Meet My Sister-Daughter!

 

In my post about healthy big/little relationships, read that here, my respect for that role is pretty clear. Having someone look up to you is such a gift, but a tremendous responsibility. In the craziness that was Bid Day, I found myself without a sister-daughter, but what I did have was plenty of love to give! Through our informal recruitment process, I met the girl of my dreams (sounds romantic, right?). As the coordinator for continuous open recruitment, I was excited about Caitlin since she accepted her invitation. I knew that Caitlin was an Alpha Gamma Delta woman the second I met her, yet I had to let her make her own decisions and meet my other sisters.

Two weeks later, I found out that I had been chosen (okay, maybe I begged a little) to help Caitlin through her journey. If I could have done a backflip, I would have!

What can I say? She’s perfect. Why do I love her, you ask?

  • The girl is so devoted to her faith that you have to find God before you can find her.
  • She wants to be a wedding planner. (So, yes, she does have my dress and ring on file)
  • She picks me up from work to get Chick-fil-a. If food isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
  • She gets just as excited about the Mommy-and-me matching letters we’re ordering. Laugh at me all you want, but she understands.
My perfect little one!

My perfect little one!

Caitlin, I can’t wait to be a part of your life and your journey as a sorority woman.

Make Bid Day like Christmas

It’s not even Halloween and everyone’s (okay, maybe just my) mind is on Christmas! But in the sorority world, Christmas came early. In fact, Bid Day was in September. If you’re a sorority woman, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The decorations, the food, and the family make this day equally magical. How can you get the most out of your celebration and make those new members feel special?

BidDay2015

Presents!!

Each new member is a gift and it’s your job as an organization to love and cherish her. This is the first time this woman witnesses your fraternity from the inside and you want this moment to stay with her forever. Let’s make her feel like the Queen she really is:

Genuine excitement

At this point, you’ve been chanting for days and you’re fairly certain your voice doesn’t work anymore. Your feet have swollen two sizes and you’re running on about three hours of sleep. Always remembers:it is your PRIVILEGE to select the women who continue your values. You better cheer like you’ve never cheered before.

 

For goodness sake, talk to them

Recruitment is essentially like a season of Survivor. You’ve now made it to the home stretch and your job is done. Wrong! These women need to make connections as soon as possible in order to feel involved in the organization. Oftentimes, one conversation can change a new member’s confidence completely.

 

Actual Presents

Your recruitment chair has probably had these picked out for weeks, but always ask if you can contribute in some way to the gift selection. This is the first lettered swag your members will have, so make it special.

 

Family

You and your sisters have spent so much time together that those endearing mannerisms have become annoying habits. This is NOT your new members’ problem. Again, this is the first time  these women see you without your walls up. Show them the good, not your sleep deprivation.

 

Reverence

Despite the food and the get-to-know-you games, your ritual reigns supreme in everything you do. Remember the “reason for the season” and weave those values into your celebration. A great way to do so might be to have posters for each value and have your new members write what that word means to them or how they felt this in recruitment. Another cool idea would be to have new members write a letter to their future selves about their goals and hopes. Then, these letters magically appear at the senior cookout. Making memories at its finest.

 

Just remember, whatever you do, do so in love for one another.

IMG_0941

When to STOP Talking

It hurts to be so devoted to an idea that your chapter doesn’t support. No one wants to be told that what they want isn’t going to happen. I distinctly remember pitching an idea to a few of my sisters and suddenly there were crickets. Not a single response. I poured my heart into selling this event and I wasn’t seeing any of that reflected back at me. I remember looking into those blank stares and thinking, “Wow, this sucks!”

The less you talk, the more they listen.

As I listened to them half-heartedly support the idea, I remembered what my Granny always told me: the less you talk, the more they listen. In the week after my initiation, I had launched countless such ideas without any organization behind it. Just throwing ideas out into oblivion. With my new found importance, I had been wearing my sisters out with my grandiose schemes. I needed to shut my mouth.

Have you hit a roadblock trying to garner support for your favorite new cause? Maybe it’s because you won’t stop talking. People are sick of hearing you talk. Harsh, but true. What do you really want? You want to get your way.

–>Let’s figure out how to save your voice for when it really matters.<–

Step 1. Decide what it really is that you want.

For goodness sake, we’re trying to save our breath for when we really want to be listened to. Don’t try to adopt too many causes or no one will take you seriously.

Step 2. Make a plan for implementing your idea.

If it’s an event you want to have, make sure all of the logistics are worked out before you start ‘campaigning’. Especially in larger chapters, don’t expect to be taken seriously unless you have a good idea of what needs to be done.

Step 3. ‘Float’ the idea to key people.

Pick three or four people who you know could have some influence. For example, maybe you want to pick someone from each pledge class or members of executive council. This way, when you announce an idea you already have some supporters. Sometimes, all it takes for people to back you is to see that other people think it’s a good idea. Then, the idea gains momentum.

Step 4. Follow through.

You don’t want to go through all of the work and then the event never happens. That makes people think you lack perseverance. You want to be counted on to do things right. This shouldn’t be too hard, because you’ve already made your plan in step 2. Make sure that you delegate the tasks to different officers as needed and make your event a huge success.
Good luck!

IMG_0941

How to make Recruitment Workshops FUN

IMG_1140

I LOVE RECRUITMENT.

Let me just say that again, I. LOVE. RECRUITMENT.

But, I acknowledge that not everyone else feels that way.

 

Recruitment workshops are the bane of some sisters’ existence. I heard one sister describe her chapter’s trainings as “hell with some glitter on it”. It breaks my heart that some people dread recruitment, because as a collegian it is the greatest honor bestowed upon us. The future of our sorority is in our hands and we make the crucial decision of membership for the next four years. It sounds dramatic, but I feel so passionately that sisters look forward to recruitment, not just tolerate it.

 

The eternal question is: how do you make sisters look forward to buying into the vision?

 

Let’s start with the planning piece. You only need three steps to plan a great training. Then we’ll focus on how to make it fun.

  • Set the Goal

When planning your workshops, try to stick to ONE theme per session. As you apply to your Executive Council for dates on the calendar, make sure that you have enough sessions to cover all of your topics. Not everyone can attend every workshop so make sure you review at the beginning of each time slot. What is it that your chapter needs to work on? For the sake of example, let’s say that movement is an issue for your girls. People bump into each other and transition PNM’s awkwardly. Let’s fix that this session!

  • Plan an Activity

Set scene: you have two hours to make sure your women feel as confident as possible with transitioning around the room.

0-5 minutes: BLAST some pump up music as everyone walks in to set the energy for the evening

5-20 minutes: Take a good fifteen minutes to review the past sessions. Have your poster that you made at the beginning of the year with your overall goal and the breakdown of sessions (see my post on creating quality chapter education). Run through, quickly, the main points of the sessions you have already covered and the overview of this training. End this fifteen minutes with something like: “Alright ladies, now that we’re all on the same page with our goals let’s break down today’s agenda.”

20-30 minutes: Have everyone stand up and wiggle!!! Then start this training.   Bump groups make girls feel way more confident knowing that there is a system in place. Before the session, tape X’s on the floor in your house (or meeting space) where people are supposed to stand. Whether you decide to assign partners, go over your system here. HUGE posters and visuals are necessary here. Maybe using a white board and using magnets to move people around would be helpful. Tell the girls who their partners are and what the X’s are for.

30-50 minutes: Practice the rotations with candy! If you’re at the end of the day, blood sugar is low and it’s time to call in reinforcements (aka mints and jolly ranchers). Get a cool sound effect app and play a weird sound effect to get people in the habit of the timing. Seriously, when you play a cow ‘mooing’ girls will be laughing and the mood should be pretty light.

50-70 minutes: Here I would sit people down and teach the key to rotational groups: knowing your partner. Here I would have a huge poster with an life ring on it and we would discuss “lifesaver questions/topics”. Once girls have these questions to keep in case of an emergency, getting to know their PNM will flow more easily and the partners (or whatever you use) will work more seamlessly. Maybe a sisterhood event designed to get to know your recruitment partner or group would be appropriate?

70-90 minutes: PRACTICE! I like to run rounds using women from other sororities as PNM’s. This way, your girls are a less comfortable and more apt to take the simulation seriously. Keep this section long enough to get the feel, but not long enough to cause burnout.

90-110 minutes: Field any questions about how the workshop made them feel. Ask, “do you feel more comfortable with the new system now?” or “how did the exercise change your thoughts about recruitment?” Get some good feedback and write it up on the whiteboard/poster. Make everyone feel heard!

110 minutes: Always finish early! Be respectful of other people’s time and they will be courteous of your message. Pass out ‘vision sheets’ and throw out some more candy to people who nailed it. Then, of course BEYONCE exit music.

  • Closing Materials

Remember, not everyone was paying attention and most likely no one took notes. I like to provide sheets with the top points. Make it fun and have colorful half sheets of cardstock or something fun (so, hopefully, they won’t throw it away). During polish week, you can pull out these ‘vision sheets’ and refresh everyone’s memory in a short period of time.

What’s your favorite part about recruitment?

IMG_0941

Healthy Big/Little Relationships

Big and Little. Sister-Mother and Sister-Daughter. Talls and Smalls.

 

Whatever you call them, familial relationships within sororities are precious. Especially if you are a member of a large chapter, this niche of people become an integral part of your experience. As Greek life has come into the national spotlight for quite a few negative reasons, one huge positive aspect of sorority/fraternity life lies in the mentoring programs. Whether you have a little and want a better relationship, are thinking about getting a little, or wonder what this weird Greek thing is all about, this post is for you!

These relationships are all about mentoring and support systems. Sadly, many people choose to forge this bond in alcohol because they don’t know healthy way to connect, but that is NOT what this experience is all about. I want to be clear that these relationships are very different at campuses across the country, but here are some ways to get the most out of this from any perspective.

 

If you are a big,

CONGRATULATIONS! Your chapter has entrusted you with a new member who will be the future of your chapter, an incredible honor.

 

DO THIS

  • Weekly lunch dates
    • You want to be a part of your little’s day-to-day life in order to help her through whatever she needs. Eating is not only necessary, but a great bonding time.
  • Help out with class scheduling
    • While this is less relevant for little’s who are upperclassmen, freshmen need help navigating which professors are good and how to sign up for classes.
  • Introduce her to your friends outside of your organization
    • Networking is a huge part of why bigs can be so helpful. She can always use more connections and you should help her do that.
  • Advise her about chapter positions
    • You want your little to get the most out of her time in college and chapter positions are a great way to do that. Make sure she is educated about what these roles include and which best suit her talents.
  • Organize her room
    • Chances are she doesn’t know her roommate and needs some help setting up her room. If you do spring rush, this isn’t particularly necessary, but is hugely helpful for fall rush.
  • Support her activities
    • Play soccer? Student Government President? Gym freak? Do the things she loves with her! There is no better way to get to know your little than through her passions.

 

NOT THAT

  • Alcohol
    • This is the big one! At the end of the day, underage drinking is illegal. It is not okay to solely use alcohol to bond with your little. Plenty of bigs are completely absent until the weekend when the parties roll around. DON’T be that girl. I’m not a prude, alcohol happens in college, but do not use it as a way to buy your little’s love.
  • Only buy presents
    • At first, gifts are exciting! After that, you should be focused on promoting your little’s interests and getting to know her heart.
  • Gossip
    • DO NOT speak negatively of other people to your little. She needs to be able to make her own decisions about people. Your goal is to help her and swaying her feelings about others is not a way to do that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “but I’m protecting her from [insert name here]”. There is a difference between warning her about a shady guy and bad-mouthing a girl for whom you don’t particularly care.

If you’re thinking about becoming a big,

I think becoming a mentor changes who you are just as much as it impacts your mentee. The things you learn as a big transfer to your ‘big girl life’ in incredible ways. [insert ‘how sororities change affect your life’ post link]. It cannot be taken lightly. Here are some things to consider:

  • Are you going to be a senior?
    • Seniors tend to check out. A strong case of senioritis hits right after recruitment and suddenly your little gets lost in the shuffle of your transition to alumna status.
  • Are you in a good place personally?
    • Littles aren’t like puppies that you get to make your life better. They are human beings that need you help. You can’t help other if you can’t help yourself. Low grades? Alcohol issues? Family stressors? Make yourself your first priority, then think about a little next year.
  • Have some savings?
    • Taking a little can be expensive. Depending on how your chapter structures gift giving, you could go broke very quickly. While money isn’t everything, your little has a right to have the same experience as others in her new member class. If you cannot afford her, don’t sign up.

Ultimately, this relationship is a gift that you will value for years to come. Do it right!!

Questions? Suggestions? Comment or email anytime!

IMG_0941