The Catalyst to a Positive Fraternal Experience

Mid-terms and homecoming and final project deadlines, oh my! October already came and went, and collegians, advisors, and professionals are all likely feeling the stress of the semester weighing down on them. In what often seems to be a make-or-break it month for many of us, rifts begin to surface among many of our students and community groups. Good relationships can help minimize those rifts while also serving as a catalyst to a positive fraternal experience. So how can we, in the middle of an all-out sprint, help each other bridge relationships and remind the full team we are all working together?


Asking students to attend another event may not be the best approach to fostering relationships at this point in the semester. Many of them are already taxed with balancing back-to-back events and classwork. Instead of creating a new program or activity, look for ways to meet students where they are — literally! Plan to attend an existing campus event and ask a student to go with you. Introduce students from different organizations or share commonalities to one another and encourage them as they build their friendship (or something like this). Challenge yourself to find unique ways to promote social capital for others.


Chapter Volunteers & Staff

Chapter volunteers and staff may be busy “keeping the wheels on the bus,” but the success of the fraternity/sorority community is dependent on their knowledge of campus priorities and community goals. It is crucial to provide opportunities for volunteers and staff to develop a deeper understanding of the overall strategic vision. Create opportunities for constructive dialogue to occur and help map organizations’ goals to institutional learning outcomes.

Chapter volunteers should be willing participants and intentional consumers of information. It is admirable to dedicate time to the organization with the desire to leave a mark on the students; however, we must recognize that our students are accountable to a larger campus community. In order to help them succeed, volunteers and staff must be prepared to articulate the relevance and applicability of this information.

Spoiler Alert! Campus environments are rapidly changing. Fraternal organizations should be prepared to identify practices that may prohibit them from embracing an ever changing demographic.

Learn more at Society for College and University Planning’s Trends for Higher Education.


Fraternity/Sorority Life Staff

Remind me again, how are we defining student success? I seem to have forgotten somewhere between our office retreat, move-in, Welcome Week, recruitment, and annual training.

Revisiting strategic plans, departmental outcomes, and program progress may be the best way to refocus staff attention during hectic times. Also, who says assessment has to happen at the end of the academic year? Figure out what results already exist and explore the findings. Are there any implications for practice that may impact our students in more meaningful ways now?

No matter the time of year, committing yourself to student development and leadership is taxing. It is easy to glorify “busy” and lose sight of purpose and objectives. During these times of stress, find time for reflection and intentional connection. When necessary, realign your priorities and lean on others for support. If you happen to stumble, know there is a team of likeminded individuals there to help you get back up again.


Kenna Cornelius currently serves as the Coordinator for Student Involvement at the University of Missouri. She received her undergraduate degree from McMurry University and has a master’s degree in Higher Education & Student Personnel from the University of Mississippi. Kenna is a member Zeta Tau Alpha and volunteers for the organization as a chapter advisor.


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