership is not reliant on the approval or opinion of others. Leaders do not wait around to see what the rest of the world thinks before acting. Leaders do not sit and make excuses while waiting for someone else to make a decision for them. Leaders, in our world, in our community, and in our fraternity, know the difference between right and wrong long before public opinion has to tell them otherwise. Our leaders are not afraid to say, “I’m not comfortable condoning this,” or “This is what needs to be done.”

 So to the NFL teams that continue to wait on the rest of the world for the right call, I say this. Make a decision, and stick with it. Even a decision everyone dislikes is a more profound statement of leadership and direction than what is currently happening in this league.

To the members of our fraternity, pay attention. Every day, for the rest of your life, you will be tested. You will be challenged. Your morality will be put to trial, and I promise you, it will always be easier to take the easy way out. It will always be easier to let someone make decisions for you, and it will always feel more comfortable to do so. But by joining this organization, you swore to lead. You swore to stand up for your beliefs, and to create a better world around you. I have faith that our generation can show the rest of the world that despite a lack of true leadership in our most popular sport, the young men who make a difference every day on college campuses across the country know what it really means to pave the way for everyone else.

Take this to heart brothers, and challenge yourselves to make a difference today. You alone control the impact you can have on this world. 

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About Ryan Armstrong

Ryan Armstrong

Ryan Armstrong serves as Director of Expansion of Sigma Pi Fraternity, International. Founded in 1897, Sigma Pi Fraternity is the leading, international men's collegiate fraternal organization which provides training, guidance and innovative opportunities for Leadership Development, Social and Personal Development, Academic Achievement, Community Service and Heightened Moral Awareness for its brothers throughout their lives.

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