[This piece was written by WatchTheYard.com guest writer Alexzandria Chill | UNT Graduate. Marketing Freak. Frankie Bev Fanatic. Lady of Z-PHI-B and Founder of Blog: @DPTaughtMe]
AYE FAM! This month, we’re focusing on mentorship since it’s officially National Mentor Month. We’ve talked about 3 ways prophytes can be better mentors, where the lack of deference derives from and now we’re talking to the Neos. Yes, our amazingly hype, over zealous, extra eager babies! Because we love our newbies, we didn’t want them to hop on this Greek Life wave without giving them the proper tools to ride it. Here are 9 truths our Neos need to know, but we rarely get to tell them:
9) YOUR GREEKDOM IS DEFINED BY 90% POST INITIATION, 10% PROCESS
Majority of the time when you run into NPHC members, especially if you’re new, people are going to ask you a series of questions like, “You’re Greek? What org? What school did you cross at? What Year? How many did you have on your line? …” From there, 8 times out of 10 they’re going to start diving into “your process” and whatever that may or may not have entailed. They’ll engage you with hilarious, horrendous, mesmerizing and sometimes dramatized stories that sound like something out of a movie.
And while all of this is thoroughly entertaining, no matter how long the person has been in the organization, you will rarely hear them speak on what they experienced after they crossed (outside of parties/probates). Even more-so, it’s hard for them to tell you what’s currently going on in their chapter. This could be because they’re inactive (which could be for a variety of reasons). It could also be because regular events aren’t as “sexy” as probates, stepshows, etc. It could also be because no one has ever really asked them about post-process life outside of prospects inquiring about programs.
Even though your process dictates HOW you start, it does not DEFINE how you continue to leave your mark. Don’t be the pre-process person. The meat of our existence is based on you making an even stronger presence after your probate mask comes off. Brag about the awesome initiatives you’re implementing. Highlight the programs that are making a difference on your campus. Got one better for you: ask your Prophytes and Old Heads what their favorite programs are and why. Probe them about what made it special and how they were able to execute events effectively and successfully. Then, populate your future conversations with those talking points. Divulge the things that make your organization purposeful AND popular.
8) YOUR PARA IS NOT AN ENABLING DEVICE; IT’S A DECORATED WIND BREAKER
Although Greek Life has its perks (socially and professionally), your letters don’t make you infallible or invisible. We all know the rule of not drinking in our letters; that’s a given. But that same kind of caution should be used for other aspects of our lives as well ( fighting, gossiping, promiscuity – no shade, etc). Perks don’t equate to permission. Every “tradition” that’s deemed permissible may not be appropriate. Every stereotype doesn’t have to be entertained.
We have a responsibility to represent our founders and their mission to full capacity and the best of our ability. Now, that does not void out fun. Don’t get it twisted. However, it means you must be more self aware. You are not only Frank or Sandra. You’re now Frank the Frat Brother and Sandra the Sorority Girl. Your organization carries weight and you must carry it gracefully, regardless of how others conduct themselves. If you feel like you might be on another tip for the night, refrain from wearing your letters (and colors) just to keep it careful. We all have our moments; bruh, we’re human. Do you, but be mindful.
7) RUNNING A GREEK ORGANIZATION IS LITERALLY A BUSINESS
We ask you to be accountable because our whole existence depends on it. Our organizations are LITERALLY businesses, non-profits at that. That means there is no room for error. We have stakeholders, investors and community contributors who partner with us financially and socially. Along with our dues and fundraising efforts, collectively, they help us keep our organizations afloat. Each suspension, expulsion, sub-par academic standing, hazing incident, petty politicking, and negative perception of any member, chapter or organization hurts our pockets. Fraternities and Sororities take a huge hit when they have to pay for pledging lawsuits, lose prospects to other organizations and members drop off after graduation to skip Grad Chapter all together.
Businesses run off of 3 things: their reputation, their employees and their consumers. If employees are displaying a poor image of what the organization represents, the reputation of the brand becomes tainted and undesirable, thus resulting in a digression of potential members, sponsors, investors, etc. The more damaging the reputation- the more costly it is for your organization. We can’t afford to let it get to the point of extinction. Do everything you can to counteract this. Check each other constantly in a brotherly & sisterly manner. Aint nobody got time for shade. If you can’t offer solutions or constructive criticism, let someone else do the talking. PLUS, you’re going to need job experience after graduation. Use your Greek experience to your advantage. This is the professional experience you’ve been looking for. Don’t squander it.
6) DISCRETION GOES PAST INITIATION
When running a business, not everyone needs to know your business. Know there are times when the Exec Board is going to have conversations that will be more detailed than those in your chapter meetings. They’re leadership and they have to make tough decisions. If you have an issue with decisions made, vote. If you’re out voted, have a talk with the board. If necessary, go to your Grad adviser. Hopefully, it doesn’t get to that. If you have to voice a concern, you can talk to your chapter members. But if you do, keep it factual and less based on hearsay. Gossip breeds dissension, division and distrust. You’re adults. Talk it out. Compromise when needed. Learn how to agree to disagree when necessary.
At the end of the day, the most importantly, keep yo business to yoself! Don’t go talking your business to people outside of your chapter. Hell, there might be people inside your chapter who can’t hold water. Don’t tell them high priority stuff! They might be great people, they just have a big mouth. Accept them as they are, swerve them when it comes to certain info. It’s not petty or sneaky. It’s called insurance. You don’t want your organization’s discrepancies seeping onto the yard for the world to see. THE ONLY time this is ever appropriate is if someone(s) is being treated poorly physically, emotionally, or mentally. If someone is abusing their authority and it is becoming a hindrance to the chapter, talk to the proper uppers in order to handle the situation. And all the while, keep it inside the chapter.
5) PROPHYTES WILL FAIL YOU AT SOME POINT, INCLUDING ME
All of us make mistakes, including your Prophytes. There will be times when you find us in a compromising position. You may catch us slipping when we’re not presenting ourselves in the best manner. There will be moments when we’re not as available as we could be (or should be). We may be caught up in other things and you’ll feel alone. This is when you tap into the potential we saw inside of you and your line. Challenge yourself. Challenge each other to be a step above our level. It’s all about progression. Don’t become complacent with our capabilities. Always, ALWAYS strive to level up. Sometimes, we lack because our priors lacked and we reflect the slack they displayed. Although we don’t verbalize it as an excuse, there will be moments where our actions will show otherwise. Learn from our mistakes. More importantly, forgive us.
4) PUSH US TO LEAD YOU – OUR LEGACY DEPENDS ON IT
As the saying goes “A closed mouth don’t get fed.” If you’re yearning for mentorship or leadership, don’t be afraid to ask for it. As Prophytes, we’ll get the notion that you have everything you need to get things started. What we neglect to do is remember how it felt when we were fresh on the yard. Although the sink or swim approach might work for some people, that should not be the only teaching strategy.
Expect more from us. Demand more from us. Ask us questions about what it takes to run a chapter. Make us think about what works and what doesn’t. Inquire about how we can do better and where we can implement these improvements. You don’t have to be a bug-a-boo. But be consistent and insistent about learning how to be an intricate factor in your chapter’s success. This will make us step our game up, take us out of our little world and expand our vision beyond the chapter. Our legacies are dependent on what you take in today. Don’t let us leave without making sure we pass down the scepter and the instructions on how to use it.
3) WE WANT YOU TO PROVE US WRONG & RIGHT
We chose you for a reason: potential. Whether that potential is fully grown or needs some development, we saw it in you. It’s your duty to prove us right – show us that the light we saw in you is going to shine, and it’s gonna shine bright. It’s also your duty to prove us wrong – any doubts that we had about you need to be debunked rather than reaffirmed. You can do exceedingly more than we could ever do, IF you APPLY YOURSELF. Show us that you’re serious. Take initiative. Problem solve. Fill our voids. You are the leaders of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Find your groove and blaze your path. We’re privately and patiently waiting for you to make us proud.
2) IT’S OKAY TO BE A GDI
Another reason why we picked you is because you add a unique twist to our story line. Never lose that. If you want to do your own solo dolo thing sometimes, that’s cool. It’s okay to not be with us at every second of the day. It’s fine if you miss a party. You shouldn’t have to feel guilty for attending another organization’s meeting. Spending time with your non-Greek friends isn’t a sin. Dating someone not in NPHC won’t be shunned. Seriously, it’s okay to be a GDI. Also, if you ever feel that Greek Life is impeding on important things in your life (romantic relationships, spiritual relationships, friendships, grades, health, opportunities, sanity, etc), feel free to take a breather. Let someone you trust know you’re stepping off the scene. We want you to be whole and balanced as possible. We’re ONE of the many organizations you belong to, not the ONLY. Don’t idolize us. We’re not that important. Analyze, prioritize and revitalize if you need to step away.
We understand you have a life outside of Greekdom (or you should have one). That doesn’t mean neglect us as soon as you probate. (I mean, we coo-right?) However, we do want to be a part of your life, not the end all-be all of your social activities. Your pre-Greek friends were riding with you before we were. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to bond and our relationships won’t grow. But don’t forget to engage with the things, people, places and spaces that made you who you are and who we love. That’s what got you here in the first place.
1) YOU’RE FOREVER A STUDENT
Even though your process is over, you are never, ever, eva-eva-eva done with learning. (If you read that in Chris Tucker’s voice, I rock with you). There is always something new to take in. Trinkets from history will pop up. Revised and refined ways to do things will be introduced. Words of wisdom will come at a time when you don’t want to hear it, but it’s gonna be oh-so necessary. Greek Life will challenge you and it will come with some interestingly tough jabs. The best way to combat this is to remember, your place – at this moment – is a Neo.
Your education didn’t stop after initiation. Neo literally translates to “New Plant” in Greek. You are in the seed phase. You broke through the soil, but you haven’t established your roots, stem or the bud yet. In order to get to that point, you need nurturing, training and time. You don’t know everything – and you have to accept that. The moment you do, that leaves the door of divine opportunity wide open. The learning curve will be easier to ride, whereas resistance will make it rough. People will be more willing to mentor you. Mentors who will help you avoid the potholes of the post-process and boost your appeal in the Greek world and beyond. Note, we are all in the process of growing into great Greek Life members ourselves, so you’re not alone. We’re all learning together, we’re just a couple of steps ahead. Let us help you so we can elevate our orgs together, mk? Mk.
If I’m missing anything, let me know. Hit me up on Twitter, Facebook or IG! I’d be glad to hear from you!