Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hunger is NOT an Emotion

One of the on-going jokes in the Student Leadership and Involvement Center is the following dialogue:
Question: "How are you are feeling today?"
Answer: "Umm, hungry."
Response: "Yeah, hunger is not an emotion." 

I seem to encounter this more than others, so I received the Paper Plate Award pictured here for Spring 2011.

If you are in a one-on-one, direct advising relationship with a staff person in the SLIC, you (most likely) encounter some form of "check-in" during your weekly advising meeting.  There is no secret formula or voodoo magic that we work here on the 3rd floor of the Student Life Pavilion.  But, it is always good to know and understand how things work.  Here is a simple guide to Advising Meetings in the SLIC.

  • Your advising meeting will generally follow a pattern...  Each Advisor has their own.  Mine goes as follows: Personal (how are you {Hungry is not the answer}, how are classes, how is the significant other, etc.); Interpersonal (how is Panhellenic Exec., your chapter, your roommate conflict, etc.); Task (what is on our to-do list, what was accomplished this past week, what needs follow-up).  That's it... Advising by the P-I-T model.
Here are a few tips to make your Advising Adventure a smashing success:
  • Come physically prepared.  Yeah, I said it...  Bring a pen and something to write on.  Nothing communicates disinterest more than watching you stare at me while we talk about your leadership position. And, no, your iPhone doesn't count.
  • Come mentally prepared.  Have an agenda in mind, or written down.  Things you need insight/advice about or new ideas you have for making your position and Community better.
  • Think about your position during the week.  There is at least one student each semester that comes into my office super excited about their position, makes a bunch of plans during that meeting and then doesn't have anything done until we meet again.
  • Check email regularly.  Your advisor will love it if you respond to their questions.
  • Keep good social boundaries.  The SLIC is not a museum.  We encourage fun and merriment, but not everyone is comfortable with your bare feet touching everything.
  • The 2 "L" rules:  (1) Don't Lie and (2) Don't Be Late.  Just for the record - lying includes not telling the full story.  And, be on time...  It's one of the ways you show others that you respect them.
  • Be honest about your expectations and boundaries.  If you have a lot going on and can only work on your position 2 days a week during specific times, tell your advisor.  If you only communicate via text, let others know.
  • I know you like Mission Beach and I know you may even choose to drink alcohol, but please do not come into the office smelling like the alley next to the Pennant.  If you're hungover or haven't washed off the smell of the evening before you may be better off rescheduling your meeting.

Fall is soon approaching...  If you want to get on the Advising List for any of our SLIC Staff, you can experience this all first hand!

Advisees (past and present): Things I missed?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Academic Excellence

For many, you do not hear these words often enough:
I am proud of you!

Academic Excellence is one of our Core Values... And, one that I am so proud of our community for demonstrating this on a regular basis.  A few weeks ago, the Spring 2011 Grade Report was released.  I am proud of you!  The All-Fraternity and All-Sorority Averages were higher than the All-Student Average.  We are a community that expects high academic achievement.  And, we meet that expectation regularly.

Here are a couple of quick facts about the Spring 2011 Grade Report:

  • Kappa Alpha Theta and Beta Theta Pi were the top achieving chapters - both overall and active members.
  • Gamma Phi Beta and Beta Theta Pi had the Highest New Member GPA.
  • All 12 of our chapters were above the All-Undergraduate Average.
  • Every Fraternity had a 4.0 Scholar.  Lambda Chi Alpha had 3 members earn a 4.0 semester GPA.
  • Our sororities had 25 4.0 Scholars.  Kappa Kappa Gamma had the largest number with 6 members earning a 4.0 semester GPA.

    This summer I have been meeting with national sororities that are considering applying to join our community.  Over and over these groups comment on the fantastic GPA the community earns.  Today, I was asked if this was a major University initiative.  I was able to honestly share that the recruitment of men and women with high GPAs is a commitment that comes from our chapters.  We recruit students who take Academic Excellence seriously.

    Take a moment to breathe in this success.  Take a moment to celebrate how well we are doing.  Take a moment to feel the pride.  Congratulations on this great work.  Truly, I am proud of you!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    5 Years From Now...

    Someone important to me said to me the other day, "Wouldn't it be interesting to do a study five years from now and see what your students think about all that's happening in Greek Life at USD when they aren't in the moment?"

    I suppose perspective is always important.  When you compare living in the midst of chaos or looking at it through the rear view mirror, sometimes the situation looks different.  I am a different advisor today than I was 10 years ago.  Experience has taught me to be better at some things and created less patience for me in others.  When I started working full time at USD, I had just turned 23 years old the week before.  I had been married for 6 months to my college sweetheart and had a Master's degree and 1 year of Graduate Assistant experience to shape my perspective.  Experiences since that day in January of 1996 (I am 38 for those trying to do the math) have made me different and, I like to think, better.  In the nearly 16 years since, a lot has happened...

    • Facebook
    • Closure of a two fraternity chapters
    • Cell phones that fit in your pocket
    • Hospital visits to check on the welfare of students with alcohol poisoning
    • Birth of my first daughter and adoption of my second daughter
    • Addition of 7 chapters to USD's Greek community
    • Contracting a disease, nearly dying and being in a wheelchair for 3 months
    • Experiencing weddings, commitments and the birth of children for many students I have loved
    • Burying my father and brother within 6 weeks of each other
    • Receiving international recognition/awards for our Greek Community's work
    • Sitting and holding the hand of a student who were felt the world would be better without them in it
    • Texting
    • Receiving a phone call, 3 years after a student left my office hating me, telling me that he was sorry and wished he'd done it differently

    As I look at this list, there are some things that I wish I'd handled differently.  Things that, with hindsight, I could/should have done better.  These experiences have shaped the lens by which I see my life, my vocation, the world.  The older I get, though, the more I realize that while how I feel in the moment is valid, there is often a 5 year out perspective to keep.

    So, the question for each of us to ask ourselves, when we find we are in a moment feeling strongly about something, is "Is the way I am responding to this now the same as it would be 5 years out?"

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    See Action, Take Action: The Dan Plan

    Why is values congruence important?”.  When this question was posed in the Spring 2011 evaluation of The Dan Plan, one of you responded, Because your values should reflect the way you live your life.”  This idea is what Greek Life is all about – it is about helping students figure out their values and then live a life that reflects what really matters to them.  The Dan Plan initiative is a way to get us to that goal.  The Purpose Statement reads: This organization is designed to establish a group of fraternity and sorority members who are committed to personal responsibility and helping other members of the Greek community act in a safer and more responsible fashion.

    During the month of July, an evaluation was administered to all participants in The Dan Plan for Spring 2011.  Just over 28% of the 290 students solicited responded and the feedback was insightful.  The feedback is open to all who are interested.  (Please leave your email in the comments section if you’d like a copy.)

    When we gathered in January for the kick-off retreat, it was impossible to know what the future held.  We are 1/3 of the way into the journey - here is a snapshot of our progress, areas to improve and where we are headed…

    As we stop and assess where we are and where to go, we asked the question, Has The Dan Plan had a positive impact on the Community?  The opinions are varied, but here are the most critical and most positive responses you provided: 

    "No.  It could have a positive impact on the community if it did not push around fake issues in an effort to keep Greek orgs from continuing to disobey the "Administrations" ridiculously restrictive guidelines. (and that's in quotes because we all know that the entity we refer to as the administration is just Mandy pushing some papers around)."
    "No. (It could be better) By being worthwhile.  All it was was talking about your feelings, instead of focusing on more relevant issues to drinking.  Such as how to handle an intoxicated individual... I felt like I was on an episode of Dr. Phil."

    "Yes.  People are able to freely and openly voice their opinions and concerns regarding Greek life. Members are being heard, rather than just the executive board members."
    "Yes. Opened honest and frank communication between different fraternities and sororities. A lot of rumors and misunderstandings were cleared up. I realized that a lot of the other sororities have the same issues we do."

    Next Steps:
    This student-led initiative around Personal Responsibility has finished one semester of a three semester pilot.  IFC and Panhellenic have agreed to fund this program and the University remains committed to supporting a peer driven model for change.  Several chapter leaders and chapter advisors have asked, “Do you think it’s working?”  The response is that it is too soon to tell.  Our community is not yet seeing changes the number of incidents or issues, but we also know that change comes slowly.  As you see above, some are skeptical/angry and some are hopeful.  This is all to be expected.

    This Fall will bring some changes to this program.  These changes are based on feedback that participants provided to their small group (Board of Directors) leader, to the Chair (Dan Martin, Spring 2011, and Elizabeth Lee, 2011-2012), and via the evaluation.  Here are the most significant adjustments.
    • ·      The name will change to…  See Action, Take Action: The Dan Plan (SATA)
    • ·      IFC and Panhellenic Council and the Executive Boards will participate each month.  SATA will be held in lieu of IFC and Panhellenic meetings.  This will allow those leading the community to be directly involved.
    • ·      Monthly meetings will have a topical focus (Greek Life culture, hazing, mental health, etc.) with concrete action plans.
    • ·      Full accountability for chapter participation.  (Spring 2011 was identified as the first semester, and one not enforcing the 25% of membership requirement)
    • ·      Personal testimonials will be incorporated into the monthly meeting agendas.
    • ·      Rising Sophomore members have been identified as an important population to pull into SATA.
    • ·      At least 1 Town Hall Meeting will be held each semester.

    Elizabeth Lee, SATA Chair and member of Kappa Alpha Theta, has worked with your chapter to help them identify an outstanding Board of Directors.  There is a good mix of returning Board members and new leadership.  Elizabeth has been working over the summer to develop both Informational Sessions and the monthly meeting agendas.  She is open to ideas and feedback.  She can be reached at