Greek Life

Greek Life Strategic Plan

“Elevating our Greek Community”

 

Greek Community History

In 1845, the first men’s fraternity was established at the University of Michigan. Over the past 167 years Greek Life at Michigan has grown to 32 Interfraternity Council fraternities, 16 Panhellenic Association sororities, 9 National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) organizations, and 12 Multicultural (MGC) organizations, representing 18% of the undergraduate population. The Greek Community is a vibrant part of the Michigan campus that, at its best, enhances the undergraduate experience for its members.

 

Letter from the Director

"The long history of Greek Life at the University of Michigan is due to the efforts of many people over the years throughout both successes and challenges.  Assessing where we have been and where we want to be in the future is critical not only to the continuation of the community, but to its elevation as the best possible reflection of the University.  It is our goal to have our members truly live the values upon which our historic organizations were founded.  Michigan’s Greek Community Strategic Plan 2012 is the result of self-evaluation of students and alumni as well as Division of Student Affairs colleagues and the Office of Greek Life staff.  Greek Life must be relevant for today’s students and those of the future.  Although times have changed, it is the commitment to those enduring values that is responsible for the longevity of the fraternal movement.  In order to secure our future we must be vigilant, we must be critical, we must be demanding of ourselves and others, we must be proactive, we must be Michigan."

~ Mary Beth Seiler, Director of Greek Life

 

Vision

A Greek Community that fosters a safe and healthy environment for students to develop interpersonal skills, strong fraternal values, and a community-mindset of respect and service while supporting the mission of the University of Michigan: “to develop leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future”.

Principles

  • Unity
  • Academic success
  • Human dignity and respect for all
  • Responsible behavior
  • Service and philanthropy
  • Accountability
  • Integrity
  • Lifelong commitment
  • Alignment with the mission of the University

 

Office of Greek Life Mission

The Office of Greek Life at the University of Michigan is dedicated to the development of its diverse student body through close collaboration with the University Community, Greek Alumni, Inter/national organizations, and the Ann Arbor Community. We will provide quality academic, personal, social, and service opportunities that will empower our students to serve, lead, and conduct themselves with integrity and in accordance with sound values.

 

Greek Life Strategic Goals

  1. Promote congruence and alignment of actions with our organizations’ values.
  2. Encourage chapters to develop and maintain a healthy status and healthy relationships.
  3. Build and support the development of positive, collaborative relationships among our members, chapters, and councils.
  4. Empower our community to be the “Leaders and Best” through clearly defined standards and community expectations.
  5. Provide resources and support that advance personal wellness.
  6. Prevent behaviors that create situations posing risk to our members and others.
  7. Provide intentional integrative learning opportunities for members of the Greek Community focused on personal development and leadership.
  8. Create and advance partnerships with stakeholders.
  9. Foster development efforts that will enrich our community and help it to thrive.
  10. Enhance staff ability to support the Greek Community and mission of the University.

 

Greek Life Strategic Goals and Objectives

1. Promote congruence and alignment of actions with our organizations’ values

Each year thousands of young women and men seek membership in sororities and fraternities on college campuses throughout the United States and Canada. These memberships are often appealing because of their legendary commitments to friendship, sisterhood, brotherhood, and loyalty1.  Along with membership comes an expectation to uphold the ritual, values, mission, and aims of the respective organization. Many shared values within our community include service, leadership, scholarship, friendship, respect, human dignity, and a lifelong commitment to the organization. When members of the Greek Community are living in congruence with their fraternity’s or sorority’s values, the actions should reflect those of men and women of strong character and integrity. Through education, reflection, and a re-commitment to our respective organization’s values, members of the community will be able to actively demonstrate the impact, value, and positive outcomes of fraternity and sorority membership.

1 Callais, M. A. (2002). Sorority rituals: Rites of passages and their impact on contemporary sorority women. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.

Objectives

  • Provide opportunities for students to reflect on the purpose and values of their organization.
  • Encourage students to embrace the history and principles of our inter/national organizations.
  • Challenge students to draw parallels between the stated organizational values and their daily actions.
  • Demand that members whose actions are not aligned with the organization’s expectations are held accountable to change or face dismissal.

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2. Encourage chapters to develop and maintain a healthy status and healthy relationships

A tradition since 1845, it is important to cultivate a community and chapters that will allow Greek Life to be a vital part of the University of Michigan for the next 150 years.  A “healthy” chapter is one that is well-rounded, vibrant, active, and contributes to the community and the fraternity and sorority experience at Michigan. It should be one that creates lasting memories, fosters a lifelong commitment to loyalty, service, and learning, and is exciting and fun.  Healthy chapters promote ideals of responsibility and citizenship.  Members feel empowered to intervene and create change in the best interest of individuals and the chapter as a whole.  Chapters should promote healthy dynamics in the areas of values-based recruitment/selection, member development, and managing chapter operations.  Recognizing that our chapters have unique goals, we want to ensure that each chapter is supported and has access to the advising and resources it needs to be successful and grow while upholding the organization’s values.

Objectives

  • Support recruitment and intake activities to maximize success.
  • Address issues of attrition and inactivity.
  • Emphasize the value of lifelong membership.
  • Encourage chapters to explore opportunities that have the potential to enhance their chapter experience.
  • Help students reflect on and aspire to the benefits of a healthy chapter.

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3. Build and support the development of positive, collaborative relationships among our members, chapters, and councils.

The opportunity to build a stronger sense of community within Greek Life is an exciting and dynamic area of work. A strong community for fraternity and sorority members allows for chapters and councils to support each other through mutual learning, programmatic support, and cross-organization/council collaborations.  As the community develops, focusing efforts around respect, inclusion, and intercultural maturity will be encouraged and supported in order to develop global citizens.  In times of increased global interdependence, producing inter-culturally competent citizens who can engage in informed, ethical decision making when confronted with problems that involve a diversity of perspectives is becoming an urgent educational priority1.

1 Gurin, P., Dey, E. L., Hurtado, S., & Gurin, G. (2002). Diversity and higher education: Theory and impact on student outcomes.  Harvard Educational Review,  72(3), 330-366.

Objectives     

  • Create a community that instills a sense of belonging within chapters and the larger Greek Community.
  • Establish our community as a safe and welcoming space for all students where actions demonstrate respect for all.
  • Work toward members’ development of intercultural maturity.
  • Increase collaboration and education among the four councils.

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4. Empower our community to be the “Leaders and Best” through clearly defined standards and community expectations.

Students must take ownership for the effectiveness and image of their community and recognize how their actions and methods of governance impact Greek Life and the University of Michigan. The Greek Community at Michigan values student self-governance as a way to promote ownership of our council and chapter operations.  To assure that self-governance is fulfilling its commitment to function at the highest possible level of integrity and accountability, a new method for acknowledging chapters that are doing good work as well as showing improvement will be implemented.  A system of “achievement expectations” will celebrate chapters that excel and help chapters to identify areas needing improvement. The expectations will be set by students to hold each other accountable for what they believe are appropriate expectations for chapter performance. Through benchmarking with peer institutions and identifying strong programs that currently exist, students will be advised and supported by stakeholders as they structure the program to fit the community needs. This will help identify chapters that are exceeding, meeting, and not meeting expectations.

Expectations will include, but are not limited to, administrative obligations (SOAR registration; updated membership, officer, and advisor lists; initiation information; payment of dues, other necessary paperwork); academic achievement; service involvement; management of risk; new member and other educational programming participation; personal health and wellness; and policy compliance.

Objectives

  • Develop and implement “Achievement Expectations” in phases.
  • Work with University officials to develop University “accreditation” standards.
  • Hold our members and chapters accountable to each other, the University, Inter/national organizations, and alumni.
  • Challenge students to “elevate” the Greek Community by exceeding expectations.
  • Develop plans for improvement.
  • Recognize the rights and responsibilities that come with self-governance.
  • Help students reflect on and aspire to the benefits of a healthy chapter.

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5. Provide resources and support that advance personal wellness.

 Wellness of the individual members of the Greek community requires the “responsibility of care” for one another. This responsibility includes the need to focus on individual elements of wellness as well as concentrate efforts on the holistic development of the student. It is not only essential that students are provided with support and resources regarding physical, mental, academic, emotional, and spiritual well-being, but that they recognize the need to address these concerns within their chapter and community.   In giving attention to the various elements of wellness, risk reduction and intervention in certain behaviors can occur. Through the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood, fraternities and sororities have the unique opportunity to influence and have a direct impact on each other.  Through chapter initiatives, as well as individual action, behaviors can be impacted. In an article by Miller, Gilman, and Martens (2008), it states that wellness promotion addresses the reduction of disorders and disease, as well as the enhancement of mental and physical health (Mcloughlin & Kubick, 2004). Contemporary attempts at health and wellness promotion look beyond the physical body to target particular behavioral, psychological, and social factors (Peterson, 2006), and there is increasing evidence that mental and physical health are integrally and reciprocally related, with changes in one often leading to changes in the other (Peterson, Park, & Seligman, 2006).

Miller, D.; Gilman, R.; Martens, M. “Wellness Promotion in the Schools: Enhancing Students’ Mental and Physical Health.” Psychology in the Schools 45 (2008): 5-15

Objectives

  • to have students identify connections between wellness and responsible decision making
  • to empower students to actively intervene when someone’s wellness is in jeopardy
  • to educate students on how alcohol use affects their personal wellness on various levels to provide students with the resources the University offers to individuals in need of assistance with their personal wellness

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6. Prevent behaviors that create situations posing risk to our members and others.

The safety of our members, potential new members, and guests is of extreme importance to our community. Alcohol use, hazing activities, personal safety, respect, civility and facility maintenance are the primary areas on which we need to focus.  Managing risk in various capacities will require active involvement from current students, alumni, university administrators and inter/national headquarters staff. Using their experience and expertise, we can collaboratively develop tools and resources that help minimize and eliminate risk from our community. There are many opportunities for education and programming that focus on best practices and creative strategies to eliminate risky behavior among members and within chapters.  Access to, awareness of, and understanding of policies and standards to manage risk are critical in combating reoccurring issues and violations of policies.

Objectives

  • Develop, implement and consistently enforce policies utilizing student self-governance.
  • Create programs for all members, including new members, that educate on potential risky behaviors and the consequences.
  • Implement best practices for social events.
  • Utilize assessment to monitor the effectiveness of policies, programs, and education.
  • Recognize the rights and responsibilities that come with self-governance.
  • Help students reflect on and aspire to the benefits of a healthy chapter.

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7. Provide intentional integrative learning opportunities for members of the Greek Community focused on personal development and leadership.

Member development is a vital component in moving our community in a progressive direction. When students are provided with opportunities to be challenged, learn, and reflect, the potential for growth, development, and transformation is possible. Developing the “whole” student is important, as many of the skills learned through the fraternity and sorority experience can be utilized and further developed in future environments. This includes physically and emotionally.  Recognizing that member development is an ongoing process, we will aim to provide a range of opportunities and resources for new members, emerging leaders, chapter officers, and other members of the community. It is important to provide outlets for students to develop as contributing members of their chapters, councils, and the greater community.  As a result, we support the mission of the University in developing leaders and citizens who will “challenge the present and enrich the future”.

Objectives

  • Provide opportunities for students to develop leadership skills.
  • Create educational programs that meet students where they are in their development and help them progress to a higher level of awareness and maturity.
  • Assess programs and activities for effectiveness.
  • Create opportunities for students to integrate their Greek experience with the rest of their learning.

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8. Create and advance partnerships with stakeholders.

The Greek Community values the relationships we have established with our non-Greek student stakeholders.  These include University faculty and staff, City of Ann Arbor officials, inter/national Headquarters staff, advisors and alumni boards, alumni chapters, Alumni IFC, Alumnae Panhellenic, parents, and other unaffiliated students.  As our community moves forward, the support and expertise of those who are invested in our students’ success is essential. The resources that our stakeholders provide help us to advance the mission of our community and provide students with the tools they need to be successful.

Through continued educational efforts, program collaboration, leadership development, and training support, we look forward to maintaining established relationships and identifying new opportunities with other stakeholders. These partnerships provide opportunities for our students to incorporate innovative practices and resources, as a means to elevate the community.

Objectives

  • Communicate with stakeholders about accomplishments, policies, and areas of concerns.
  • Educate advisors to assist them in working with our students.
  • Collaborate on programs and practices to empower and educate our students.
  • Connect Greek students with the various stakeholders mentioned above.

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9. Foster Development efforts that will enrich our community and help it to thrive.

Investing in the success of our community is a task that requires the support and contributions of very distinct stakeholders. Those who have come through the community and support the idea of Greek Life being their “Michigan Tradition” should have the opportunity to support this legacy through financial contributions. We want to encourage alumni to come back to the community and share their experience with our current members. In order to do this, we will need to build on our current membership database to follow our alumni as they progress in their life endeavors throughout the country and world. This is an untapped area of work that will help support and advance our mission.

Objectives

  • Build relationships with alumni, parents and other partners.
  • Increase donor base.
  • Increase donation opportunities.
  • Create networking opportunities to connect students and alumni.
  • Foster a spirit of philanthropy and giving back to the University and Greek Community.

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10. Enhance staff ability to support the Greek Community and mission of the University.

In order to fulfill the mission of the Office of Greek Life, it is important that our unit (with over 4,800 students in 70 organizations) be acknowledged as a vital part of the University of Michigan.  In order to meet the needs of students; alumni; inter/national organizations; parents; City officials; University administrators; faculty and staff, it is essential that the necessary financial and personnel resources exist.  Currently, the members of the Greek Community fund over 70% of the salary portion of the Greek Life budget with Panhellenic members carrying the largest burden per member.   In addition, three full-time staff members cannot adequately meet the needs of such a large community.

Objectives

  • Secure adequate financial resources to support the community.
  • Equitably distribute student financial contributions.
  • Establish an organizational structure with adequate personnel resources.
  • Provide professional development opportunities for staff.

 

In order to complete these goals and objectives, we have a list of strategic initiatives designed to focus our efforts to allow for greater continuity as students and staff change.