Friday, March 21, 2014

Sisters Are There For You In Unexpected Times

On that May day in 2013, I was invincible, like so many 20 something’s on their graduation day. 

That sunny day at the College of Charleston, life was perfect.  I was surrounded by my family and Delta Gamma sisters at the pre-graduation brunch beaming at how blessed I was and almost in awe of the moment I was able to experience.  My sisters and I founded our chapter at the college, and here they were standing with me for our graduation photographs.  My special guest was my 25-year-old sister Jessica.  Jess suffered from severe Spinabifida and was paralyzed from the waist down −up to that point she had undergone 33 surgeries.   Jess never liked crowds.  She was ignored in large groups and her wheelchair makes it difficult for her to maneuver.  Each one of my DG sisters made sure to compliment Jessica on her outfit and watched as I did her makeup in the living room.  I can still hear the clinking of the champagne bottles and the heels crossing the floor. I see the smiling faces of my family and friends.  Yet this was not the day that I will remember every minute passing, every prayer or even every tear.  

It was 10:04 a.m. two weeks later when I received the call.  After a night home from routine surgery Jess wasn’t breathing.   I was an hour from my home in Columbia, SC.  I jumped in my Jeep racing against time.  I was quickly pulled over on the interstate.  I was handed a $475 ticket and 6 points on my license.  At 10:41 a.m. I received the call that almost made me let go of the wheel.  My prayers would not be answered−my sister had already been called to be an angel.  Instead of letting go I called my DG sister Sarah Thomas and she helped get me through the remaining 30 minutes home to the ambulances and coroner in my driveway.   My hands shake even now remembering all the arrangements I had to handle that week since my parents were in a state of shock.  The love and encouragement I received from numerous women in my chapter throughout the process of arranging my sisters’ funeral service kept me going.  

A week later I was emotionally drained and numb I lacked the strength to respond to the wave of support.  I arrived at the church in rural Georgia, seven hours away from Charleston, SC, only expecting to see my immediate family and the members of our church to have my sister’s service.  As I was about to enter the doors I heard my name called from the parking lot.  Out stepped my sisters Sarah Thomas, Hallye Meeks and Erica Kramer.  They had driven all day so I wouldn’t be alone.  As I ran towards them it seemed as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders for at that moment I knew I could start my own grieving.  

The morning I took the pledge to uphold the high ideals of friendship set forth by Delta Gamma I would not have guessed how much those friends would mean.  These words I have written pale in comparison to the love I have for my Delta Gamma sisters.  These women have been the light in my darkness and anchored my faith so that I may find my way again.  

Brittany Pennington, Eta Sigma-College of Charleston was the Director of Eta Sigma's first Anchor Splash which raised more than $10,000 for Service for Sight, she also served as Director of Rituals.  She is currently in the process of applying to Physician's Assistant School while working at the Medical University of South Carolina.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How much do you really know when it comes to your teen virtually?

It is tough to be a teenager in this decade of virtual technology.   You can video tape yourself and send a snap shot to your friends in seconds.  You can post your daily photos, quotes, updated status and twitter anytime of the day so everyone knows where you are and how you are feeling.  Generations ago, we had to pick up the phone to communicate with a friend or family member.  Today, just about everything kids do is through social media, cell phones, social network websites and i-gadgets.  

With this enhanced technology, there is a price to pay.  What happened to privacy?  Teenagers will sit in a room and text each other instead of speaking to one another.  Girls and boys are posing for their friends to have photos taken and posted for the public to view.   When one thinks of the term “bully” they may relate it to the playground bully in school who would pick on the weak.  Today when we say “bully” we associate this behavior with technology.     
According to the National Crime Prevention Council (2010),  Cyberbullying is similar to other types of bullying, except it takes place online and through text messages sent to cell phones. Cyberbullies can be classmates, online acquaintances, and even anonymous users, but most often they do know their victims. 

Examples of Cyberbullying include:
Sending someone mean or threatening emails, instant messages, or text messages.
Excluding someone from an instant message buddy list or blocking their email for no reason
Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others.
Breaking into someone’s email or instant message account to send cruel or untrue messages which posing as that person
Creating websites to make fun of another person such as a classmate or teacher
Using websites to rate peers as prettiest, ugliest, etc.

Males more commonly bully by sending messages of a sexual nature or by threatening to fight or hurt someone.  Females more often bully by spreading rumors and by sending messages that make fun of someone or exclude others.  They also use secrets as a method of bullying (NCPC, 2010).

There have been numerous documented suicide cases among teens due to cyber bullying.  Parents are being held accountable for their bully’s actions.  Should a parent know what their teen is doing on the phone they pay for monthly? The facebook account they created for their child?  The ipad/computer they have free range of through their internet account?  This has been the controversial topic in recent years.  

Education is key!  This also includes parents (not just the youth who are communicating daily with technology).  Parents want to trust their children with their activity online and on the cell phone.    

What can you do as a parent?  Many steps can be taken to monitor your child’s activity online:

Set parental controls on the internet (only allowing specific websites to be utilized and setting passwords)
Check the internet history – what websites is  your child visiting?
Have the computer centrally located in the home (family room, kitchen, etc.).
Talk to your child about the internet dangers
If you suspect your child is being secretive with the internet, you can install spyware applications on their computers
Monitor texting use on cell phones and social network websites (facebook, myspace, etc.).
Establish “rules” for the internet use and cell phone use

A child should not know more than a parent when it comes to cyber space!

Susan Wind, Epsilon Theta-Tampa, is a college professor who has taught, designed, and implemented criminal justice courses for the past 12 years.  She has held positions with the Department of Juvenile Justice, Probation and Parole and numerous police departments (Analysts, Grant Writer, Research Planner Positions). Her area of expertise includes: survey design and instrumentation, research methodology, data collection, grant writing and administration, program design and implementation, statistics and profiling.  Susan is also proficient in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and database administration.      

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Anchor Academy: A Pre-Convention Training Experience

How do I recruit more advisers? What are the policies that pertain to me? Which programs will generate interest from young alumnae? How can I better do my Delta Gamma job? You asked, and we listened: we are proud to introduce Anchor Academy, a pre-Convention training experience.

Anchor Academy will consist of four unique training tracks, including training tracks for:
Alumnae Presidents-including topics such as creative alumnae programming, recruiting new members, DG technology, and grooming new officers. Cost of attendance is $50.
Collegiate Presidents-including topics such as running efficient CMT/JCMT meetings, overcoming campus culture, the “big picture” of Delta Gamma, and teambuilding. Cost of attendance is $50.
House Corporation Officers-including topics such as budgeting/five year plans, a panel of both housed and unhoused groups, understanding housing policies, and trends in the insurance industry. Cost of attendance is $150.
Advisers/ATCs-including topics such as training and recruiting your advisory team, advisers role in chapter finances, coaching your chapter, and understanding Fraternity policies. Cost of attendance is $150.

Are you interested yet? This will truly be a one-of-a-kind experience to learn more about your position with your sisters from all over North America. To attend Anchor Academy, make sure to register to attend when you complete Convention registration. The cost of Anchor Academy even includes your Wednesday night stay at the Biltmore and your breakfast, lunch, and training materials on Thursday!

Here are a few FAQs to help you out:
Am I required to attend? Collegiate presidents are required to attend. Alumnae presidents, house corporation officers, and ATCs are strongly encouraged to attend, but are not required.
How do I register for Anchor Academy? Registration for Anchor Academy will be an option included in your Convention registration materials. 
What if I’ve already registered for Convention, but didn’t register for Anchor Academy and now I want to register? Contact and they’ll give you instructions for next steps.
When does registration for Anchor Academy close? April 30th, but spots are limited so register ASAP!
What does my registration fee cover? Your fee will cover Wednesday night’s hotel room stay (double occupancy with another Anchor Academy attendee), Thursday’s breakfast & lunch, and all of your training materials during Anchor Academy. 
What would the Anchor Academy schedule look like? Anchor Academy will be Thursday, June 26th from 8:00am-4:30pm. The schedule will vary depending on which training track you attend, but breakfast, lunch, and comfort breaks are incorporated into the schedule.
When would I need to arrive? Please plan on arriving Wednesday, June 25th. Your hotel room (as double occupancy) for the 25th is included in the cost of your Anchor Academy registration. 
Who will be my roommate for the Wednesday night before Anchor Academy? You will be paired with a like-delegate (collegiate with collegiate, alumnae with alumnae, etc.) during Anchor Academy who will remain your roommate throughout the rest of Convention. If you are planning on sharing a room with somebody who is not attending Anchor Academy and she is arriving on Thursday, you may pay $75 extra to have a single room on Wednesday night before Anchor Academy. In that case, your roommate for Convention will move into the room when she arrives on Thursday for Convention. 

Still have questions? Feel free to reach out to and look for more information in the Spring issue of the ANCHORA. Don’t let this opportunity to learn and network pass you by!

Monday, March 3, 2014

“……….because I belong.”

I meet quite a lot of sorority women and fraternity men. On average, I meet more than 500 men and women every year who have chosen to take fairly serious vows and provide a public expression of their commitments. They are first generation college students, 50-year members, legacies, “never joiners,” “Type A’s,” outside-the-box rebels, new leaders, old souls, new members, alumnae legends, “I used to be a DGs,” “been to 40 Conventions…”, etc. I’m struck by one essential truth when I meet these fine women and men. We are as diverse as stars in the sky. We find meaning in different things. But we all wear a badge, don’t we? At one time, we all have worn a badge. We belong to a “tribe” of sorts, a clan of people who have a shared experience. Our tribe is massive. We don’t have much to set us apart publicly, so our icons, our totems and symbols? They mean the world.

Take your chapter. Quintuple it. Add your alma mater. Quadruple that. Then add more than 225 years, and millions of people. That’s who fraternity women and men are. We are diverse and we cannot be easily defined, so we look to our rituals, our relationships, and those connective outward expressions like letters and badges to bond us together. I can spot at 60 paces a new member pin or a fraternity badge. There is nothing so heartwarming as a smartly dressed member with a badge placed appropriately on their heart. That lady or gentleman gets bonus points with me if they are not passively pressured or actively mandated to wear that badge with the rest of their new member class or peer group. If that person demonstrates authentic personal choice to wear that symbol, they are already elevated in my mind. If you are over 22 and still proudly wearing your badge? We’re probably going to be best friends. Something about that particular type of member almost always shows me, “They get it.” On some level, in some way, they are proud of what they are participating in. They still believe in fraternity. 

Even in the midst of hopeful belief and commitment, fraternities struggle. Part of our struggle is rooted in the fact that organizations have been trying, so hard, for so long, to articulate and demonstrate the MEANING in our membership. People have visuals of us that aren’t that pretty. We don’t have control over our symbols anymore. Are you defined by a paddle? A red solo cup? Your badge can’t trump a bad incident, but your behavior, supported by that badge, absolutely can. Icons like a badge can’t explain why we still haze and disregard human dignity. Our badges can’t cover up incidents that make us look insensitive, elitist, dangerous, callous or foolish. We are called to present public and significant meaning to our membership in the midst of a bit of a cultural mess. I don’t need to identify what kind of horrendous issues we’re dealing with as members of a fraternity. You know what they are.

So here we are. Millions of people. Looking for meaning. In the midst of a bit of a mess. In the midst of life’s messes, you have to be able to find people who believe what you believe. Who value what you value. It is no accident that we wear glittering reminders of who we champion and what we believe. Our badges create a clear beacon to safety in numbers and some understanding of our shared core values.

I did not receive my badge when I was initiated. Only a few new initiates in my chapter did. My chapter was focused on the friendships, and we weren’t always so task oriented, and we didn’t get our order in. You know how things sometimes happen in a chapter. The moment was missed. The first time I put my badge on, honestly, was at Delta Gamma’s Executive Offices. I didn’t say anything to anyone about it. It was a meaningful moment and I was starting my consultant experience (so I really needed a badge), but it was my moment, and I was afraid to share what it meant to me. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh! I’ve never worn our badge before!” It sounds so ridiculous now to keep that moment to myself! Those women would have embraced the moment with me. I know now that those dear sisters would have understood.
Our beautiful anchor badge sometimes seems to weigh a thousand pounds. It’s not something I ever really can take off or put away. Even when I’m not wearing it, I’m wearing it. It speaks volumes, but sits silently on my left side. Wearing our badge carries the weight of our Founders dreams, our members hopes, living and dead. It carries the commitment of women who need for our organization to be meaningful, who earnestly work to make us better. Wearing the Delta Gamma badge means that I’m connected to women who are my heroes. My mentors. I’m reminded that our experience is reliant upon outward demonstrations of belief. I’m reminded that my badge connects me to women I will never meet. My badge makes me an advocate. It ties me to a promise. It makes me a teacher. It makes me a leader. I can be anything because of that badge. And so can you. Our Delta Gamma anchor badge is magical if you let it be.
The only piece of jewelry that transcends that incredibly powerful golden anchor is my beautiful wedding ring. I received both my ring and a small fraternity sweetheart badge from my husband. Both are treasured and so, so lovely. Both demonstrate David’s faith in me and in our family bond. But our Delta Gamma badge? It was conferred to me by more than 175,000 women. I was entrusted with that badge by strangers. When that badge was provided to me, I was reminded, in a whispered and subtle way, in the words of our Founders, “Cori, you belong here. You belong with us.”

Even now, something extraordinary happens when I put on my Delta Gamma badge. I’m reminded that I belong. I belong to you, and to this Fraternity, and to what we believe. My Delta Gamma experience is publicly affirmed because I wear the badge. My sisters are easily spotted. And I belong. And so do you. 

In an age of political and social tension, divisive discussion, class distinction, activism against systems that oppress, I wear this badge as a sign that our inclusive values transcend the divides that our culture can impose. I wear this badge as an outward sign of my pride in who we are, and where we are going. I wear it to explain how our experience is meaningful, and how the power of our experience can transcend a diverse membership and diverse interests. I wear it to show other women that they too can belong to something powerful. 

We’re not alone when we wear our golden anchor. I’ve seen the Sigma Sigma Sigma triangle greet me at church, and I’ve noticed the Alpha Kappa Alpha ivy leaf badge at a Junior League meeting. If I meet a member of Beta Theta Pi, wearing his single diamond on the field of black, or an Alpha Xi Delta, with her beautiful quill, I know, like they hopefully know, that we’ve both signed up for something big. We are searching for meaning together.  Access to that meaning in our membership is yours to find and discover for yourself. Please wear your golden anchor badge during your search for meaning, throughout your life. You might find sisters when you need support, or a partner in hope and optimism. Beacons of hope should be easy to find in this life filled with chaos and change and challenges. Look for other women wearing our Delta Gamma badge. And your badge? If it is long lost or hasn’t seen the sunshine in a while? Please, find it, pull it out on a special occasion, and put it back on. I invite you to participate in International Badge Day, in the hopes that you’ll rediscover your own personal sense of belonging. We’re all in this together. Let’s make it easy to spot who’s in “our tribe” with the beautiful, immutable symbols of our Founders.

Cori Gilbert Wallace, Delta Omega-William Woods, Vice President: Communications