Categories
Brotherhood Leadership Recruitment

the Senioritis Curse

Membership development is a hot topic in the world of fraternity/sorority life. People are starting to ask questions about how we continue to grow our members as they move their time in their chapter and eventually move on to being alumni. Now more than ever national directors, college administrators, and members alike are asking what can be done to sustain members throughout their undergraduate tenure in their organization. My question is how do we utilize senior brothers.

Senior year of college has been one of the most stressful years in my matriculation. I am in the most advanced classes offered in my chosen discipline, my involvement continues to be high, and I am tasked with the gargantuan task of figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life. It’s a lot too handle and it has made me reevaluate what is most important to me.

The area where I have the most control over my circumstances is my participation in clubs/organizations. In a time where I am making important decisions that will determine the course of my life for the next few year, the endeavors that used to occupy my days seem trivial and almost frivolous. And something that has been such a big part of my college experience, namely fraternity life, has become part of that list.

I’ve heard it and seen it before. Senioritis sets in and seniors stop caring about pretty much everything, but this is not that. My love for my chapter is unwavering but for the first time in my membership I feel absolutely useless. I feel like I serve no purpose. I am no longer an executive. I am not essential. I am a member without a cause.

Senior members are some of the most underutilized participants across the board. From others in the organization and they themselves, the notion of “this doesn’t matter … I’m graduating” runs rampant. This excuse of graduating from both us and those who fail to use us is wholly detrimental. Until we walk across the stage on commencement day we can be useful, so use us.

But in that same way don’t use us and throw us away. We deserve better than that. We’ve given our all in our membership and somewhere, deep on down there, we still want to. Recognize us and make us feel seen, heard, and valued.

We’re not motivated to do anything or to contribute productively. Recruitment for example – what’s the point? We’ll spend less than a semester with these new members before departing, the possibility of lowered dues won’t take effect until after we’ve graduated, and our interactions with underclass-peoples are pointedly limited. Of course the answer to that question is rhetorical – it’s what we signed up for, what we promised when we joined, and part of what it means to be a member. However, those brash and brazen heartstring-pulling sentiments have lost their resonance. We’re cynical, tired, and beyond rousing motivational speeches, scare tactics, and incentives. So how can we be helped?

It’s on us AND on you to make our last semester worthwhile.

Seniors

  • You’re not too old or too good to participate in events, programs, or meetings
  • Give the proper respect to your executives and fellow members – no one needs to earn from you, it’s mandatory
  • Embrace change – yearning for how things “used to be done” can be derailing; bring insight but refrain from stifling new ideas and opinions
  • PARTICIPATE – bring your whole self, show up on time, and stay to clean up; prove yourself
  • Stop blaming the future for why you aren’t living in the present – you have more time to offer than you let on

We’re a tricky bunch. We know we can still do amazing things but it doesn’t seem like anyone needs us to do so. Need us, ask for help from us, and let us teach you what we’ve learned. Make us matter! If you let us fall by the wayside that is how we will depart and that’s no way to leave a relationship that’s supposed to last a lifetime.

Members

  • Give us things to do and things we actually care about –  you should know us best so keep us involved by assigning tasks that we have always loved doing
  • Avoid belittling us – menial tasks are a no-go; we want purpose
  • Hold us accountable – if we’re flaky, disinterested, or bring a bad attitude; call us out and remind us how much we used contribute positively
  • Know our constituency – we’re not new members, nor are we your average member – treat us as we are (members who are unfortunately moving on)
  • Show your appreciation for us – thank you’s and expressions of gratitude go a long way; we will not be here forever – be good to us while you can

I love my chapter – that will always remain true but if you really think I am invaluable treat me as such before it’s too late. If you want me to come back, to donate my time or money, and to stay in touch this is the most important to make me feel wanted, needed, and appreciated. We’re your senior brothers but we’ll be alumni soon.

How do you keep your senior members engaged?

Brother Oteng

Categories
Brotherhood Community Leadership

Climb

Almost a week ago today, I had the opportunity to partake in an event that truly impacted my life. CLIMB, the UVM Fraternity and Sorority Life Social Justice retreat allowed me to meet and build so many new bonds with my brothers and sisters in FSL, but also opened my eyes and made me stop and think about my role in the communities that I am a part of. It made me think about my values, those that have been instilled upon me by the teachings of others and the ones that I have created in my own personal growth.  I had no clue what I was getting into when I first signed up for this even at my first chapter meeting in February, but now have had the time to let the lessons of that event sink in, I can honestly say it was the best spur of the moment decision that I’ve made.

You Are Always Wearing Your Letters – video

One of the goals of CLIMB is that the lessons in leadership, social justice, and the living of our values be brought back to our fraternities and sororities.

LEADERSHIP: That’s easy. Knowing who you personal are as a leader. Stepping up to take and active role in the leadership of the fraternity, even if you don’t have a position. One of the core values that Phi Mu Delta believes in is democracy. In a democracy, everyone is a leader and everyone has a voice. Every voice is valuable and as I like to say when it comes to voting and playing an active role in the decision making process, you can’t complain if you don’t let your voice be heard.

SOCIAL JUSTICE: This one, in my opinion, is a little bit trickier. The main goal is to make us aware of the personal biases and even stereotypes that might just happen without us even knowing it. The first step is always admitting that something is wrong. Also, educating ourselves on the way that we can potential help others become aware of their bias and being an ally for every person, regardless of color, race, creed, or position.

This last one, VALUES, is a little bit harder. First we have to address our values. And not only the values that we say at the end of every chapter meet, but also the ones that we carry with us in our everyday lives. It is when those personal, public values become intertwine with the values that we hold as brothers of Phi Mu Delta, do we get to the true point of CLIMB. When we start living all of our values, and our fellow brothers and sisters begin to live their values, then a web is built, one that is shown to the community and says, “We are Greek Life and this is what we TRUELLY believe!”

Climb 2

It is then that we can begin to build a wall, not one that divides, but lifts all of us up to a higher standard that we as fraternity men and sorority women put ourselves to.

It is then that a new, positive light can be shed on the stereotype that surrounds fraternity and sorority life.

It is then that CLIMB and its goals have done it job in building a better FSL community

 

Don’t Forget to Stay Awesome,

Brother Lemos

Categories
Brotherhood Community Leadership

Senior Brothers

 IMG_4646_1With graduation about eight weeks away, seniors (if they already haven’t started) are beginning to feel that overwhelming sensation called senioritis. This rare condition affects the victim by decreasing their interest and increasing their levels of procrastination. For some, they get the opposite, feeling a lingering sense of near-impending doom.  Their reality may appear to be closing in on them and the thought of “adulthood” is a dark, luminous cloud hovering over their head. When it comes to the Senior Brother, they might begin to disengage from the actions of the fraternity. These brothers are living between worlds, half in college and half inching out. They attend the occasional event or make an appearance at a chapter meeting. Be it senioritis, or stress, how does the rest of the fraternity keep them involved before they walk across that stage? Senior brothers, this one’s for you.

Input: Senior brothers usually (not necessarily) have the most experience in the fraternity realm. They’ve done and experienced a lot specifically in the context of keeping your chapter alive. Let them that you value their thoughts, opinions and still need their advice. Making them feel included will keep that buy in strong.

Gratitude: Just like sports team might do, showcase the work of the senior brothers in a special night, dedicated to them. Be it during the school year or before graduation, when families might be present, have a Senior Night, inviting family and friends to honor the brothers that will be physically leaving, but never leaving in spirit. Have their little create a little slideshow or make a poster. If brave, have a Senior Roast (in lighthearted fun). Whatever you do, admonish people speak from the heart. Have your departing brothers share their fondest moments or lend some advice to future brothers.

The last point is knowledge. Senior brothers might remember events that the fraternity did, or ideas that never worked that can be passed on to the next generation of brothers. At camp, it’s the duty of a past director to help guide a new director on the right path. The Senior Brother is in a way similar, helping steer new members towards an idea of what the fraternity is all about and setting themselves as an example to look up to. So though their time at the University might be over, the part that they played in the fraternity will always be there. So let them know, show that once a brother, always a brother.

Senior brothers, finish strong. Give your fraternity all you’ve got. You owe it to yourself to go out with bang instead of fizzling out or fading to gray. It’s so easy to get caught up in the details of your life, graduate schools, moving to new places, staying on parents’ healthcare plans, and everything in between. Not to say that your future isn’t important but it’s worth living in the moment as you complete your college experience. Experience where you are while you there. Be fully present, engage, listen, and value what’s going on around you and the people you’re with before moving on. Make a point to connect with people you’ve always wanted to do so with (it’s not that awkward actually) and solidify your connections that you want to keep post graduation. You joined for life and for life you will be a member. Remember that!

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Don’t Forget to Stay Awesome,  Brother Lemos

Categories
Brotherhood Leadership Service

Brother Superhero

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound! A description that is fit for Superman, but one that sometimIMG_5070es can be used to describe a brother, one may call a “Superhero Brother”. He’s always active on the campus, passionate about everything he does, and still makes sure to get his work done and stays active in the fraternity. You sometimes might think he has a magic time turner like Hermione or lives of a diet of air and extracurricular. But in all this, he might not have time to sleep, eat, or even just to take time out of his day for himself. He might realize this or he might be oblivious to it. Brother superhero is truly a crucial asset to your chapter, does the work of five brothers, and usually surprises you for the better.  Losing him is something you should strive to avoid at all costs. Almost everyone loves brother superhero, and don’t get me wrong, he’s who we should all strive to emulate in some ways, but he is also one of the most dangerously problematic brothers in your chapter. Here’s why:

  • Doing others’ work – Brother superhero may get things done but instead of trusting the process to educate other brothers he has a tendency to take over (usually nonchalantly)  and ends up doing more work than necessary. Other brothers may become lazy or remain uneducated about some of the things they were tasked with.
  • Burnout – This brother arguably is the most overworked and somehow finds time and energy to do excellent work but sooner rather than later will burnout and may crash hard. Come to his rescue, either by sharing some of his workload beforehand or giving him proper space and time to recover.
  • Dependency – When the rare day comes around (and it will) that brother superhero cannot save the day, your chapter may find itself up a creek without a paddle. No one person missing should derail any endeavors your chapter takes on, always have a backup plan just in case.

That’s where we fly in. As brothers, it’s our duty to be a support and voice of advice and guidance to other brothers who might be in this spot, especially new members who feel the urge to be at everything but still might need to balance the rest of their priorities or the overachieving student leader who seems to be involved in everything. The last we want to see is a brother fail in an area that he strives for excellence in. So how do we help? Hold a study session with him during some free time, not only to study but also just to catch up with him and see how he’s doing. Support is always the best option. And if you see that it’s beginning to take a toll on them, maybe then step in and let them know to take it easy. Support before you advise against.

But is being a “Superhero Brother” necessarily a bad thing? No. With effective time management and prioritizing, it can be a positive way to get involved not only in the fraternity but on campus and give some purpose to some of those long, endless hours of doing nothing that you might have. But the emphasis is on time management and prioritizing. Coming from personal experience, it’s a skill that should not be taken lightly. If you honestly can’t fit something into you schedule where you can’t give 100% or might have to worry about finish an assignment, DON’T DO IT! Stretching yourself to the point of breaking is not a good thing.

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In closing, we all have the opportunity to be a “Superhero Brother” in our own ways. As we like to say at camp, take the initiative. Be it a leader of a committee, becoming part of an organization, volunteering, or simple catching up with a fellow brother going that extra step is what makes a brother super.

Don’t Forget to Stay Awesome,

Brother Lemos