Post by Cody Pritchard, Coordinator of Member Education
In the midst of working with our members on chapter operations, financial management, leadership development, and alike, we often find ourselves as AKL National Headquarters staff engaging in discussions on current issues, especially within the fraternal community. We use these topics, good and bad, as opportunities to educate ourselves and members. This blog is the result of some of our recent discussions. Our intent is to provide AKL members, friends, partners, and colleagues a glimpse at what we are doing to address these issues. As a Fraternity staff, we have a responsibility to engage our members and communities in this dialogue to further develop Men of Character Committed to Making a Difference.
With that said, our most recent discussion centered on these questions; What does a diverse AKL look like? and What are we doing to educate our members on social justice issues? While the circumstances in which this discussion originated are unfortunate, we took this opportunity as a staff to engage in a highly developmental dialogue around race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The recent incidents at the University of Oklahoma, University of Texas, and University of Pennsylvania to name a few, were the premise of our discussion. The unfortunate reality is that these types of incidents seem to be coming more and more prevalent. Whether they are occurring more often, increased reporting, or media attention they are gaining, as staff of a national fraternity and ultimately as positively contributing members of society, we cannot ignore such incidences.
As members in AKL, we subscribe to our Five Ideals. We pledge ourselves to “treat others as [we] would have them treat [us].” We “respect the opinion of others.” We “commit [ourselves] to a style of membership in Alpha Kappa Lambda that is an educationally and socially maturing process.” Part of that process includes engaging in the educative process around diversity and inclusion. It means joining with our campus partners and being advocates for social justice. It means recruiting and engaging with individuals who may look, speak, and think differently than us, all while respecting and appreciating the differences that exist and using them as opportunities to develop our own identity.
Every year, college men across the country participate in fraternity recruitment. Many of us can agree that one of the “selling points” fraternities use at times is the idea of diversity by saying “our chapter is really diverse (said in your best bro voice, of course).” But what does that really mean? Do these fraternity men even know what is meant when they use this as a recruitment tool? How do they define diversity and inclusion? Are we, as a staff, educating our members on what this means? Are we truly doing our due diligence in ensuring our members are practicing what they preach? Simply having a member or two that may come from a different background does not make a chapter diverse. To say such indicates a failure to recognize the beliefs and Ideals to which we subscribe.
So we pose these questions to you; What does a diverse AKL look like? How does AKL educate on social justice issues? How do we ensure our members are being provide an “educationally and socially maturing process?” To be quite honest, we don’t have all of the answers. To claim so would be ignorance on our part. That said, we know ignoring the issues is not a part of the solution. The solution starts with conversations occurring just like those at NHQ this week. We have a responsibility as a staff, as members of AKL, as friends, colleagues, and campus partners to engage our peers in the discussion. We have a further responsibility to take those conversations and begin acting upon them. We have a responsibility to speak up when others are being beat down, belittled, and oppressed. We have a responsibility to be Men of Character Committed to Making a Difference.