Saturday, August 29, 2015

Should I Become a SEMO Greek?

If history is any guide, about 1,000 Southeast students over the next few weeks will ask themselves, “Should I go Greek?” The truthful answer for each person is different; however, for some I argue the answer is, “NO YOU SHOULD NOT GO GREEK.”  In my opinion, and I will speak only for me, Greek Life provides a transformational leadership opportunity that impacts your college experience and if you let it, the rest of your life. Each summer I try and attend the annual float trip for my fraternity where Southeast alumni, some from across the nation, gather in Steelville, Missouri to spend the weekend catching up with one another and sharing stories. Social media is a poor substitute for a camp fire on a Saturday night where you share the latest about family, friends, and in some cases the fraternity brother's we’ve lost over the past year.   

As with any major commitment in one’s life, you should not jump into Greek Life without thinking. I believe being part of a fraternity or sorority is harder than not being part of one. There are time, effort, relationship, and financial commitment that come with being part of a sorority or fraternity. This in NO WAY means being in a fraternity or sorority makes you better, special, or a more talented person that someone not in a Greek organization. What it does do is provide you a forum where you can make yourself better, make your peers better, and make your University and community better.  It also means you aspire to be held to a higher standard and if that weight it too much for you, the answer is, “No” you should not go Greek.

In my experience I believe many students aspire to be part of something and Greek Life may be this for some you. For others it may be an athletic team, ROTC, the arts, Student Government, etc, however, I still believe most students should consider at least participating in rush/recruitment. This does not mean you join, in fact it does not mean you even have to do much, but at least give yourself a chance to consider the possibility. If you find the values of Greek Life appealing to you, then the answer is, “YES YOU SHOULD GO GREEK.”

Proud SEMO Greek Alumnus

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What's Up with Meal Plan Changes?

With a new school year comes change and this year there are some exciting changes to dining service on the Southeast campus. Of course, there is one not so exciting change as well, but first let’s start with the good news. 

Good News

Dining Hours: The major dining venues on campus--Towers, University Center, and St. Vincent’s Commons---previously closed at 7:00pm each night after dinner. These venues will now be open until 8:00pm for dinner. This is a request that has been at the top of student requests for more than three years and the new contract allows us to make this major change in our meal service hours.

Weekend Meal Service: For the first time in more than two decades, the meal service on both sides of campus, the south side (University Center) and the north side of campus (Towers), as well as St. Vincent’s Commons, will serve brunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday. For students on the south side of campus, this may be the most significant change.

The new (Second) Subway service line
Subway Squared: Subway completed a renovation this summer and a second full service sandwich line was added. This, along with the staff to manage this line, will provide for much faster service. Fun fact… we did more than $1,000,000 in sales of sandwiches at the campus Subway! The construction photo shows the new service line at Subway being installed two weeks ago. 

Costs: The meal plan rate did not increase from academic year 2014-2015 to this academic year. Students pay the same for a 15 meal plan this year that they did last year. The structure of the meal plan has changed (expanded hours, Subway squared, roll over flex, weekend service) but the basic cost has remained the same. 

Bad News

Meal to Flex: Each year there are meals that go uneaten by students. Some students have a 15 meal plan and miss three meals one week, another two the next, etc. In the past, these meals rolled over to $1.50 in “roll over flex.” Of course it was great to get something for a missed meal, however, the $1.50 in flex was not close to the value of a meal in any of our dining venues and was, when you break down the math, not a great way to try and gain additional flex.
  • One actual student example from last year involved a student who missed an average of four meals a week, on a 15 meal plan. These missed meals rolled over to $6 in roll over flex or $192 in flex dollars for the year.  This same student could have lowered their meal plan from a 15 to a 10 meal plan and saved $270 in cost. If they used this $270 savings to buy $192 in flex dollars/Redbucks they would have saved almost $80 in cost and still had the same level of flex dollars.

This pattern of usage was not uncommon and, because of the low value of missed meals, the Dining Services Committee chose to explore other ways to improve the meal plan to expand access in order to allow students to use their meal plans in more flexible ways than in the past.

IMHO Other Cool Random Stuff:
  • In addition to late night breakfast on the Monday of exams, there is also now a Tuesday night “pizza and pasta” late night dinner offering at no cost to students, and Wednesday late night dessert bar scheduled for each final exam week.
  • Last year, there were two “premium” meals each month (think steak night) and this year there will be three “premium” meals each month.
  • At least three “Cooking 101” classes each month lead by the RD for Chartwells where the RD will work hands on with students to cook meals. These meals, both their recipe and cooking method are designed for students to be able to cook in any of our residence hall
  •  A new program for partnering with International Students to have an “authentic meal” provides as an additional option on a rotating basis at different times throughout the semester.

Updates on Panda Express and a change at Chick-fil-A that everyone will approve of coming soon.    

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Greek Week 2015... Showcasing the #WillToDo

Last week our Greek students experienced one of those rites of passage where the works of Dickens, “it was the best of times it was the worst of times,” rings so true… GREEK WEEK. 

After all the time and effort by 1,000 plus students, the lasting results are clear for everyone to see. While this will not land on the front a major newspaper or be the lead story on CNN, the success of Southeast Missouri State University Greeks is none the less news worthy. I am proud of the work by our Southeast Greeks and thank them for their efforts to improve the campus and Cape Girardeau community. The evidence of this impact is easy to quantify: 

  • 899 units of blood donated, special shout out to the ladies of Alpha Delta Pi for their outstanding work winning the Cup for their support of this program
  • More than 35,000 can goods donated to the local food pantry
  • $8,500 donated to the United Way
  • $5,000 donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters
  • $1500 to The Bobby Christman Foundation in Honor of Bobby Christman, Sigma Phi Epsilon
  • $1500 to the Sigma Chi Foundation in Honor of Michael Upperman of Sigma Chi
  •  $1500 to Mid-America Transplant Services in Honor of Austen Lamb of Delta Chi
  • Partnership with local Special Olympics helping put on a great experience for more than 350 athletes. You can read more about this at The Southeast Missourian even ran an editorial noting the Greek student role in this special event

Greek Week is a mix of service and competition and it is in my opinion that this mix is what makes the week so special. The ability of our students to spend time committed to service and then turn their attention to competing against one another is not like other activities on the Southeast Campus. Additionally, Greek Week provides an opportunity for Greek students to recognize their peers for outstanding work over the past year. Listed below are the results of the Greek Week events and the chapters/individuals recognized for their work over this past year.

Greek Week: 

Overall Spirit:
1st Place, Alpha Delta Pi, Sigma Chi
2nd Place, Alpha Xi Delta, Sigma Nu, Phi Delta Theta
3rd Place, Alpha Chi Omega, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Tau Kappa Epsilon

Greek Sing:
1st Place, Alpha Xi Delta, Sigma Nu, Phi Delta Theta
2nd Place, Alpha Delta Pi, Sigma Chi
3rd Place, Sigma Sigma Sigma, Lambda Chi Alpha, Delta Chi

Overall Greek Week:
1st Place, Alpha Delta Pi, Sigma Chi
2nd Place, Alpha Xi Delta, Sigma Nu, Phi Delta Theta
3rd Place, Alpha Chi Omega, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Tau Kappa Epsilon

Greek Student Awards (chosen by Order of Omega):

New Member of the Year: Cole Hartmann, Delta Chi
New Member of the Year: Alexis Strieker, Alpha Delta Pi

Sophomore of the Year: Sean Thomas, Sigma Nu
Sophomore of the Year: Jilleun Schmitt, Delta Delta Delta

Junior of the Year: Parker Butler, Lambda Chi Alpha
Junior of the Year: Julia Bommarito, Delta Delta Delta

Community Service Award: Zachary Cox, Lambda Chi Alpha
Community Service Award: Lauren DeNault, Alpha Chi Omega

Unsung Hero: Clay Dawson, Lambda Chi Alpha
Unsung Heroine: Ashley Bocek, Alpha Delta Pi

Advisor of the Year: Nate Wills, Sigma Chi
Advisor of the Year: Susan Leming, Alpha Delta Pi

Professor of the Year: Dr. Jim McGill

President of the Year: AJ Collins, Delta Chi
President of the Year: Cassidee Bowen, Alpha Delta Pi

Man of the Year: Austin Cordell, Delta Chi
Woman of the Year: Caitlin Jasper, Alpha Delta Pi

Accreditation Awards (Based upon chapter submission of accreditation materials)
IFC Chapter of the Year: Delta Chi
Panhellenic Chapter of the Year: Alpha Delta Pi
Academic Achievement: Alpha Delta Pi
Chapter Operations & Management: Gamma Phi Beta
Membership Education & Development: Alpha Delta Pi
Recruitment & Sustainability: Alpha Xi Delta
Philanthropy & Community Service: Alpha Xi Delta
Stakeholder Relationships: Delta Chi
Risk Management: Lambda Chi Alpha

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What is Right about Greek Life: ΑΦΑ "Go-to-High-School, Go-to-College"

I want to pass along a thank you to Xi Gamma chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha (a fellow chapter founded at Cornell, like my home chapter of Delta Chi) for their work with the "Go-to-High-School, Go-to-College" program. This program was established in 1922 and focuses on the critical role that education; in particular higher education plays in a person’s long term success.

Derrion Henderson shared the following details with me about why he and his chapter participates in this program. “Statistics prove the value of this extra impetus in making the difference in the success of young African-American men, given that school completion is the single best predictor of future economic success. Through the Go-to-High-School, Go-to-College educational initiative, young men receive information and learn strategies that facilitate success. Alpha men provide youth participants with excellent role models to emulate.” 

The Xi Gamma chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. hosted this program during the University’s Homecoming weekend to take advantage of the many events that occur across campus. The chapter partnered with College Bound and identified 10 African American male students from the St. Louis region to bring to campus. The chapter managed all aspects of the students visiting, including meals, seminars about getting accepted into college, living on campus, Greek life and student life, and the overall college academic experience. 

Derrion shared with me that he, “had an amazing time with the students as we laughed, joked, and watched the football game. Afterwards we headed to the NPHC Stepshow where the students got to see and feel of how it was to be part of Greek life. Students saw us stroll and step and really enjoyed the show.” 

Listed below are some of the comments the men of Alpha Phi Alpha received for their work with these students. 

Kimyatta Smith, College Bound shared, “We want to tell you how much our boys enjoyed the Go to School Go to College event last Saturday. Several College Bound students texted me after the trip telling me they wanted to attend SEMO next Fall and possibly one day become Alpha men! As a SEMO alumna , I am overjoyed when  students are able to see the hidden gem that is Southeast Missouri State University! Also, I cannot speak highly enough of the Xi Gamma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha.”  

 In addition some of the students shared with the College Bound staff their thoughts on the visit to campus.
     I really enjoyed going to SEMO. The step show was a lot of fun and I learned a lot from the guys there. They also took care of us and tried to keep feeding us even though we were already full.
     I was surprised that I had as much fun as I had. SEMO was great and I really want to check it out next year. I learned a lot on the tour and it was cool hanging out with the Alphas.
     I wanted to go to SEMO before going on the trip but now I know what kind of student I want to be at SEMO. I enjoyed learning about the different things the Alphas do and I really enjoyed the step show. It was so fun
     I didn’t know anything about fraternities before going on the trip. Now I hope to be part of one. It was great to learn how the Alphas help members be successful students and contributing members of campus. I also loved seeing the level of community at the step show. I had no idea that SEMO would be like that.

Greek Life often finds its self showcased of an example as what is “wrong with college students.”  While we can’t force people to change their views, we can provide examples of what it means to be a fraternity man and the men of Xi Gamma chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity provided a great example on Homecoming weekend of what is so very right about Greek Life. I want to thank the gentlemen of Alpha Phi Alpha for your work with these future college students.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Greek Life Recruitment Congrats!

Wow… what a few couple weeks and Greek Life at Southeast is off and running. I am in the group that which argues that nothing is more important to the future of a fraternity or sorority than its new membership recruitment/rush/intake process. The way you recruit members, the reasons you provide for joining your brotherhood or sisterhood, the expectations these new members have as they begin to learn about their chapter set the foundation for what the chapter will be in the near future.

In some cases these new members make their impact felt right away, in other cases, it takes a year or two, but within the new members of our organizations are the future leaders who will take over responsibility for chapters that have been on the Southeast campus for decades, in some cases longer than half a century. I would ask that the weight of that be considered, some students who are 18 years today, will in two years take over responsibility for a chapter that has thousands of alumni and has been on the campus since before the student’s parents were born.

It is this transformational leadership experience that I think still showcases one of the most direct and lasting benefits of Greek Life. It does not matter if you are the President, social chair, treasurer, or the member responsible for intramurals, Greek Life requires you learn to manage processes, develop skills to manage people, and work within large groups to try and accomplish specific goals.

It is with this proud tradition of Greek Life at Southeast Missouri State University in mind that I want to add my welcome and congratulations to the newest members of the Southeast Greek Community. Based upon numbers reported by individual chapters and the Office of Greek Life there more than 420 new members of our Greek community.

Listed below are the individual chapter new member numbers, as reported by chapters. 

National Panhellenic Conference (252 reported new members)
Alpha Chi Omega – 41
Alpha Delta Pi- 45
Alpha Xi Delta- 35
Delta Delta Delta- 44
Gamma Phi Beta- 44
Sigma Sigma Sigma- 43
This is one of the best years in recent memory for NPC and with approximately 50 more women having accepted bids to join the Greek community than last year.

Interfraternity Council (172 reported new members)
Delta Chi - 24
Lambda Chi Alpha – 18
Phi Delta Theta - 13
Pi Kappa Alpha - 24
Sigma Chi - 32
Sigma Nu - 13
Sigma Phi Epsilon - 31
Sigma Tau Gamma – No numbers reported as of 9/15/14
Theta Xi – 17
Tau Kappa Epsilon – Interest group for current year; No numbers reported as of 9/15/14

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC)
Intake process has not begun at this point in the semester.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Difficult Conversations in the #seorl Residence Halls

Few places provide for the kind of experiences, conversations, conflicts, and lasting memories as a residence hall. Most of us can recall some of our best moments in college around the events that took place on our floor, in the quad, or some other event that happened because we lived on campus. The possibility for these kinds of experiences only happen because we are living with people who are not just like us! While these differences in people allow for great things, they also require we work to try and understand others as we develop as individuals. 

As our students arrive back on campus and we all watch the events in Ferguson, Missouri (as well as other places around our nation) some of our students may wish to discuss a variety of related topics as they spend time on their floor, in the hall lounges, and hopefully in the classroom. As a RA the first thing you must know is that you should not feel obligated to bring this subject up with students. While some students and staff may develop programs or activities around the events in Ferguson, and certainly a college or university campus is an ideal venue for examination of the issues that are on display over these past days, this is not something you should feel you must do.

Engaging in these kinds of discussion is critical to our communities; however, you should not run blindly into trying to lead such an organized activity if you don’t have the training or skill set to deal with the anger and feelings that can quickly escalate from these types of discussions. If you do discuss this subject, please keep some of the following guidelines in mind. Some suggestions for facilitating discussion regarding events around Ferguson, or any controversial topic, include the following:

·         Make sure that residents feel physically and emotionally safe in all aspects of the discussion
·         Establish ground rules
·         There will be times we will agree to disagree, etc… This is not wrong
·         Define respect
o   No use of derogatory language or labels
o   No singling out individuals to speak for an entire group of people
o   Listen to what is being said rather than formulating a response to how they are wrong
o   No monopolizing the conversation – consider establishing a maximum amount of times each individual can comment so that all can be heard
·         Know your level of influence and responsibility in this community; you occupy a unique role with your residents and should work to foster respect
·         Overly emphasize or assume drama for those residents who identify as being from St. Louis or Ferguson area
·         Ask a resident directly for their experience or assume any one student speaks for the entire group
·         Abuse your influence in the community by using this as an opportunity to inform your residents as to your opinion and beliefs on this subject
We encourage any of you who might have questions or concerns about this subject to reach out to others. The best example you can set as a staff member is to acknowledge where you don’t have an answer and ask for help. If you find yourself unsure, that is a clear sign you should reach out for help.

Adapted from notes and discussion with Southeast faculty & Staff, Dr. Debbie Below, Dr. Kendra Skinner, and Tiffany Parker.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Textbook Rental & Buying Help

There are many questions I've seen about how to get your textbooks, rent them, buy them, etc.  To help here is some insight into textbooks and how it works.

For renting textbooks:
Textbook rental in the bottom floor of the library, the entrance is on the side by Dearmont Hall (there is a sign) will scan your ID when you enter and give you a copy of your schedule. You use this to look for your class books, which are arranged by class. Once you select your books you check out with your ID and they are charged to your student account.  The staff at textbook rental monitor class enrollment to make sure there are enough books for each student in a class. You choose the specific textbook from the shelf you want. Some want the books already highlighted, others want the newest looking one, etc. For example if you are in PS103, you will see the books arranged by class (so look for PS on the shelves, they are in alphabetical order) and choose the textbook for PS103. The rental fee is $25.94 per course, not per book for the duration of the semester. All rental books must be returned in satisfactory condition on or before the Monday following finals week. PLEASE note this, turning in your book that you left most of the semester in the back of your pickup truck or that you left on the floor in a basement of your house that flooded, means you bought the book (minus the rental charge). 

You can follow this link to learn more, including a FAQ section that talks about what happens to lost books, can your parents checkout your books, and can you rent books for classes you are not in.

Buying textbooks:
While not common for first year students, you may have to buy a book and you do this at the bookstore in the University Center. The books are also arranged by course and you select your book and then checkout. At the bookstore you can pay for them (cash, credit, debit) or have the charge applied to your student account. For some books at the bookstore you might be able to rent them. This can sound confusing because it is not part of the University's textbook rental program, but the information on the shelf where you pickup the book explains it all. You will see a note that says either "by it" or "rent it." This limited rental program is one advantage of the partnership we have with Follett corporation managing the University's bookstore. Follett looks at books from across all it stores, think thousands, and because of this can allow students to rent some textbooks because of the demand across the nation.  For 90% of first year students you won't be buying your textbooks and certainly won't have to consider this rental program until you get to be a second semester sophomore or a junior.

For more information on buying textbooks you can check out the Bookstore's website at

Advice from my side (instructor) of the classroom:
  1. You should go to your first class before you buy your book to see what the faculty tells you about the text. I always cover this in my classes on the first day the specific text(s) my students need/don't need.
  2. If you have any issue, you should ask either the textbook rental or Bookstore staff. There are extra people on hand at the start of the semester to help with questions.
  3. Highlighted textbooks seem like a great shortcut on what is important, but remember this is what another student, likely taking the class from a different instructor thought was important.