Many may only see collegiate Greek life as a social group who hides their partying behind community service hours and charitable donations. However, I would like to challenge that stereotype by focusing on the professional development and self-improvement opportunity that is presented to Greek life members – especially those who hold leadership positions. Currently, I serve my one-hundred member sorority as chapter president and work with other officers to maintain a well-balanced, structured, and involved organization.
Fraternities and sororities must operate as a business first, and a socialite second in order to be successful. I would like to point out some key concepts that show the relation between Greek organizations and businesses.
• Divide officers into teams to work on specific areas of the chapter
• Must operate on a strict budget, fueled solely from member’s dues
• Must market themselves well in order to continue to recruit new members
• Have mission statements and values to hold their members to and gear their brand
• Must follow rules from, and report to, their national headquarters
• Have insurance to cover their organization and its members, as well as many policies and procedures in place for holding events
These are just a few points that show how Greek organizations are ran as the ultimate business, combining friendship with professionalism and offering members a great opportunity for personal development.
As president, I see all sides of running a Greek organization and must help every officer no matter what team her position is a part of. My days are filled with constantly making decisions and weighing the consequences. I have learned to make fair decisions that benefit the greater good, while remaining unbiased in the process. I also answer to everyone’s questions and concerns while problem solving when an unplanned event takes place. For example, we had a small crisis with flyers that were made to promote an event we were having. When they came in, we noticed the contact email on the flyers was spelled wrong. After some deliberation, we decided to use the flyers we had and made a new email address with the typo included.
A huge part of running a successful organization is effective and professional communication. Our main forum of communication between officers and the advisory board is emailing. I have learned how to properly send and respond to emails in a professional manner. My communication skills have improved substantially since being a leader of my chapter. I have learned to communicate concisely and format information in the most effective way. I have found providing information in bullet lists is the best way to get members to read messages fully. All of our officers must hold team meetings and get reports of progress in the different areas on their team. Officers are responsible for organizing their own meetings and taking minutes to record what was discussed. Greek organizations teach members to effectively and professionally communicate through emailing, holding meetings, and working with others.
One of the most valuable traits that I am still learning through my presidency, is how to get comfortable with hard conversations. I work closely with our Director of Standards and Ethics to make sure our members are holding themselves to our high ideals and values. If someone is falling behind, it is our job to have conversations with them about why this is happening and what we can do to make sure it does not happen again. These tough conversations become even tougher when remembering that the members of our chapter are also our friends and sisters. As a leader of a Greek organization, I am learning to have these hard conversations while staying in control of myself and the conversation.
Greek life has so much more to offer than the social aspect of the organization, and can truly prepare young adults to join the professional world. Through developing members personally, and developing officers professionally, Greek organizations can offer life-changing collegiate experiences that can’t be found elsewhere.
By Sarah Y Al-Qahtani