In the last week, how many topics did you cover in conversations, meetings, and emails? Campus fraternity and sorority advisors and headquarters staff alike often become a jack of many trades. In some ways, this mirrors the experience many had in their higher education graduate programs or as chapter consultants visiting chapter to chapter. A course on legal issues, student development theories, strategic planning and more. Visiting a chapter during recruitment, officer transitions, in response to an incident and so on. The work we do to support fraternity/sorority communities is complex. As the field of higher education has grown and functional areas established, so does the desire to bring industry professionals together to information share, collaborate and invest in the continued development of our field.
Just like AFA collaborates with other associations on resource development and information sharing across functional areas, we can do the same to continue to refine our skills. Through the association’s principles of the competency model, we are reminded that an individualized approach is important as we consider the needs of our current position, future career aspirations and current events (AFA Core Competencies). When considering the types of associations you may benefit from most, in addition to AFA, there are three approaches I encourage you to consider.
Within your department, what are the specific functions you are responsible for? For some, the major responsibilities are specifically tied to certain functions like recruitment, housing, leadership development, risk management or specific campus and community initiatives. For others, it spans all areas of fraternity/sorority community oversight. Identifying the niche areas with your role can lead to natural connection points to associations that have a primary focus on that topic.
In my role, I oversee the risk management strategy for the organization which includes responding to concerns for member safety, policy violations and misconduct. I take advantage of the joint membership bundle with a small discount at renewal time for both AFA and the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA).
What in your current or future role excites you most? Is it a specific skill you want to develop? Is it a topic you could talk about for hours?
The options of higher education professional associations are numerous based on functional area. It may also be advantageous to look outside higher education specific associations to those that are content experts on your area of interest. Becoming familiar with other communities of professionals is a great way to expand your network and knowledge base. It’s also a great way to bring new information and ideas to the AFA community.
Your areas of opportunity
How do you stay current? As the needs, desires and realities of the college environment and college students evolve, identifying how you will explore emerging trends is important to professional growth. Umbrella associations like the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) provide significant education and resources around the college and university landscape.
Being a part of AFA provides the opportunity to delve deeply into professional experiences and growth while working with fraternities and sororities. As good partners in the field of higher education, expanding our exposure and knowledge by engaging with additional associations is a great way to connect our work to the many areas we intersect with in intentional and unintentional ways. Exploring other associations can be done in a variety of ways! While being a member of an association often has additional benefits and opportunities, many have free resources and ways to engage in learning about the work they are doing. Being in community with others allows us to learn from one another and view our roles within a larger context where we often find we are more impactful together.
Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors Core Competencies. https://afa1976.org/core-competencies/
About the author:
Emily Rose Jacobsen currently works as the Director of Harm Reduction at Alpha Chi Omega Headquarters. In this role she manages the harm reduction strategy of the organization including prevention education, health and safety initiatives, risk management and chapter conduct. Emily Rose is a proud graduate of Middle Tennessee State University where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communication and Leadership Studies and Louisiana State University where she obtained her Master of Arts Degree in Higher Education Administration.