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. http://www.semo.edu/textbookrental/rent/index.html

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 http://www.bkstr.com/southeastmissouriststore/home/

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.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Goodbye to #SEORL Residence Life

This week marks my departure from the Office of Residence Life at Southeast. While I will still get to work with Residence Life as the AVP for Southeast, it is of course not the same. I’ve enjoyed working with some great people in Residence Life and any success in my career is a product of the time so many professionals have given to me. I hesitate to name people, however, there are some who have been on the Residence Life journey with me for many years in the central office of Residence Life that I must thank for the time we worked together: Jim Settle, Gwen Duncan, Kendra Skinner, Allan Mauk, Bruce Hanebrink, Kim Fees, and Vicki Schrieber to name just a few. Of course there are many Hall Directors that I have had the great opportunity to work with and the energy these professionals bring to Residence Life is one of the things I enjoyed most about the work in Residence Life. Every year there seems to be some new funny story that only Res Lifers understand, like can my son get an extra key so we can pay a house keeper to come to his room when he is at class to clean it? Or can you not assign me to a room with my best friend, even though we requested one another? I don’t want to tell him/her that I don’t want to live with them. The diversity of challenges that working in residence life provides is difficult to match in higher education. Few other offices get to touch so many areas of campus life and for this I am thankful for the past 14 years of time in the Office of Residence Life at Southeast.

I am very confident in the new Director and look forward to seeing her vision and direction of the office. We are fortunate as a University to have had a talented Associate Director ready to step into the Director position and after only a month it is clear to see the University’s decision to select Kendra was the correct one.

I promise to try and avoid meddling in Residence Life too often. Of course on occasion I still plan to come back to my old professional home and to keep things interesting I won’t call before making the trek from the south side of campus just to see how things are going.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Camp Redhawk

Last day of Camp

What a great couple days the first two groups of Camp Redhawk had. The first students have left campus not that long ago and we are getting ready for the next group. Some important lessons were learned and we look forward to making some very minor tweaks to the program, but the most important lesson we learned is, how great some of the students arriving on campus in August are going to be. A special thanks to the Camp Redhawk Leadership Team of Jen, Katie, Kari, and Mark.

To the Camp Redhawk team I want you to know I am proud of your work over those days and while I could say more about how well things have gone, but I think I will defer to one of our Camp Redhawk alumni Peyton Mogley who posted on FB, “I just had one of the best camp experiences of my life and I am absolutely ecstatic to begin my first semester of college in the fall at SEMO! All of the apprehension is gone and is completely replaced with excitement! I'm ready to take on a new campus, a new school, a new start and a new way of life with an even more confident attitude! I've learned so much about myself and others over the past few days! Camp Redhawk is where it's at! To all of you attending future sessions- have a blast and don't hesitate to lend a hand and extend yourself. whoooot!”

I also cannot let pass that the results of the Camp Redhwak satisfaction surveys are back and 97% of the responses gave their experience either a 4 or 5, out of 5. With 5 being “very satisfied” with their Camp Redhawk Experience. Additionally, 93% of student reported they were “more confident” in their decision to attend Southeast after being part of the program. 

 If you have not signed up for Camp Redhawk there are still some spaces in the two July sessions. If you are interested please let us know and become part of a new Southeast tradition. Also, you just might get to see some things and do some stuff that other students spend their entire academic career at Southeast and never get to experience.Check out #campredhawk on twitter to see what the other new Redhawks had to say! 

Inside Academic Dome. Everyone gets a chance to leave their mark!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Recyclemania Residence Hall Results

With the end of the semester there is one more thing to celebrate. Near the end of each spring semester the Office of Residence Life and our residence hall students participate in a competition of sorts, called Recyclemania, to see if we can increase the recycling efforts of our residence hall students.   

This year Recyclemania lasted from the end of January though the end of April. A special thanks to the RAs for their efforts to consistently encourage our residents to recycle. Through these efforts the residence hall students diverted 10,259 lbs, or close to 5 tons that would have otherwise been disposed of by going to a landfill.  Here is the breakdown, by building, of the total weight of recycling collected from the floors and the weight recycled per student.

T. lbs. Collected from Student Floors
lbs. per student recycled
Henderson Hall
Towers South
Towers East
Towers West
Towers North

2 Notes:

  • The “T. lbs. Collected from Student Floors” was divided by your building occupancy to give the weight recycled per student. 
  • Yes, the “T. lbs. Collected from Student Floors” does not equal 10,259 lbs. The 10,259 lbs. includes the Towers Complex, Dearmont Complex, LaFerla Main Lobby, etc, areas that are not tied to a specific community.