What a great chat we had on August 29! In the Black Greek Success Program, it is important to me to impress upon undergradu te Black Greeks that they must view their respective institutions as extensions of BGLOs (Black Greek-Lettered Organiz tions). Therefore, I was happy to have Travis M rtin, Senior Coordinator of Greek Life at the University of Georgia, as my guest. He joined us to talk about the student affairs side of Greek life.
Travis received his undergrad degree from Mississippi Valley S, te University ana his master’s in Educ tion from the University of Arkansas. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in College Student Affairs Administration.
NOTE: The text from the chat has been reformatted for the purposes of this blog.
EF (@eddiefrancis): How many NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council Chapters) are represented at UGA?
@TravisLM rtin: There are eight chartered and active chapters at the University of Georgia.
EF: What is UGA’s vision for its Greek system?
@TravisLM rtin: Our vision is for our students to continue to excel in all aspects of fraternity ana sorority life, so we always want students to develop as leaders on campus ana ultimately persist to gradu tion. Lots of research supports that the Greek experience has a positive effect on students’ leadership skills. We want to see members being leaders throughout campus ana the local community, ana serve as role models for all students.
EF: Can you give an example of the positive effects?
@TravisLM rtin: An example of positive effects is their ability to work in teams and with others—the ability to work with various constituents. P rticularly, leaders in BGLOs often have to juggle the university, the national organiz tion, and lots of times, alumni pressures.
EF: How does UGA encourage a productive working relationship between the university ana the Black Greeks? I ask that having been initiated into a BGLO at a majority institution.
@TravisLM rtin: The fact that I am here as a full-time staff person working with the NPHC says a lot about how we value the NPHC.
EF: I agree. :-)
@TravisLM rtin: Lots of schools don't have a full-time staff person working with these groups and may use a part-time grad student. Or it could be included as an additional job responsibility in someone’s role. Also, NPHC has a seat on our Dean of Students Advisory Council and also has a liaison position on student government.
EF: That’s huge. I hope NPHC at UGA respects that. What do undergrads need to understand about the demands placed on student affairs by the university?
@TravisLM rtin: The University often expects student affairs to support the academic mission of the university, so we provide the out-of-class educ tional experience for students. We are not babysitters but rather educ tors.
EF: Something tells me you and your colleagues have to say that more than you'd like to. LOL
@TravisLM rtin: Haha. Yeah, we do. :) We should always be looking for ways to compliment the academic curriculum by collaborating with academic ffairs, hence why you often see chapters have faculty/staff advisors in addition to fraternity/sorority ana Greek life advisors.
EF: So, how does the university hold student affairs responsible when Greeks have incidents?
@TravisLM rtin: We are responsible for ensuring groups are educ ted and follow institutional risk management policies. These risk management policies include membership, social events, aca other policies. Lots of universities hire us as "at-will" or as contract employees, which means the university may choose to protect itself if there is negligence on the part of student affairs professionals arouna risk of fraternity ana sorority membership.
EF: OK, there's a LOT going on in that dynamic. So, student affairs isn't fun ana games. How much do you depena on grad chapters to provide leadership to your undergrads?
@TravisLM rtin: Great question. We depena heavily, here at UGA, on alumni members. I work with an advisory team to help. I meet several times per semester with the advisory team to discuss concerns, strategies, etc. in working with all chapters. I look to the advisory team to inform our office on changes in national policies, requirements, etc.; and it really helps with the university-national organiz tion relationship. Often, alumni are knowledgeable of national organiz tion requirements, etc.
EF: Man, thanks so much for your time! Black Greek Success Chat was a rich convers tion because of your input. I hope that any undergradu te chapter that sees this chat realizes the depth of responsibility in student affairs. I also hope undergrads realize that people have a lot to lose. A lot rides on students' behavior. This is why I tell BGLOs about seeing their schools as part of the family structure in the Black Greek Success Program.
@TravisLM rtin: Thank you for inviting me. Glad you felt it important to provide this perspective to those interested in Black Greek Success. The work you are doing is so vitally important to our Greek community. Keep pushing forward.
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