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Getting while the Greek is good: We're not all so bad

Greek life is one of the most misunderstood organizations/systems that I know of. The sad part about this is that it's often due to the actions of members of the Greek community that results in this general misunderstanding of our system and what we actually hold important. I'm fortunate enough to come from an institution where Greek life does to meet the stereotypical expectation of being the place for people to party. Sure, we partied, and depending on the person and the chapter in question you may have partied more often than others. That being said, depending on the person or chapter involved, your idea of a party may have meant sleep overs in the chapter room, pranks on your sisters (or brothers), or working to create a better and more inclusive Greek community. However, we had a fairly active Greek community. I would estimate that approximately two-thirds of the major student leaders on our campus were Greek - we were in SGA, Community Living, Campus Ministries, student activities, and a wide variety of honor societies. And we actually worked hard and strove to do good on our campus.

Disclaimer: obviously this statement can't be applied to EVERY member of the Greek community on my campus. But it applied to far more than you're probably thinking.

It's no secret among my friends that I often struggled with my Greek affiliation, and that I would tend to have some personality clashes with some of my sisters. Despite these differences in opinion on how to run our chapter, ways that we presented ourself on campus, etc., being Greek was still a fantastic experience, and joining a Greek organization was definitely one of the best choices that I made while in undergrad. Ask me about my involvement in Panhellenic recruitment and I can easily rattle on for HOURS about how great of an experience I had as a recruitment counselor.

Last night I had the opportunity to chat with a few of the FSU RAs and students at one of their programs. One of these individuals noticed my Greek lavaliere, which resulted in the "Oh you're Greek? So am I!" conversation, with a slight twist. Unfortunately, this individual decided to leave the Greek community because it ended up not being all that they had hoped it would be.

Being highly involved in SGA as high school student, and eventually becoming the president, they had been advised by the former SGA president to become Greek when they went to college. At her institution, SGA was predominantly led by members of the Greek community, and Greek members were the students on campus that had the most impact. So obviously if you wanted to be involved in SGA, you should go Greek. Unfortunately, they learned otherwise upon their arrival. While yes, Greek members play a large, and apparently a rather dominant, role in SGA and other student organizations, the impact that this particular chapter had on campus was not nearly as great as this individual had hoped, and the chapter's focus wasn't what they had claimed it would be.

Disclaimer: I do not believe that in order to make an impact on your campus that you must be a member of the Greek community. Some of my closest friends, individuals who are some of the strongest and best students leaders on campus, are not Greek individuals. And the impact that they've made on their campus is immeasurable.

I'm under no illusions that Greek life is the same at every institution. Many schools, especially larger state institutions, tend to fall into that stereotypical Greek organization category. Sure, their large numbers mean that larger checks may be written to their designated philanthropies, but the number of actual philanthropic events held are few and far between. At those schools, Greek life is certainly more of a social status than it is about making an impact on your campus and in your community. I'm all for fun, I really am. And while the Greek community should definitely be and have fun, I'm 99.99% sure that each and every one of our organizations has something in its mission, ritual, or open motto about how your actual purpose is to further advance your members, your institution, and/or to do good for any and all that you can. Several Greek organizations were founded upon Christian principles, the main of which is to help those that are less fortunate than you: the weak, the downtrodden, the outcast. If you're not striving to live up to your organization's standards, if you are not living your ritual every day, then you might want to consider taking off your letters.

Greek life struggles with the way it is perceived by non-Greek members, institution administrators, as well as the general population. We, as Greeks, should be doing everything we can to refute the bad image that other Greek life members unfortunately give us. Because if each and every one of us did this, then there wouldn't anyone left to give us a bad image. And then maybe everyone would see how great of a community that Greek life really is.

New days in a new department

 For the most part, I'm a people person. I may joke about not liking people occasionally because they have feelings or act in a less than intelligent manner, but overall I enjoy my time in the presence of others.

However, some days you just need to take some space away from people who want to interact with you to reflect or think or write or work or simply relax. And today is simply one of those days, which has resulted in me camping out in a local coffee shop with my headphones in, a to-do list to work on, and a good book to read (And if I'm feeling extra adventurous maybe I'll even write some slam poetry - who knows, the possibilities are endless here!). Taking this time to focus on myself means I get to do some needed self reflection, which never hurts.

Today was the first day of headstaff training! It was a fairly basic, slow paced day. We discussed what training would look like and went through an overview of the department and how to best handle the transition to Florida State. Being the type-A person that I am, even this relaxed, beginning session was great. Finally having a schedule in my hands that outlines when and where I need to be these next few weeks has taken away a great deal of the anxiety I've felt since prepping for and transitioning into making FSU my new home. But now that I've put dates and times into my wonderful planner (aka my best friend and life partner) I can simply sit back, relax, and hopefully enjoy everything that I learn from these new and wonderful professionals I'll have the opportunity to work with these next two years.

This morning made me really hopeful and excited for what's to come. I know that there are going to be a great number of challenges that I'll have to face, both professionally and personally. However, I know I'm going to have the opportunity to learn a number of new things, which is something I've always enjoyed doing. I'm also incredibly excited for the people I'm going to meet. Everyone brings something different to the table, and having the number of people here that I do that I can learn from is wonderful. I'm excited to hopefully find some new mentors, to find people that are inspiring and encouraging, and to help others learn while also learning things myself. So far (though I will admit that it's incredibly early on in the game), it looks like I'll be able to get all of that and more.

All in all, today was a really great day. Can't ask for much more than that.

From Cape Coral to Tallahassee: A fresh start

This past Tuesday I started my journey at FSU! I am pursuing my Masters in Higher Education Administration while working as an Assistant Coordinator for University Housing. After a seven hour-long trip on Tuesday I finally reached my new home, and to say it's amazing would be a severe understatement.

The Housing Head Staff has been so wonderful and welcoming. Everyone is incredibly genuine and helpful, and they have all done their best to ensure that us new folks are happy and comfortable in our new homes while letting us know that we can come to them with questions about anything that comes to mind.

I'm sure over the next two years there will be many posts about my job, some raving about how much I'm in love with it while I'm sure there will also be others that consist of my tears and cries for my bed at home complete with the company of my parents and my puppy and being far, FAR away from the students I'm working with. Because I'm sure that these posts will follow, that's not what I want to write about today.

For the past few months I have been so focused on getting to this point, and now that I'm here I've been able to reflect on where I'm at now and really think about what I want to accomplish. If my life was an English paper, I've had time to come up with the "So what?" that will support every example and occurrence that will follow (This is for you, K. Huney, Bek Bek Sauls and Dr. Buck, not that you'll ever read this. I learned my lessons well!).

I'm following this career because it's one of my passions. As a college student I was that RA that truly did buy in to the idea that Residence Life offices and their employees truly can make a difference in the lives of the students who decide to make their campuses their homes. I bought into this idea because I saw it happen not only in my life but in the lives of the students that I was blessed with the opportunity to work with. Because of this proof, because I've seen it work, I've decided to dedicate my energy to students who are trying to better themselves and to gain experiences that will help make their lives not only more profitable, but more enjoyable. Yes, I will become jaded at times from the demands of this field. I'm not so delusional or naive as to believe otherwise. My views on this field will change as I gain my education and begin to learn the theories and concepts behind everything that is Student Affairs. I'll learn why this is such an effective and impactful career.

With that being said, Residence Life is not my only passion. I'm incredibly dedicated to human rights and equalities, especially women's rights. I think that those of us with a voice who are in a position to use it should in honor of and for those who can't use their own. I'm a feminist who demands to be heard, and I'm a humanitarian to the core. I'm not happy unless I'm helping others reach for and achieve their own happiness. I'm also insanely passionate about my faith, now that I've found it. Coming into my faith so late in life has shown me how truly important it is, and now that I have it I hope to never lose it again. I'm also still passionate about literature and writing. I think these things are so important because it's only through words that we can truly understand one another and express ourselves to our fullest abilities.

Essentially, I'm using this post as a public reminder (or proclamation?) to not let my work and new school overcome everything else in life. "Work/life balance" and all that.  I'm promising myself to still pursue my other passions. I intend to check out (and hopefully become involved with) the Wesley Foundation here on campus, rooting my faith and humanitarian efforts soundly and securely in my new home. I intend to pick up creative writing again now that I've finally found myself able to start putting words on paper again. I intend to check out any women's advocacy or feminist groups in the area. I want to make this place my home for the next two years, and that means being fully comfortable and able to be myself.

I'm so excited for this new chapter of my life, and intend to enjoy it as fully as I possibly can.