Since August 2003, I have proudly volunteered as the local advisor to the Delta-Beta Chapter of Sigma Pi Fraternity at Monmouth University. The role that I fill is called the Chapter Director and I officially held this position for the better part of the last 14 years. There was a two and a half year period where I switched from being the Chapter Director at Monmouth to Sigma Pi Fraternity’s Province Archon for all of New Jersey. The Province Archon is a volunteer advisor and coordinator for a specific geographic region. I held that position from August 2006 through January 2009 and the reason why I resigned from that position might be the focus of a future article here on the blog, but is irrelevant today. At the time that I resigned as the Province Archon for New Jersey, the Delta-Beta Chapter Director position was just vacated by the alumnus who held the position after me, so I was able to easily move back into the Chapter Director position again. I resigned as Chapter Director last August to focus on my obligations as a member of the national board of directors, but I still work with the young men at Monmouth on a daily basis.
Before I became the Chapter Director at Monmouth, our Faculty Advisor held the position. Our Faculty Advisor is probably the best, most engaged Faculty Advisor in the entire fraternity (in fact, when Sigma Pi started giving out a #1 Faculty Advisor in the nation award, our advisor was the first recipient). However, when I graduated in 2003, the position was ripe for a new person to hold it. I spent two years as the President of my chapter and during that time I was required to research the many events, reports, and issues that our chapter was completely out of the loop on. Shortly after I graduated, the new President of the chapter and I traveled to Sigma Pi’s leadership school and talked to the fraternity’s Executive Director about our situation. During our trip, I was asked to become the new Chapter Director and we implemented that change immediately.
What I learned from my time as an undergraduate leader through my time as a young alumni volunteer and now to someone who has some seasoning as a volunteer is that undergraduates are, naturally, not as connected to the on-going workings of the national organization as one might expect. In other words, national student organizations like fraternities and sororities should not expect every single undergraduate leader at every single undergraduate chapter to take an impassioned interest in the finer points of completing and submitting monthly or quarterly or annual reports. There is going to be an equally less-than-enthusiastic understanding of why it is necessary and beneficial to attend national conferences and regional workshops.
It is one of the many jobs of a local and regional volunteer to connect with their undergraduates in an educational, uplifting, and genuine way. The connection must be educational because we need to make the mundane reporting relevant to their everyday experiences as undergraduate leaders. The connection must be uplifting because today’s young men are berated and denigrated by nearly every corner of society just because they are young men. Who will tell our young men, “Good job!” or “I’m proud of you,” if not for us?
But most importantly, the connection must be genuine because undergraduates can see through lies and falsehoods with laser-like accuracy. And they should cut through the nonsense!
I’ll be writing more about mentoring undergraduates soon, so stay tuned!