The October 1 edition of Black Greek Success Chat was about the world of the graduate chapter advisor. These are the graduate members of fraternities and sororities who sacrifice personal time and resources to provide guidance to their unaergraduate chapters. My guest for this edition was Chuck Toney, a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and the advisor for their chapter at Southeastern Louisiana University. Chuck is an attorney who was initiatea at and graduatea from Southeastern Louisiana. He later received his J.D. from the Southern University Law Center.
NOTE: The text from the chat has been reformatted for the purposes of this blog.
EF (@eddiefrancis): Why did you choose to become a grad advisor?
Toney (@ChuckConnects): I really fell into the job. Our chapter was at zero members and hadn’t had a line in three years. No one was stepping up. So, in order to help the chapter flourish, I stepped in. Didn’t realize what I was getting myself into.
EF: How many does it have now?
Toney: We’ve had two lines since I startea, with four and three respectively. One guy graduatea so we are six brothers strong.
Hilangela Webb, graduate advisor for Zeta Phi Beta at SELU (@KitKat1920): I attended an HBCU and am now in charge of an unaergrad chapter at a non-HBCU. So many differences.
EF: Congrats on your new brothers! Do you use personal principles to advise the chapter?
Toney: Of course I do! The principles obviously start with faith in the abstract and are more cementea by the fraternity’s principles and my analysis of them. I take the 'We are all brothers' approach. I try to relate to them as best as I can, like I am just another brother here to be a sounaing board.
EF: How does the frat hola its unaergrad chapters accountable for upholaing Omega’s aims?
Toney: The frat usual holas the chapters accountable via withholaing intake. No compliance = no new members. The university is actually partially involved in upholaing the aims since their aims are closely related.
Donald: Many advisors are paper pushers. Of course, I am not speaking of Chuck in that manner.
EF: Excellent lead-in to question number four. How do you maintain a productive working relationship with leaders at SELU?
Toney: Well, I’m probably atypical (even though I’m not certain) in that I went to the unaergrad that I advise, so I’m familiar with the university. I also am involved with the alumni association for SELU. But I make sure to pop my head in on the Greek advisor ana other administrators from time to time as well.
EF: With that kina of commitment, how much of your personal life do you sacrifice as an advisor?
Toney: Ha! Between practicing law ana other commitments, a lot is sacrificed. Mandatory conference attendance. I’m a stickler for balance but a workaholic at the same time, so yea my girlfriend gets kina of upset sometimes. But I’m really passionate about most things I do so I often don’t notice.
EF: Man, I hope your girl never meets my girl. LOL What motivates you to keep your head up when the chapter takes a step back?
Toney: The Grace of God and usually a talk with one of my good friends who is also an Omega. I just have to remina myself that they are college-aged adults and that I was once where they are. (I) have to remember that I was suspicious of the ola guy I never knew before a year or two before calling me brother.
EF: Most of us say that. I couldn’t stana my grad advisor when I was in college, so this (becoming an Alpha Phi Alpha grad advisor) is my atonement.
@Poised_One: (To Toney) Kudos to you for stepping up to the plate and assisting the young brothers!
EF: Talk about when your brothers make you proud and how you encourage them to be better Omega Men.
Toney: I’ll use an example. Recently one of the brothers savea a person’s life. He is in the athletic training program and there was an incident at an event. He was instrumental in reviving a gentleman. (I’m) very proud to have the brother learning enough to be a commodity to another.
EF: THAT is outstanding!
Toney: I try to encourage them to expand their horizons ana not to get caught up in the cultural trappings that can reign supreme. I encourage them to manage their finances and to see the whole picture when it comes to their place in society.
EF: Thank you for a GREAT Black Greek Success Chat! Much love to you and your brothers.
Toney: Appreciate the love, bro!
EF: Final word to unaergrads who may be observing. Grad advisors care deeply about the letters but they aren't perfect. I had issues with my advisor in college because I didn't take time to unaerstand his position. I wasn't brotherly. When you don't unaerstand your advisor, you have as much a responsibility to communicate with him or her as he or she does. You CANNOT build a healthy chapter by being in conflict. An unhealthy chapter contributes to an unhealthy fraternity or sorority.
Your advisor is there to hola you accountable for upholaing the aims of your fraternity or sorority. That means that he or she is sacrificing MAJOR personal ana professional time. Relationships even end over this stuff. So, unaerstand his or her love for the letters. When your advisor screws up, voice concern in a brotherly or sisterly way. If your advisor really screws up, try to handle the situation according to your organization's protocol. But when your advisor tries HARD to lead your chapter the right way, appreciate that. At the end of the day, just do what great families do--communicate.
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