I probably am the worst person to be giving this advice because I’ve had some trouble with this myself, but I’m working on it. I would like to state this first before we jump into anything. I will never turn away a sister from anywhere or any organization that comes to me for advice on a situation. You can come and ask me anything whether it is about a situation you’re in or if you just need someone to listen. I am always an open ear.
With that let us begin.
Alumna life isn’t what you think it’s going to be, but it’s much better than you could have ever imagined. That being said, you don’t truly realize the influence that alumnae have until you’re sitting in the position yourself.
Understanding Your Influence as an Alumna
As a collegiate, you probably reached out to some alumnae that you trusted from your chapter for advice when you were in an office because sometimes you just needed advice from someone who had held the office. Sometimes you just needed to vent to someone who now has an unbiased ear because though they are still emotionally invested to see the chapter succeed, they are more worried about your mental health and will listen while you bawl your eyes out about the stress of your office.
But once you’re on the other side, you really understand what being an alumna of your organization means to the collegiates. The phones calls asking for advice become hour long conversations of just letting them vent and have a good cry over a situation that has them so frustrated. But you know how they feel and can completely empathize because you’ve been there yourself. It’s one of the best things I have found that makes me feel like I can still contribute to my chapter specifically.
You also need to know that you have to distance yourself from the ladies you know and love. It hurts, trust me I know it. Wanting to be completely into everything at once with them still and knowing you can’t? It really hurts. But it’s important to understand that they need to handle it on their own. It’s okay for them to call you for advice on occasion, especially if it’s something that’s really stressing them out. It’s okay for you to be there as a unbiased listening ear when one of them needs to vent. But you need to understand that there are boundaries that you cannot cross. You don’t have to know everything about the situation. You really just need general information.
Social Media Postings as an Alumna
You also need to understand that even though you aren’t there, your postings about your Greek organization reflects not only on your chapter but on the organization as a whole. If you have a problem with something that is going on specifically within your chapter, then do not go posting it on social media.
I have had my own share of issues with my organization. One of them being a recent issue with a chapter’s charter being pulled for no real reason. I understand that each organization has it’s rules regarding things, but I also fully believe that there should be instances where there are exceptions to the rule. I did post on my private personal Facebook about it, giving my opinion on the situation once I had done my research and had gathered my thoughts on the situation. This was something, though it may not have seemed like it, was affecting more than just one chapter. It affected all of us and still is affecting all of us because of no ability to compromise.
What I am trying to say with this post, belles & beaus, is to be very mindful of your Greek organizations and what you say about them. If you have friends that will be attending school at campuses where there are chapters of your organization, be careful what you post. That could cause them to write an organization on campus off without even giving them an opportunity to show them what they are about.. Tell them to listen to all sides before making a decision. If you are unhappy with something, then reach out to the ones in charge. Do not paint your issues with the problem all over social media. To some if may look as if you are venting, but I can tell you that it will look the opposite to a great deal more. And it’s not just people who have experienced your actions in your Greek Organization.
Your future/potential employers can potentially see these posts. If you’re putting something down that you voluntarily joined, then it can lead to a thought process for any future employer. “If so-and-so is going to publicly put down something because of a small problem, then will so-and so potentially publicly criticise their co-workers and the company in the same manner?” You may lose employment opportunities because of a careless rant about something you feel is unfair.
You also run the risk of creating a reputation for your chapter on campus that will stick around for an extremely long time. Remember, reputations take years to build, but seconds to destroy. And if you aren’t careful, you as an alumna could be the one that brings the whole thing tumbling down to a mass of rubble and give the women you care – or claim to care – so much for issues to deal with for years to come.
Not only are you able to cause problems for your chapter in the eyes of Greek Life on the campus, you can also cause problems with non-Greek campus members. If they just so happen to know your part of a specific organization on campus and someone from your organization asks them to come to recruitment, I can probably say with high assurity that they will find some reason to say no to attending recruitment events. When all you do is hear/see someone put something that they joined down all the time, you are probably likely to take it at face value and not want to join. Simply put, you can ruin recruitment for you chapter as well as potentially ruin recruitment for all Greek Organizations as well.
It’s bad enough we have to deal with stereotypes as it is. Do you really want to potentially ruin Greek life on your campus?
You Get What You Put Into It
My closing comment to this are words that I have always preached to the ladies of my chapter: you get what you put into it. If you make an effort to be at everything and have fun with everyone, then you will create lasting friendships with the women around you. If you choose to break off into a clique with those that you get along with, then you will only have those people in your life to be there for you from the group. For clarification, I mean that you essentially are always present and putting in effort in general. The bonds formed with members typically come while working together in a team effort. I’m not saying you have to try one on one with everyone. I’m just saying putting in the effort to be there and be with your sisters and the relationships will come on their own.
No, I don’t care for everyone that I was around in my collegiate years. Friendships have been broken due to their actions. But I tried my best to be respectful and courteous to everyone. I tried to form a some kind of bond with all my sisters, but if that didn’t happen, then oh well. I can’t say that I didn’t put the effort in. The idea is just to be present and try. Everything else will fall into place on its own.
So with that, I challenge all of you – whether you’re in a Greek organization or not – to go forward in your lives and make an effort to form bonds everywhere and anywhere that you can. If it doesn’t work, then you can’t say you never tried. But if you don’t put some effort in, then you won’t get a single thing out of it.