We can’t know what we don’t know. I feel like I say that and hear that all the time in our work. It’s hard to know what the right thing to do, the right thing to say – when all we want to do is support our chapter leaders and meet them where they are. But how do we do that when we know they’re all at different places, have different identities, experiences and backgrounds, and need different things from us? It’s simple – we ask them. Some of their responses might surprise you.
What do you wish your fraternity and sorority advisors knew about your experience as a member of your organization?
“Honestly, I feel like they know a majority of everything that goes on. But mostly with my class load, I hope that they know that I’m trying to fulfill my duties to the best of my abilities.” – Myles Pickens, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated, Middle Tennessee State University
“If there is one thing I would want them to know, it would be that this position means a lot to me. As much as I want to be IFC President, I also want to be everyone’s friend. I want to be able to be someone who everyone can talk to about anything they want to. It can just be a casual conversation, or some ideas that might benefit Greek Life, or it can even be just to say hi.” – Jeet Patel, Alpha Tau Omega, Middle Tennessee State University
What would you say are the most important things to know about your experience at your campus?
“The friendships, the memories and the experience. I have made many friends that I can depend on no matter what. I have been in multiple instances throughout college where I needed help and I have always been able to depend on a group of guys that will come running to help me no matter what time it is. The memories that I have made along the way have also been so important to me. Whether it was helping box food at a food bank, cleaning a trail, tailgating, planning events, chapter meetings, or even just hanging out.” – Jeet Patel, Alpha Tau Omega, Middle Tennessee State University
“My experience is uncommon. I was initiated in fall of 2022, and then became president and VP- Recruitment & Marketing in January of 2023. Most people don’t go from a new member to President in less than 3 months. I was also an older recruit as I was a Junior when I became a KD! This is by far the most unique thing about my experience.” – Haley Burt, Kappa Delta, University of Arkansas Little Rock
“One important thing to know about our Panhellenic community at FGCU is the importance of creating bonds between members of different organizations. Our Panhellenic community creates a great space for members of different organizations to come together and create a sisterhood within the Panhellenic community. Our community heavily focuses on the sense of belonging and does a wonderful job of creating that sense of belonging not only within our personal organizations but as a Panhellenic member too.” – Ellie Elander, Alpha Chi Omega, Florida Gulf Coast University
At first look, I admit I felt like there weren’t many commonalities in these answers. But when I thought about what was at the root of all these responses, one word came to mind: Community. Each of these campus leaders’ responses focused on how much they care about their roles and how those roles play a small part in a bigger-than-themselves thing – their communities. Even though each of them has things about their own experiences that are unique, at the root of it all, their compassion and care for others shines through. But there is another side to that. When was the last time you checked in on your campus leaders? Not about how their chapter or their council is doing, not about how their organization shows up on campus but how THEY are doing? These interviews serve as a great reminder that our campus leaders are often hyper-focused on how they show up for their chapter and their council as members of their campus communities, but are we showing up for them as whole people?
If you’ve gotten to the end of this article, I encourage you to check in with your people – not the NPHC president Myles, but Myles the human. Not the Junior new member to chapter president Haley, but Haley the human. Everyone is the summation of many parts and being campus leaders is only part of who they are.
About the author:
Jen Wallach currently works as the Director of Education and Leadership Initiatives for Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity, Inc and is celebrating her ninth year on staff. In her role, Jen provides oversight to the education and leadership initiatives team that is responsible for Alpha Chi Omega’s educational and leadership programming. Prior to joining #TeamAXO, Jen worked at Middle Tennessee State University where she also received her Masters in Higher Education Administration and Supervision. Jen currently lives in Murfreesboro, TN with her husband Nathan and their favorite boy, Stanley the dog.