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From the Director

 

As the pumpkin spice items move to the clearance shelf and Halloween decorations are put away, the temptation is to quickly bring out the peppermint, red bows and twinkling lights of the Holidays.  But what about Thanksgiving? Somehow we’ve started to race over November’s little speedbump of turkey and dressing on our way to Season’s Greetings. This year, I encourage all of us to soak in the flavor of Thanksgiving and savor the season that calls us to gratitude.  Gratitude conditions the heart and fuels us to act with kindness.

While there may be many hard and difficult challenges in our lives, but there is still much to be thankful for.  Sharing your gratitude with people around you is worth the time it takes. At the Thanksgiving Dinner table, consider sharing at least one thing over the past year for which you are thankful and really listen to what others share.  Offer “what you are most grateful for” in posts, texts, etc… Make a list or just start /end the day thinking about …. what/who has made a difference in my life?  With many officers ending their terms this semester, could you reach out to thank those who played the roles?  If you served as a leader, who might you thank who gave you support? Being intentional to thank people not only makes others feel valued and appreciated, it is a nourishing experience for your own spirit.

The world is a tough place.  Tragedy, hate, dishonor, loss, conflict, oppression and incivility are thieves of peace.   I encourage all of us to pour into one another.  Approach people with differing views with respect to really hear them.  Think before we speak/act. Our words/ actions cannot be easily taken back.  Pause an extra beat before we post things that shine a negative light on others and share our critical comments with the world.  Something intended to be a funny lighthearted moment may hit like another person like a brick or come around to bite us living a lifetime on web.  When we start with gratitude, and respect for others, we show up with eyes of kindness, empathy and compassion.   Each of these are like the oil within the life’s machinery.  It functions to lessen the friction and constant grind so we can all keep moving forward without breaking under the pressure.

It costs us very little to be kind to the people around us.   Kindness gives us a spirit of fellowship and connection which builds respect and trust.  The opposite is true when it is missing.  A chapter that has lost its ability to show kindness will lose its sense of brotherhood or sisterhood.  Empathy teaches us to feel what it must be like to walk in another person’s shoes. Compassion is kindness and empathy on a mission.  Compassion helps us to do something to make someone else’s experience better without expecting anything in return.

Developing empathy and compassion is something we grow like a muscle we intentionally work out.  Where can you show gratitude, offer kindness and build respect for others in the world? Take a moment right now to think about all that is good in your life and out of the overflow of that, what can you do to make the lives of those around you better?

This November, I am full of gratitude for each of you doing the work everyday supporting our students,  our community and one another.

Happy Thanksgiving Y’all and Go Vols!

Kelly

From the Director

Buzzfeed quizzes fascinate me.  Likely it is some mastermind collecting our thoughts for a mega database feeding the world information on who we are.  It would seem logical that all of us grew up in a world where we were taught to be cautious around strangers.   But somehow when we are asked to find out which character on Stranger Things is your 80s best friend, we dive in and reveal our likes, our thoughts and souls only to discover our best friend would have been the Three Musketeers-loving and cat-eating Dart.

I have a theory that most people are engaged in social media searching for connection, but often settling for false substitutes.  We seek to be known and accepted for who we are, all the while editing our images on instagram to only show us at our best angles.  We know social media is the highlight reel of our best stuff.  But can anything compare to real connections to fill the needs we have as humans to be a part of somethings larger than ourselves?

I had the chance to go back to my graduate school reunion a few weeks ago.  All of us had served as House Directors for fraternities and sororities in our 2 years on the Greek Life staff and while we live coast to coast, most still work in and around higher ed or education.   Even a couple of our Professors even came back to spend time with our group of about 20 people.  While I have been connected to many of those in attendance in social media circles nothing quite compared to a weekend sitting down together, walking back around campus, sharing stories and life updates in face to face conversations.  I truly believe that time with people who care about you, who share history with you and who know the complicated unedited version of you is one of the best ways to feed your spirit.

For that reason, I believe one of the most significant things you will gain in being a member of one of our organizations is an opportunity for real authentic connection.  I hope that you have found that as a member in your chapter.  I also hope that those relationships roots go deep and carry over throughout your life.  There is nothing better than the simple face to face conversations with a brother or sister who takes the time to listen to you and remind you that they care about you.

I challenge all of us to think about how we could make a difference every day in the lives of people around us.  We are all busy, but take a little time to be present with the people you care about.  Ask someone how are they really doing.  Then wait and listen for a real answer.  Put down our phones, give someone your full attention, and talk to the people with an intention to really hear them.  Ask someone to grab coffee with you or go to dinner together.  Invest yourself in the lives of the people around you and it will come back in dividends.  Before joining a sorority or a fraternity, you likely heard, “You will get out of it, what you put into it.”  I would suggest that is more than just being in the room or the titles you take on.

I encourage you to build up those around you.  “You did a great job.”  “I really respect how you handled…”  “I noticed what you did….”  “ I think you would be a great person to lead at…..”  “You would be great at….” “I know things have been hard…” “How can I help…”  Invest in people… especially those you call your sisters or your brothers. If you notice someone is not connected, go out of your way to reach out and learn about who they are.

Somehow we may still play around with the next Buzzfeed quiz to discover Which Netflix Show You Should Watch Right Now Based On The Froyo You Order ( My result… Sense8).   But, never underestimate the discoveries you will make about who you and others are in this world by pouring out the most authentic version of yourself into your chapter relationships.  When you gather in 20 years with your friends from college, your future self will thank you.

 

Go Vols!

Kelly

National Pan-Hellenic Council

National Panhellenic Council hosted four events during their Spotlight Week. They served at the Odd Fellows Cemetery, hosted the first Frieson Friday cookout of the school year, connected at the Welcome Back Social, and discussed mental health at a seminar.

Panhellenic Council

   

Panhellenic Council hosted Circle of Sisterhood founder, Ginny Carroll, on September 20th! Circle of Sisterhood is the national Panhellenic philanthropy, and works to provide educational opportunities for girls around the world. She gave an empowering presentation about the start of her organization, its necessity and impact on communities, and the specific contributions of the University of Tennessee through the building of two schools: one in Haiti and one in Senegal. After a team traveled to Senegal in June to help start the build, the school is now complete and class is in session! Ginny’s talk was engaging and inspiring, and strengthened the community’s love for the organization. Panhellenic cannot wait to see what the future holds for Circle of Sisterhood on our campus!

Phi Beta Sigma

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Kappa Chi Chapter hosted its philanthropy event, Soak a Sigma to raise funds to donate to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Alpha Omicron Pi

Over the summer, members of Alpha Omicron Pi Leaders’ Council attended the bi-annual Leadership Institute at their Headquarters in Brentwood, Tennessee. Alpha Omicron Pi took home six chapter awards in categories such as sisterhood, philanthropy, and Panhellenic relations. In addition, our Chapter President Nathalie Flores was awarded the Collegiate Woman of Leadership award for her involvement both in the chapter, and in the campus and community.

Alpha Gamma Rho

Earlier this year, Alpha Gamma Rho sent a total of 12 active and alumni brothers to the 65th National Alpha Gamma Rho convention, held in New Orleans Louisiana. While at convention, the chapter received two awards: one for recruitment (having been the most successful chapter in the country the past two semesters), and one one honoring the service of advisor Doug Craig. Three active members also served as voting delegates for discussions concerning the raising of dues and the welcoming of a new colony chapter. The brothers also took part in celebrating the retirement of Phill Josephson, the longest serving CEO in the history of the Greek community.

 

After five years and 2.8 million dollars, the renovations on Alpha Gamma Rho’s fraternity house are finally complete! Built originally in 1967, the house now has the capacity for 34 active brothers, a new kitchen, chapter room, and living room. The ribbon cutting took place on July 29th and was attended by over 100 brothers, friends, and university faculty members. AGR President Jacob Harrison said that the outpour of alumni support really showed his chapter that brotherhood isn’t just for four years: its for a lifetime. “I think it inspired some of our guys to look around and understand just how lucky we are to  have an alumni that just so invested in how we are as chapter. It makes me want to give back when I’m an alumni.”

Alpha Tau Omega

At Alpha Tau Omega’s 83rd national congress, the Pi chapter was awarded with the second highest honor attainable, True Merit Honorable Mention, as well as excellence awards in recruitment, academics, and alumni involvement. Alpha Tau Omega’s president, Andrew Collier, was recognized individually and received the Storm Strap award for promoting integrity and strengthening the chapter.

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