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.

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