Thursday, June 23, 2011

Broken People

Thank you for those of you that have shared feedback on the 3 questions I posed.  I will keep you updated on how this information helps to inform our future - and all of our plans.  As we prepare for the new semester of "The Dan Plan", it is helpful to have student opinions.

I have been thinking a lot this past week about "Broken People".  "Broken People" are those (per my dictionary) that are in despair, having a break from tranquility, divided, disconnected.  We have a lot of people hurting in our community.  A lot.  More often than you would imagine, students are in our offices sharing that they just don't know if they can do it any longer - they can't keep up the facade, the Super Leader mode, the smile when they are dying inside.  In the context of organizations based on Brotherhood and Sisterhood, I continually wonder how we can do more to support those in our midst that are broken?  We have those among us, maybe you, that are carrying a load that is too much, too challenging, too hard to handle.  What do we, as a community, do with that reality?

The examples I share are over the course of the past 3 years - but, please know that there are many with these experiences.  Here are the ways that I experience your peers as feeling broken.  It is my privilege to accompany you (and your peers) as you face these things, but I only see about 10% of our community on a regular basis.  I am overwhelmed when I say that I have interacted with members of our community about all of these issues over the past 3 years?

  • Parents divorcing
  • Parent death
  • End of a significant relationship
  • Unable to pay for tuition
  • Lonely - even in the midst of a crowd
  • Parent with a substance abuse problem
  • Deceit in a trusted relationship
  • Sibling moving away and losing that support
  • Suicidal
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Arrest
  • Anxiety
  • Major illness: Family members or self
  • Poor grades
  • The drive for perfection - and not being able to attain it
Seem familiar - To you, your best friend, your roommate, your brother/sister?  Is anyone really asking the hard questions to allow us to  be a community that truly cares and supports?  Or, are students on their own -  not sure how to care for each other or develop true, authentic friendships?

How do we support each other?  How do we move to a place of asking more than "How are you?" and moving on?  How do we reach out to those that are feeling isolated?  How do we truly wait for an answer to hear how others are REALLY doing?

As I consider the idea of community, I ask you to consider:
Why does it matter if "we" are OK?


  1. Sometimes when you are a leader, you have to look like you have it all together. No one wants to hear me say that I am having a hard time.

  2. Unfortunately, I think that the problems Mandy has described is one that affects a lot of college students. Perhaps an important reason to explain why individuals join Greek life is because they want to find a place where they can cope with these situations among people who care about them as their brothers or sisters.

    As a Greek community, however, it is vital that our members follow through with their commitment to one another and ask the "tough" questions - not just the quick, "how are you?" By joining a chapter, we promised that we would become a support system for each other, but if we're simply doing this superficially, then the underlying purpose of a sorority or fraternity cannot be achieved. We can't help the San Diego community if we can't even help our own community. I think this is why it matters if we're "okay."

  3. I think the problem is that leaders are willing to admit that they are in a moment of weakness or feeling overwhelmed. I think that as a leader, with all the potential problems that may arise, if they are not level headed, they the whole organization as a whole seems to also be dysfunctional. Thats why, I think that it's definitely a two way street on this topic.

    As members, there are always signs to see when leaders are becoming agitated or not feeling that great. Thats when as members, we need to make sure that we hold ourselves to a higher standard because I think that a lot of members don't realize the burden that presidents and other leaders have on their shoulders as leaders. Moreover, these leaders also need to open up with their members during tough situations. As a result, slowly barriers will be broken down and the feeling of putting up a wall ideally will go away

  4. I think the finding a sense of community is very important. A broken person will be able to heal when surrounded by people that care about them. That's why I think that the Greek Community is so important. It is a place for support and a place where friends can look to one another during moments of weakness to find help and love.
    Authenticity is important. Therefore, it is important to surround yourself not only with people but with good people. They may be hard to find, but it takes finding peers in good settings that will influence you in a good, genuine way.

  5. I believe we do, as a whole greek community, have a problem really finding out what is going on in each others lives. I think a good start is the Dan Plan, where we are at least getting together, starting to talk about issues, and how people are feeling. It is being done as a greek community, where I feel there are not many meetings such as this where members from different chapters can really start to open up to each other in a comfortable way.