On Saturday, February 15, Greek Life at UMD participated in the Polar Plunge presented by law enforcement for Special Olympics Minnesota. Greek Life has made a tradition of jumping into the cold waters of Lake Superior in the middle of winter.
"Each year, the Polar Plunge challenges thousands of brave jumpers at numerous locations around the state. It’s a great way for everyone—individuals, organizations and businesses—to get involved in supporting Special Olympics Minnesota. All funds raised go towards programming and events for more than 8,000 athletes statewide" (plungemn.org).
This year seven of UMD's ten organization's participated with 112 members registered to jump. They raised $21,897 for the event. The University of Minnesota Duluth raised $25,191 for the Polar Plunge and is the national leader for funds raised for the College/University group.
The Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values or AFLV is a four day long all greek conference that hosts over 3,500 students and advisors. Three UMD students attended the conference for the first time this year. This was their biggest take aways from the conference.
Ally Cuabo (GLC President) - After my time at AFLV, I have learned many things! This conference has really pushed me out of my comfort zone. From talking and participating in with large groups, being around many people(I’m a little claustrophobic), to navigating a city I have never been to before. I think one of the greatest things that I will be taking back with me, is how I can make a difference in my chapter and hopefully on our campus. A lot of the speakers I went to see talked about how to retain members and how to keep them engaged. Another speaker that stood out to me talked about things successful chapters are doing and what unsuccessful chapters are doing. These were two of my favorite because not only did I learn a lot of great tips, the speakers were amazing to listen to. Another speaker there helped me realized what we can do to be not only better sisters, but be better friends and women in our daily lives. What I hope to implement on our campus and within my own chapter are efforts to market to potential new members what our organizations are really about and not just the aesthetics. I want to showcase our philanthropies and the people those impact and what it looks and feels like to have a Greek family and the love and support we feel.
Max Walker (IFC President) - What I learned from ALFV was a massive amount of greek culture. From learning things like what stepping is and African American students taking back tradition and learning that tradition isn’t always correct and if we want to continue to exist as greek life we need to consistently make changes and improve for the better and continuing to hold tradition because it’s the way we’ve always done things isn’t the correct way to improve or better our greek community.An awesome thing about this conference that we’re lacking here is the diversity of people and events that other campuses have and use to their advantage. A prime example of this was the University of Mississippi where most of their student population is greek and they are then in turn able to use that to improve their community and campus.
Something I’m bringing back to campus is a better understanding of nationals and how to communicate with our nationals for campus issues here. Aforementioned another great thing about this conference was being added to a group chat of nearly 200 IFC presidents where I can pose questions to them and solve our campus issues with what did and didn’t work on their campuses.
I would highly recommend this conference for up and coming leaders within the community to learn effective leadership styles for accomplishing as much as they can in their time at UMD.
Faith Mumphrey (Gamma Sigma Sigma Vice President of Recruitment) - I was lucky enough to get nominated to go to the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values conference in Indianapolis this past January. The conference was a big jump for me as there were around 4,000 other college students there from all over the country and I am a very introverted person. So as you can imagine, it was a little overwhelming at times. Though by the end of the trip, moving through large crowds and talking to other students seemed to come with ease. I learned a lot while at the conference as I attended several informational sessions. Many sessions that I went to revolved around recruitment of new members as I am Vice President of Recruitment for Gamma Sigma Sigma. An interesting take which can sometimes be overlooked should be focusing on our own members before we can improve our recruitment efforts. When we are leading our general members, we should be leading by example and keeping each other accountable. We can’t be better unless we do better. When our new members join our organizations they are educated about our organizations and why we were founded, but often that educational value can get lost as we become older members. Continuing education about the reasons we joined, policy changes, and new opportunities for our members helps to keep all of our members informed and up to date.
A question we should be asking ourselves and discussing in our executive boards and even with the general members is the question of why our members leave? There are 3 main reasons I learned about that I would like to share with all of you and encourage you to think about.
The first is misaligned expectations.
Well we all believe that when we recruit that we are telling our PNM’s everything they should know about our org, that is what new member education is about. Though maybe we aren’t being as transparent as we think. Do our social media platforms reflect how we actually run as an organization? Do we just post the best pictures and make our feeds look trendy? Yes that may get new freshman PNM’s attention, but that does not keep our members. It’s a reality check for some people when we actually aren’t happy go lucky, we love each other every time we see each other, and we definitely do not always dress up in matching outfits. Clearly defining what it is we do and WHY we do it can be harder than you think. Why does it matter to our org and how can they be impactful when apart of our organization? What do they receive by being an active member? Explain to PNM’s how our values show up in our day to day lives. If one of your values is service then what does that look like? How do you achieve the value of service? New members want to know how their lives will change by being in our organizations. Explaining to them how much time it will take out of their week or even day and being honest about that can avoid the differences in expectations versus the reality of being in our orgs.
The second is discord or drama.
If there is drama happening within our organizations then there is a deficiency in our communication. To lessen this, we should practice conflict management within our organizations.
Teach your members about “I” messaging:
If you have a conflict arise
“I feel....(tell the other person how you feel)
....when.......(describe the event that caused your feelings, be specific)
....because.....(explain to them why the event made you feel that way)
....please....”(tell them how you would like the event to be different or what you would like to happen)
How to respond to this:
“I heard you say you felt.....(repeat to them what they felt)
.....when....(repeat the event that caused them to feel that way)
.....Next time, I......(say what you will or will not do)
But why is “I” messaging important? It teaches people how to explain their emotions and how they are feeling in an effective way while also letting people feel heard and understood. If there are continuous issues within the sorority with rules, then explain and keep explaining risk management. Explain all the rules and regulations in terms that they understand. Not only should we explain the rules and regulations but explain WHY we have them in place and WHY we follow them. This can alleviate confusion and hard feelings if and when individuals get brought to the executive board for an issue.
The third is competition.
Members join because they feel as though our organizations will bring something impactful to their lives. You wouldn’t want to play a sport if you do not have fun playing sports, just like you wouldn’t want to join an organization if you do not have fun while in it. Members leave because they are finding value in something other than our organization. If this is the case then we need to work on providing value up front. Infuse new member lessons with skill lessons, make things affordable and worth it to them. Keep our current members by continuously instilling our values into weekly meetings, make meetings fun and interesting. Your members should not dread going to meeting, if they do, then change up how things are done. Show our members why we are valuable and worth staying for.
Now all of these things that I have learned sounds easier said than done and that is true. Enforcing some of these things will take time and effort to plan and get done but you should start now. The effects of what you begin instilling now will likely not be immediate but it will benefit our organizations in the long run. We need to WORK TOGETHER to improve our organizations and community. Meet with other executive boards and ask what issues they are having, brainstorm ideas on how to fix them. Keeping your organization closed off will not benefit yourselves or anyone else. Being open with other organizations and keeping up communication helps to build bridges to community.