Monday, March 14, 2011

Living our Purpose

Attending the Central Fraternal and National Black Greek Leadership conference was an amazing opportunity, which opened my eyes to many issues facing Greek communities across the nation. In the midst of learning how to create a functional budget, improve job interview skills and increase scholarship in my chapter and council I was inspired to start tackling many of the barriers that are currently facing KU Greek life.

We all know that Greek life at KU is far from perfect. Every year events occur that attract negative press, which gives the outside community an imperfect image of what Greek life really is.  We can argue that these events many times occur from our rich “traditions” that have been around for years, but the truth is that these traditions need to change before they put an end to Greek life completely. While it is hard for our community to let go of things that seem so normal to our culture, and yet year after year inflict problems, it is evident that change needs to occur. As keynote speaker Dr. Bernard Franklin said in his speech, changing the negative behavior and raising the outcomes for our members isn’t just a huge challenge, it’s our most important challenge.

Service, friendship, leadership, and scholarship are the core values that stand behind Greek life. Somewhere over the years these elements have been forgotten as major concerns like social events and competition amongst chapters became top priorities.  As these values have been looked over, I think the members of Greek communities have not realized what a difference they could be making. As members of a National Panhellenic Council chapter at KU we belong to an enormous group of the most intelligent and ambitious women on campus. If we worked together, we could make massive amounts of positive change for our community, and for the world.

I don’t mean to mock something that I am a part of, but after listening to speech after speech about being a leader and inspiring change, it has made me reevaluate my priorities. Fraternities and sororities exist to make men better men and women better women.  Sisterhood isn’t about having matching recruitment clothes; it’s about the bonds that we should be creating. It’s not about getting invited to every date party; it’s about coming together to make a difference on campus, and in the community. Each and every one of our chapters has defined values that they feel are the essence of the organization. If you don’t know what your chapters values are I challenge you to learn them and then ask yourself how your own personal values align with your chapters values.

None of the keynote speakers danced around the issues Greek life faces. They were blunt, and to the point. As a community we can either keep hazing, or stop. We can either keep ignoring our council and chapter’s alcohol policies, or start abiding by them. We can keep thinking that the minimum GPA requirement is okay, or exceed it. We can either hold ourselves to a lower set of standards then our organizations define or hold ourselves higher.

- Ellen is a sophomore Delta Delta Delta majoring in Journalism.

Monday, March 7, 2011

International Badge Day

Today thousands of women around the world are celebrating their fraternal experience by wearing their sorority badge or letters. This year’s theme is “Keep Your Fraternal Experience Close to Your Heart.”
The National Panhellenic Conference created International Badge Day in 1997. The conference decided to celebrate this day in March, national women’s history month. The idea came from a paper written by Nora M. Ten Broeck titled, “A Simple Solution- Wear Your Membership Badge Today”. This article appeared in the 1996 issue of Alpha Sigma Alpha’s newsletter “The Phoenix”. The article details Ten Broeck’s personal experience of wearing her sorority pin to work.

Since then international badge day has expanded to include sororities not just in the National Panhellenic Conference but also in the National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc., National Multicultural Greek Council, National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association and National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations Inc.

Only initiated members may wear a sorority’s badge or pin. Each sorority has a unique design that often incorporates the organization’s symbols, letters and jewels. In the past some sororities allowed members to design their own badges with the help of a jeweler. Now, sororities use one particular jeweler and one specific design.

Pictures of badges from sororities at the University of Kansas can be found below.

Alpha Chi Omega: The badge of Alpha Chi Omega is a golden lyre with three strings and a black scroll emblazed with the Greek letters “Alpha Chi Omega” in gold. The lyre was chosen as the fraternity’s symbol because the organization was originally founded in the school of music. According to Greek mythology, the lyre, a three-stringed harp, was the first instrument played by the Gods on Mt. Olympus.

Alpha Delta Pi: The badge of Alpha Delta Pi is gold and diamond shaped with a black center. The center features clasped hands, two stars and the fraternity’s Greek letters. This design was adopted at the fraternity’s first convention in 1906.

Alpha Gamma Delta: The badge of Alpha Gamma Delta is a monogram of the fraternity’s three Greek Letters with the Delta plain, the Gamma engraved and the Alpha superimposed on the two. The badge is usually gold and can be encrusted in pearls, the fraternity jewel.

Chi Omega: The Chi Omega badge features the fraternity’s Greek letters as well as the organization’s symbol, skull and cross-bones, and their mascot, an owl. The letter “Chi” is set with fourteen stones, which are either pearls or diamonds. Dr. Charles Richardson crafted the first badge out of dental gold.

Delta Delta Delta: The badge of Tri Delta includes three stars set with pearls within a cresent. The Greek letters Delta Delta Delta are in black enamel. Initiates receive a badge with her initials, the Greek letters of her specific chapter and her initiation number engraved on the back. A gold trident may be worn as a badge guard.

Delta Gamma: The badge of Delta Gamma is an anchor wrapped with a piece of rope and includes the Greek letters Tau Delta Eta. The sorority’s original badge was the letter “H”, which stood for hope, the watchword of the founders. The badge was later changed to incorporate the anchor, which is a common symbol of hope.

Gamma Phi Beta: The badge of Gamma Phi Beta features a black crescent moon cradling the Greek letters, Gamma, Phi and Beta. The design has not changed significantly since 1874. However, the badges worn by International Council members differ slightly from those worn by collegians. These badges are larger and feature white crescent moons instead of black. The international president's badge is set with diamonds on the Greek letters whereas other international officer's badges are set with pearls.

Kappa Alpha Theta: The badge of Kappa Alpha Theta is kite shaped with a pearl border. The center is black and white enamel featuring twin stars and the Greek letters Kappa, Alpha and Theta. The four founders proudly wore their black and gold badges for the first time to Asbury's chapel service on March 14, 1870.

Kappa Delta: The badge of Kappa Delta is a gold pin shaped like a diamond, with an emerald at each of the four points. In between each emerald are pearls. The pearl and emerald are the official stones of Kappa Delta. In the center of the pin are the Greek letters Kappa and Delta and the dagger along with the letters "AOT". To those in Kappa Delta the badge not only signifies membership in the sorority, but also represents a commitment to the values of the organization. For this reason, the badge is worn on the left side of the chest and close to the heart. No other pin is to be worn above it or even at the same level.

Kappa Kappa Gamma: The badge of Kappa Kappa Gamma is one-inch long and is a golden key sometimes inlaid with pearls, sapphires or diamonds. The sapphire is the official jewel of the fraternity and is recognized as a symbol of truth, sincerity and constancy. On the stem are the Greek letters Kappa, Kappa and Gamma, on the ward are the Greek letter Alpha, Omega and Omicron. The initials of the badge owner and her initiation date are often engraved on the back.

Pi Beta Phi: The badge of Pi Beta Phi is a golden arrow with the Greek letters Pi, Beta and Phi on the wings. A chain connects the wings to the tip of the arrow. This chain is limited to 12 links, one for each founder. The badge is worn over the heart with the tip of the arrow pointing up. The first badge created by the founders in 1867 featured the letters “IC” on the wings. At this time the sorority was a secret society named “I.C. Sorosis” with the motto of Pi Beta Phi.

Sigma Delta Tau: The badge of Sigma Delta Tau is a gold torch featuring the Greek letters Sigma, Delta and Tau as well as six pearls and a diamond. The torch is meant to illustrate a sense of leadership and enlightenment. The six pearls represent the six cornerstones of the Sigma Delt Tau new member program; Sisterhood, Health and Social Awareness, Alumnae, Retreat, Panhellenic, and Philanthropy. The diamond sits in the flame at the top of the badge This jewel represents scholarship, the most important of the new member goals.

Sigma Kappa: The badge of Sigma Kappa is a one-inch jeweled triangle with the Greek letters Sigma and Kappa in the center. The badge is set with pearls, which was adopted as the organization's national jewel at the 1915 convention. This triangle design was chosen in 1894. Prior to this the members wore a badge with a snake in the form of the Greek letter Sigma, intertwined with the letter Kappa. The serpent can also be found on the Sigma Kappa Coat of Arms. This original badge is now worn by the new members prior to initiation. Sigma Kappa also has four other types of badges. One for alumnae who have participate in the Order of the Triangle ceremony, anniversary pins of 25 and 50 year denominations and a Pearl Court pin given to recognize alumnae with outstanding service to the organization.