• Becoming a Successful Leader in a Chaotic World

    by Sarah Faust

    Blog author Sarah Faust sits with seven of her sorority sisters on the steps of an academic building. Due to quarantine rules, they are wearing facemasks.

    The title of this blog might have been misleading. After a few months of reflection, I have struggled with whether or not I truly was a successful leader. However, the thing we need in an abundance, especially during this time, is grace. For the sake of sharing what I learned in 2020, I will grant myself some grace and label my term as successful, even if the only success was my refusal to give up.

    In November of 2019, I was elected as the Chapter President of my sorority. It is an organization made up of around 250 women whom I respect deeply and was excited to serve. With the most trustworthy, capable people by my side, we took over the operations of the chapter with no idea what was soon to come. The first couple months were trying because of a snowstorm cancelling our flights to a leadership convention and contentious senior members who always seemed to disagree with us. By late March, though, those challenging days seemed like a dream.

    The next eight months were a whirlwind of deep uncertainty. Like most other schools across the country, our university shut down in-person classes. Our sorority house closed for the semester. Before I knew it, I was back in St. Louis living in my parents’ house and trying to run a sorority.

    I doubt there will ever be a complete, step-by-step list that will encompass everything it takes to be a successful leader, but it would be a shame if I missed the opportunity to share what I found to be helpful. Here is my personal guide to successful leadership during the most trying times. After all, hindsight is 2020.

    Confidence is key

    If you are not confident that you will be able to carry yourself and those you lead through a difficult time, no one else will believe that you will be able to either. When a global pandemic took the world and turned it upside down, I was a 19-year-old sophomore in college who was barely prepared to lead a large group of young women, much less do so virtually and without consistent information regarding the future. If you ask anyone who knows me, they will tell you that confidence is never something I seem to lack, so it was terrifying when I was faced with something that made me question my own abilities. To be fair, though, no one was prepared to handle all of the fallout that a pandemic can cause, so why couldn’t I be the one to do so?

    You cannot allow that which you cannot control to take control of you

    It was not my fault that my members’ worlds seemed to be falling apart, but it was my responsibility to do what I could to keep one area of their lives safe. Almost daily, I was approached with things that were not part of my training. Rather than throwing a fit because of how unfair it was, I had to take things as they came. Organization and planning are not my strong suits, but I can think on my toes, and that proved to be valuable.

    Self-care is not selfish

    It was easy to take the weight of everything and put it on my own shoulders. That was a good way to drive myself crazy. I was the best leader I could be when I started respecting myself. Taking the time to do what is important for your own mental health indirectly benefits those you lead.

    As the president of a sorority, I did not face anywhere near the worst of what this pandemic has had to offer. However, I felt the challenges of the unknown every single day. It was not the term I hoped for, but it taught me more than I ever imagined. Even if it wasn’t what I would deem “successful,” I know that one day I will use what I learned to be undeniably so.

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  • Lessons from a Student Leader during a Global Pandemic and Beyond

    by Margaret Poltorak

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    Being the president of my sorority has taught me about ways to thrive as a leader. I’ve learned a lot about myself in regard to my leadership strengths and weaknesses. Being a student leader on campus is not easy, especially when faced with unexpected events such as COVID-19. But here are the lessons I have learned since gaining my position. 

    Expect the unexpected

    This has been especially relevant for all student leaders during COVID-19. No matter how much planning and thought goes into every decision, there are still going to be events you cannot control. Whether it’s something as large as a global pandemic or as small as a member asking a question you weren’t expecting, know the only thing you can do is your very best. With every decision I make, I say “I’m making the best decision with the information I was given.” Especially in times of uncertainty, knowing your limits is extremely important as a student leader.

    Have people you can confide in

    Having people in your corner to seek advice from is key to being a successful student leader. My own support network includes: my executive board to support me with confidential information; my mother to vent to when being a leader takes its toll; and a friend not in the sorority that I can gain an outside perspective from. These people became the foundation that supports me and my greatest cheerleaders. When I first got this position, I tried to do a lot of the work on my own. Once I accepted that it’s okay to ask for help, I became a better leader.  

    It’s just a position

    Remember you are a student and a human being before you are a leader in your organization. Your mental health and academics should still take priority, even when that seems difficult. This is something I reminded myself often. No act, task, event, speech, or any other responsibility is more important than your own well-being. Remember to take a step back every once in a while and keep your position and your experience in perspective. Remember that it’s okay to say “no” and turn something down. You’re still a student and a human.

    Remember why you took the position

    In every student leadership position, there are the great moments – the times when you begin to think you are leaving a legacy. However, there are also tough times. I have had several moments in which I question why I accepted this position. Whenever I feel that way, I remember why I ran for presidency in the first place. During elections, I wrote a letter to myself about what this position means, and I continue to look back upon it during tough times. Doing this has allowed me to approach almost every week with the passion I had in the beginning of my term. When faced with challenges, remind yourself of why you took the position. 

    Being a leader can push you to grow as a student and a person. Many students can learn a lot through their experiences of being a leader, but it is important to remember the things above in order to have balance between your position and other obligations.

     

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  • Connecting to a commuter campus through Greek life

    by Ron Frank

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    Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis is a joint campus of the two main campuses previously stated. Better known as IUPUI, this unique campus is located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. When I first came to IUPUI, I did not know what my campus had to offer me but I discovered a connection through a Greek organization. Being a commuter school, IUPUI has a different approach to Greek life than many campuses. I have found it to be very rewarding.

    At IUPUI there is no on-campus housing for fraternity and sorority life. This can make recruitment more difficult. But what I first saw as something that could hurt us in the long run turned out to benefit our student organization more than I ever expected. Without the close knit connection of those schools with campus housing, we have to go out of our comfort zone and put ourselves out there in order to survive. This has pushed us to work harder and learn to overcome difficulties.

    It also provides us with a better group of guys to pick from. Because of the geographical difficulties, any student that is interested in what Greek life has to offer has to make a stronger commitment than they may have had to at another campus. This commitment is what has turned an on-campus organization into a true brotherhood producing friends that will last a lifetime. 

    When it comes to starting college, it is nothing but a bunch of unknowns. When I was new to campus, it was up to me to get out there and see what I could do for my campus. While it is both as exciting and scary as it looks on the surface, this is the time of your life to figure out what you want out of life. No one else can decide that; it is up to you to discover it for yourself. If you develop that mindset, any organization that you put yourself into will pay you back tenfold over whatever you expected. No matter what type of campus you attend, I encourage you to check out the opportunities of Greek life. You might just discover more opportunities than you could ever imagine. 

     

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  • The Value of Greek Life

    by Logan Perlaky

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    As an incoming freshman at the University of Toledo, I was immature and lacked motivation in finding my place at my college and in this world. During my first semester I made friends and maintained a 4.0 GPA, yet didn’t really understand why I was there. I lacked a purpose for being in college. With no direction and no satisfaction with my performance, I decided I needed to make a change. 

    Fearing the Unknown

    Before entering college, I applied for a scholarship known as the Balanced Man Scholarship given away by Sigma Phi Epsilon at my university. They had a banquet to give scholarships to young men like me and even invited my parents! I met amazing men that I wanted so badly to learn from. Yet, after all of this, I was still afraid to join. I was afraid to give myself to a fraternity. I was too afraid of the stereotypes that came with a fraternity so I refused to participate in recruitment. At the end of my first semester I found myself academically successful, but with no meaningful relationships or memories. I was not about to let my time at my university go to waste, so I took a huge risk. 

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