Fraternity and Sorority Members Emerge As Leaders
August 18, 2015
By Brandon Lucas
Summer is a time for change, or at least that is how 10 Greek members at the University of Mount Union saw it.
Juniors Gabriela Botzman of Alpha Chi Omega, Stacy Kent of Delta Sigma Tau, Alex Machovina of Phi Kappa Tau and Clinton Simmons of Phi Kappa Tau; and sophomores Aj Fisher of Phi Kappa Tau, Steven Phipps of Sigma Alpha Epislon, Brianna Whittaker of Delta Sigma Tau, Cody Rohaley of Phi Kappa Tau, Nicole Siliko of Delta Sigma Tau and Meghan Tubbessing of Alpha Chi Omega recently participated in the Undergraduate InterFraternity Institute (UIFI). There, they learned to be leaders of tomorrow, developing their values as fraternity men and sorority women, and learning what it means to be a part of a fraternity and sorority.
Taking place at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, this five-day institute welcomes all fraternity and sorority members from across the nation. The institute focuses on educating participants to be effective and efficient communicators and confident leaders within their chapters and campus communities.
Gaining these skills, the members are challenged to use their newfound knowledge and experience to help benefit their individual chapters. They do this by teaching what they have learned to their brothers and sisters, staying committed to their values, finding the reason why they joined their chapters, and by doing what they can to make their chapter the best it can be and to improve the image of Greek life as a whole.
"At this conference, I realized that it is much more important to stay true to your own values and lead by example as opposed to being fearful of standing alone," Whittaker said.
When a student joins a Greek organization, they are constantly representing their organization through their actions. This is an aspect UIFI strongly emphasizes to its participants. When joining a fraternity or sorority, students are a part of something greater than themselves.
"This experience was one of the best that I have had in my entire life. I learned more about who I was as a leader, as a brother and as a person than I ever have before in my life. This created a huge support group for me, one that I would not find anywhere else," Simmons said.
Another important the attendees took away was the relationships they gained. With so many Greek members there, each with different backgrounds and values, they learned much about each other and each other's chapters. Through their relationships, the attendees were able to learn new perceptions about being in Greek life and what it means to them, different chapter values and how to handle problems within their chapter. In addition, they were able to give their insights, ideas and experiences to help others.
"Leaving this conference was truly heartbreaking because I developed the absolute best friendships with such deep connections." Rohaley said.
Participants were asked to create a blueprint toward improving their chapter. This blueprint is a guide for the chapter to follow to help it become the best it can be. Many of the participants have their chapter's rituals and values as the main focus on the blueprint so that all their brothers and sisters can fully understand what it means and what they signed up for when joining Greek life. These blueprints even help the participants see what they want to accomplish personally, which helps them to become the best brother or sister they can possibly be within their chapter and community.
"I hope to implement what I have learned by always being an advocate for what is right within my chapter. I hope to strengthen our sisterhood by being the example of what a great sister is and by outwardly living my ritual every day," Botzman said.
During one of the sessions, Siliko and her group were able use what they learned and put it into practice through community service. The group went to the Boys and Girls Club in Bloomington, where they pitched in to paint a house. During this experience, the group discussed the difference between philanthropic events and community service and how both are essential for a successful chapter.
"The people there were so excited and grateful that we came out to help them. Seeing the smiles on their faces was worth all the time spent painting," Siliko said.
With a new-found passion and strength for the Greek community, members were challenged to bring what they learned back to Mount Union and implement it. Many of the participants have retreats and goals planned for their chapters.