Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Closing My Chapter and The Last Question

Last month I had an experience that I never imagined would be mine...  I went back to the chapter house where I had lived for 3 of my 4 years as an undergraduate to collect all of the ritual equipment for Kappa Alpha Theta.  The decision had been made earlier in the month the revoke the charter of my chapter.  The chapter that taught me what sorority meant, was closed.  And, I was the volunteer that sorted through 60 years of history to determine what was shipped back to headquarters for storage until the chapter once again exists.  As I packed up the ritual materials, robes, President's gavel, etc. it occurred to me that I would never wish this upon anyone.

As I walked through the house - pausing at different rooms I had lived in, I was reminded how important my experience with Theta was to me as an undergraduate.  For me, it led to a vocation.  For me, it became so much more than something I did while in college.  (I attribute much of that perspective on my role as a Panhellenic officer - but that is a story for a different post.)  The fact is that we were a mess.  A big mess.  We had leadership that people didn't follow, risk management problems (read - kegs), members that didn't care and more.  We were selfish and self-focused.  And, it never occurred to me to ask the question - "What should we be doing?"  We were fun, we were popular, were pledged who we wanted, we had exchanges with an exclusive group and we were friends.  I will honestly say - we cared about each other and took care of each other.  But, we only cared about ourselves.  We didn't use our influence to look at the bigger picture.  Heck - I am not even sure we knew a bigger picture existed.  That was the early 90's. (yeah - I know, the years of your birth!)

I have not been involved with my chapter nor served as a volunteer for my organization for the past 4 years.  Exactly what happened to cause their closure isn't something I know a lot about.  I know that the group lost their way and weren't providing a good experience for their members.  I would venture a guess that the selfish and self-focused went from a focus on Theta (as opposed to the larger community) to each individual.  As I was asked to meet with women who were active members this past year, there was a sense of deep sadness among them.  The experience should have meant more.  The experience should have been better.  Someone should have asked - "What should we be doing?"

So, I am here with the 3rd question our Advisors Group grappled with last month at our meeting -
What are our "To Do" items?  What should we be doing?

Perhaps if we get some solid responses, I will dig out some good 90's hair photos of the SDSU Greek experience.  Until then, I appreciate your thoughts.


  1. Being consistent - not playing favorites, holding all to the same standards.

  2. Alexa DespotakisJune 16, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    I agree with that. I think everyone needs to be on the same playing field and needs to be held accountable to the same set of standard.

    However,I will say this: being from a chapter that had consistently struggled in recruitment for the last few years has taught all of our members a great deal about learning what we could be doing better and how we could improve ourselves. We weren't in any serious danger of losing our charter, but if we continued down the path we were on, that could have become a very serious possibility. In order to make sure that this did not happen, my chapter elected a strong group of passionate leaders to help turn us around. We sat down with our entire chapter and discussed how we could improve ourselves and become better, more successful women. Because we worked hard and stuck to the values that we had set as a group, we were able to reach quota, which something that we had not accomplished in years.

    I think if the all of the executive boards in greek life sat down and discussed how we could improve our community, we could have a similar result. If we could agree on a specific set of standards to hold our members to and then took this back to our individual chapters and discuss this new standard code with them, explaining that they would be held accountable to the new standards, this could help. If people truly care about their respective houses, they will understand the severity of the situation we are in and embrace these changes, and if they don't, well, honestly, they will probably drop. However, if they are not willing to give up downing large amounts of alcohol before every event (or whatever the scenario may be), they are probably not the people we want in this community anyways.

    I know it is asking A LOT of only a small section of each chapter, but the people on exec boards were selected to run their chapters for a reason. It is an extremely difficult process to rewrite the values and standards of your chapter, but it can be done. It is not an easy road to travel, but the reward of having an all-around more successful (and ultimately happier) chapter makes everything completely worth it.

  3. You need to take this down immediately, you put ritual secrets on this public site and that is NOT okay.

  4. Anon: what ritual secrets do you see here?

  5. Ritual materials is private. Nobody but a Theta should know what those are.

  6. Anon - Nobody but a Theta did in this example.