Leaders of fraternities and sororities at Missouri University of Science and Technology voted to begin a new education program focused on values beginning this fall to prevent risky behaviors among members.
Governing councils representing 21 of Missouri S&T’s 24 fraternities and sororities voted unanimously last spring in favor of the new training for all students joining their member chapters. They made the decision to introduce the training in response to national news around hazing and other dangerous behaviors associated with Greek membership at American colleges and universities.
“This program is an opportunity for us to educate our peers and reinforce our fraternal ideals – that we are brothers who support one another while expecting excellence,” says Jonathan Thomas, president of the Missouri S&T Interfraternity Council (IFC) and a senior majoring in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Columbia, Missouri. “Our goal is to make our community stronger by ensuring every person in a social Greek organization can identify actions contrary to our core values and can impart change if confronted with any activities that prove questionable.”
Missouri S&T staff in the student involvement office with input from chapter and council leaders developed the program they call Community Values in Action for New Members. Missouri S&T staff members Jonathan Affalter, program coordinator for risk education, and Alison Ayers, assistant director of student involvement, led the effort in response to student perceptions and a lack of training resources across the country.
“We noticed a challenge in our student body, both Greek and non-Greek, where students struggled with identifying activities that didn’t match their values and knowing how to respond if they were aware of that disagreement,” says Ayers. “Rather than take a reactive approach, we developed a program geared toward generating discussions about the intent and impact of our activities and how we can strive for positive outcomes for engagement.”
Missouri S&T developed and piloted the program over the last year, and now the program’s presentation will shift to a peer-delivery model with leadership from the student governing councils. Students will lead the training for their fellow students.
“Our chapter presidents all participated in one of the trainings with an eye toward evaluating how we can improve our community as a whole,” says Panhellenic Council president Alyssa Goldkamp, a senior from St. Louis majoring in chemical engineering. “One of the keys to success will be the peer-delivery model. We know our members, and they’re more likely to respond to a program presented by students with support from our mentors and advisors.”
Missouri S&T leaders say the Community Values in Action for New Members program represents a different approach to educating Greek members than other universities.
“Our fraternity and sorority members are proud of the contributions to the campus both in academic performance and their leadership abilities,” says Dr. Jim Murphy, associate vice chancellor and dean of students. “We always challenge our individuals, chapters and the community as a whole to strive for excellence. That this initiative has arisen from our students, unanimously, is a testament to the strength of our community and their reflection of their commitment to self-management and continuous improvement.”
Missouri S&T recognizes 24 national fraternities and sororities, 21 of which are members of Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils. Nearly 1,500 S&T students – or over 22 percent of the student body – are members of a recognized fraternity or sorority.