actual sorority move

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Sorority membership placed a stamp on my collegiate experience that no other opportunity could have replaced. I grew as a woman and leader through my friendships and dedicated work for the continued success of the Gamma Eta chapter of Phi Mu Fraternity at Roanoke College. I’ll even be real with you and admit that not all of my experiences with Phi Mu were positive. As a “Phi” or pledge of Phi Mu, I experienced psychological hazing that caused me to relive the emotional distress I experienced as a freshman at an institution from which I had transferred the previous semester. I seriously questioned whether or not to continue joining the organization–maybe sorority life just wasn’t for me?? However, Phi Mu’s love had already been emblazoned on my heart and, for better or worse, I pushed on.

Little did I know, my experience with hazing would be a pivotal moment in my personal story; a “defining moment” in my life. As new chapter leadership worked to eliminate these negative “traditions” from our chapter, I became a strong voice against hazing in our chapter. I continued to reflect upon those experiences and became an advocate for hazing prevention initiatives with my platform in the Miss Virginia/Miss America Organizations. I attended the Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention and became interested in Student Affairs professions, which lead me to my current role as a graduate student studying Higher Education Administration. I have been able to contribute my knowledge of hazing prevention as the Graduate Assistant in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. I am passionate about this issue and encouraged by my story, because it’s just one small example of how all our experiences, negative or positive, shape who we become and are opportunities for growth.

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Last spring, with graduation looming only a few short weeks away, I reflected upon my times as a Phi Mu collegian in the post phi mu is love. My friendships with Phi Mu sisters have continued to grow and flourish despite the distance. I am so thankful for my sisters who have been loyal and true through thick and thin over the months of post-college life! As a member of the professional staff for Fraternity and Sorority Life at UVA, I have gained a new perspective on Greek Life. This new retrospective lens on my fraternity experience has allowed me to continue to reflect upon what it means to be a member of Phi Mu Fraternity.

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A hot-button topic in Greek Life is values-based fraternity living. “What?” you ask, “Fraternities and values?” I know, I know. The media’s portrayal of fraternities and sororities does not tend to place our organizations in a positive light.

“We raise so much money for charity!

We do community service!

We’re leaders and scholars!”

…these are our retorts to criticisms we face as members of a Greek community nationwide. But are we really living up to the high standards we pledge to uphold when we ‘live it up’ in Frat house basements every weekend? Are we promoting scholarship when we have a party on a Wednesday night? Do we invite true sisterhood into our organization when we base membership choices over superficial elements like looks and fashion?

I don’t think so!!!

We are giving society the ammunition they need to battle against us! So, what can we do?

Revisiting the Phi Mu creed has been a valuable way for me to spend some time lately. Reflecting upon what it actually means to be a sister of Phi Mu has allowed my understanding of my Fraternity to grow. I look forward to lifelong membership in this organization. Love, honor, and truth really are wonderful values to live life by, and our founders set up a fantastic standard for living in our creed.

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Reflecting upon values and gaining a greater understanding of the relevance of fraternity in our lives today leads me to share a new force in the Greek community, Actual Sorority Move. While there are many organizations that exist to promote the positive side of Fraternity and Sorority, this new trend resonates with me particularly well. It aims to directly combat websites like Total Frat Move, or TFM, that perpetuate negative stereotypes of Greek Life. The following video features Actual Sorority Move (ASM) creator, Jessie Garber, as she explains why she created Actual Sorority Move and what the movement is all about:

Follow ASM on Twitter and Facebook.

I think Jessie’s creation is FANTASTIC. It’s about time sorority women start having thoughtful reflection and meaningful conversations about why we joined a Panhellenic organization. It’s time we start standing up to the stereotypes society has for us, stop perpetuating them, and start proving we are so much more than that! I will be the first to admit that I was not/am not a model sorority woman at all times. I can and do commit to bettering myself every day. Our chapter does a lot of great things, but I am confident that my sisters–collegians, alumnae, all of us–can be so much more!

I challenge us all, Greek or not, to think about what we say we value and evaluate how that aligns with our actual words and actions. Even small efforts towards living a life that is congruent with our beliefs are steps in the right direction.

I hope this gave you a little food for thought, and please leave comments–I’d love to read your reactions!

xo, CEF

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Philippians 4:8

the culture of hazing

Recently, the University of Alabama suspended “pledgeship” (NOT A REAL WORD) due to a report of hazing. This article from the campus newspaper, The Crimson White details an anonymous pledge’s experiences in the Greek system. The article shed light onto some of the activities that take place at campuses all across America–though in defense of Greek life I must note that these practices are NOT condoned by fraternities’ and sororities’ national leadership, universities, and national council representation. AND there ARE chapters out there that do make good decisions, don’t engage in hazing practices, and live out their fraternity’s values. YES, fraternities and sororities are VALUES-BASED organizations–for example, Phi Mu was founded on the values of love, honor, & truth.

Stepping back from my rant on the positives of Greek life, I will admit that the part of the article I found the most shocking/saddening (none of the hazing practices surprised me, I’ve heard them all!) was the comments. The fact that students are defending hazing, stating that the student should have expected the behavior/known what he was “getting himself into,” and acting like the behavior really isn’t that problematic is in itself a huge problem! No student (or person, for that matter) should have to be subjected to physical, sexual, or psychological ABUSE to gain acceptance into a group. Not only does it NOT contribute to student development, but it’s just WRONG, people!

I understand that there are people out there who feel that there are some benefits to hazing, or feel that because they were hazed they bonded with their pledge brothers/sisters. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue!

Are you a fan or a fanatic? (via Serve In The Light of Truth)

If you follow me on Twitter (@charfraser) you may be wondering what some of my recent Tweets have been about. I have been taking part in the #40Answers campaign, sponsored by Sigma Nu Fraternity and HazingPrevention.org. The campaign is a 40 day program leading up to National Hazing Prevention Week in September in which a different excuse for hazing is posted each day. Followers are then supposed to counteract that excuse. The idea is that the conversation will allow hazing prevention advocates to combat hazing excuses in real-world senarios. The “#40Answers” tag is included in each post–for those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, it basically creates a link on your post that connects it to a group with all other posts including that same tag. This way, everyone can see each others posts. We’re currently on day 10 and I’ve been following each day, finding the various excuses typical, as I’ve heard them many times in my own experiences. The responses are thoughtful and enlightening. Get on Twitter and follow along!

The following post by Sigma Nu (who shares Phi Mu’s values of Love, Honor, & Truth) explains the campaign in more detail…

Are you a fan or a fanatic? It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. -Aristotle We all have strong convictions about something. It could be a political belief ("taxes hurt small businesses"), or a historical narrative ("FDR ended the Great Depression") or even the eminence of a favorite sports team ("Chicago Cubs are the best baseball team ever"). Maybe it's something as simple as a favorite TV show ("Hands down, Entourage i … Read More

via Serve In The Light of Truth

the blog is back in action

As some of you know, I am no longer able to access my old blog site, http://makemeamiss.wordpress.com, due to a slight mix-up in passwords and getting a new email account. So I’ve revived the blogging glory by creating a new and improved site with a fresh look, snazzy name, and cool features (check out the twitter feed on the right)! On that theme, I must immediately credit the amazing Shannon O. for the creation of the catchy blog title. Shannon is a Miss VA sister AND a Phi Mu sister (double whammy). Her witty and creative personality coined the phrase “hazing hurts…so do heels” just for moi! Follow her funny blog here: www.shannonsnyc.blogspot.com.

For those of you who are not former readers of Make Me a Miss, check it out, the posts are still in tact. However, I’m sure you’ll realize my most current post is from mid-April–Yikes! So, so much has happened since then. I’ll try to get you up to speed…

  • Apple Blossom Festival: awesome, felt like a celeb, beyond content surrounded by a land of pink & green.

    Ready for the Firefighter's Parade during the Festival

  • Exams/End of school year: studied a lot=not fun, a lot of my best friends graduated=super sad. But I did make the Dean’s List, so that’s a plus!
  • May Term in Scotland: my first trip to Europe! It was exciting to get the chance to study art and architecture during this course and spend the time with my boyfriend James, our friend Rosa, and my Phi Mu sister KG.

KG & me in front of a cool fountain.

 

James, Rosa, & me walking somewhere. I really just included this for the pretty background and this was somehow taken in a rare, sunny moment.
  • Miss VA Prep crunch time: one word…WHIRLWIND. Probably the most stressful month of my life thus far.
  • Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention: Informative and inspirational. This experience truly moved me to take steps forward to make a difference in my campus community and beyond (Superhero? Possibly.) Lehigh U has a beautiful campus and the drive to Bethlehem, PA was the longest solo drive I’ve ever made–go me! I also felt the calling to work in Higher Education/Student Affairs and have been taking steps ever since to get ready to apply to grad school…GRE date is Oct 8!
  • Miss Virginia!: A fun, action-packed, exhausting, exhilarating week! I got to be a part of the Top 11 as the People’s Choice winner which means I was on TV, hooray! I also made friends with some crazy, awesome, awkward, nice girls, including my roomie Madeleine, who I am obsessed with. We stayed up way too late pillowtalking everynight and we text often to this day. Shoutouts to the Luck family, the Kelly family, and Anna for being part of this experience and providing amazing support. My family & James went above and beyond the call of duty and I probably would have collapsed without their unending support (the buttons with my picture on them and “CHAR IS A STAR” signs didn’t hurt, either). It was such a pleasure to represent the land of pink & green and be at Miss VA as MISS APPLE BLOSSOM.

    Arrival to Miss VA week at the Hotel Roanoke.

    With my roomie, Madeleine, Miss Dominion. Photo by Anne Royster.
    With my parents at the Miss Virginia Reception. Photo by Claire Buffie.
    The Fraser & Kelly crews at Friday night visitation. Photo by Claire Buffie.
    With Team Apple Blossom at the Afterglow after the final night of competition.
  • Miss VA Recovery: This has mainly consisted of eating.
  • Phi Mu Officer Retreat: Planning the fall semester, making beaded jewelry, dinner at Blue 5, & catching up with sisters…Vice President is a great job.
  • Luck Fam beach vacay + Fraser Fam beach vacay=extra long beach vacay! Let’s just say, I’m pretty tan right now

…So that’s where we stand! When I get home from the beach, I have a few more days working at The Pink Palm, I’ll finish organizing the supercute decor for my new room in a house this year, continue studying for the GRE, and then it’s back to Sunny Salem to help lead orientation and take the final lap.

Stay tuned for local pageant competition news and some exciting announcements about the Roanoke College’s first annual participation in National Hazing Prevention Week.

xx cef