In an effort to highlight the professionals who are in charge of Fraternity and Sorority Life at colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the University of West Georgia’s Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Amy Damron, to get her perspective on greek life in 2019 and her thoughts of what the future of fraternities and sororities will look like over the next decade nationally.
Damron is a Fall 2006 initiate of the Gamma Omega Chapter of Alpha Xi Delta at Henderson State University and has worked in the field of advising Fraternity and Sorority Life for 5 years.
We interviewed her about her campus, her position and her thoughts on future of fraternities and sororities on college campuses nationally over the next 50 years.
Read the full interview below.
What does your job as a Fraternity and Sorority Life Professional entail?
My job as a Fraternity and Sorority Life Professional entails a lot more than what is on the job description. I am here to make sure that all students are successful during their college experience and after they depart the university. That includes anything and everything that you could think of that deals with a student, their personal connections, academic well being, and/or professional development. It really just depends on the day because none of my days are the same routine. There is always something new happening!
Why did you decide to go into a job as an advisor of fraternity sorority life?
I decided to go into Fraternity and Sorority Life because I was jumping from job to job and not feeling much fulfillment in what I was doing. So, I stopped and reevaluated my life. I could pinpoint the change in my life happened when I joined my sorority freshman year in college. I gained confidence, leadership skills, and lots more when I became a member of Alpha Xi Delta.
When I sat down to reevaluate my life, I decided that I wanted to give back to something that had already given me so much. I began researching and wanted to see what all was out there for me to get involved with in the Fraternity and Sorority Life Community. I remembered the Greek Advisor that was at Henderson State University when I was an undergraduate member and he always seemed to enjoy his job. I wanted to be able to facilitate that experience for others in hopes that they would enjoy their experience as much as I did in college.
Why do you think NPHC and Multicultural fraternities and sororities are important on your campus?
National Pan-Hellenic Council and Multicultural Greek organizations give students the ability to be involved in an organization that gives them a safe space to find out their leadership abilities, social action, and a place to belong. The NPHC, or “Divine Nine”, organizations were created in a time when segregation was very prevalent and there were no options for students of color to join fraternities and sororities. Multicultural Greek organizations began to form because students saw a need to represent all of their personal cultures through fraternities and sororities. The Multicultural Greek organizations embrace the many qualities and richness of other cultures shared by their friends and families.
With the prevalence of stories about sexual, assault, hazing and substance abuse, why do you think NPHC and MGC greek life should continue to be supported by colleges and universities?
College and universities should continue to support NPHC and MGC fraternities and sororities because they provide a big piece of student life to campuses. Not only do they provide safe havens for students of color, but they stand against sexual assault, substance abuse, and hazing. Some chapters within the organizations have given the organization as a whole a bad reputation. However, if you look at how many students are involved in these groups and what positive they do daily, you will see that they are extremely valuable on campuses.
NPHC and MGC organizations provide educational programming on campus to address social issues, substance abuse, and other issues that college students face. This provides a huge opportunity for students on campus to learn from their peers, build networking, and the students presenting are perfecting their professional skills for after college.
Looking at the future from a campus administrative perspective, where do you see greek life 10 years from now?
When I think about the next 10 years for Fraternity and Sorority Life, I think that unless we make some radical changes, it may not be around anymore. That is very sad, but think about if other organizations that have had issues like fraternities and sororities have had. They would no longer be around or they would have to alter the way they operate in order to continue. We are at that point in Fraternity and Sorority Life. Changes need to be made or these organizations will be a thing of the past.
What is something undergrads need to do to ensure that undergraduate greek life on college campuses will survive and be around 50 years from now?
Undergraduate students need to bring back the values-based experience into their organizations. Students need to take everything back to the basics and make their founders proud with every decision they make from now on. If fraternities and sororities continue this path some are currently on, future generations will not get the opportunity to join the organizations because they will be long gone. To preserve this important part of campus life, we must make decisions that support our organizations longevity and legacy.
How do you see individuals who join NPHC/MGC orgs benefit personally from going greek?
Individuals that join NPHC and MGC organizations gain confidence, networking, and much more! This does not only apply to their college experience, but in their graduate chapter experience as well. These organizations are special because they have many experiences after college to take advantage of and enjoy. This further affirms that they are to join these organizations for life. The social activism, community service, and philanthropic fundraisers are not just for collegiate members to do, but also for all members current and alumni to get involved.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think undergraduate chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?
In the digital world that we live in, all students, need to be careful of what they post online. Once you post something, someone can screenshot it, save it, and send it off to someone else or repost it. Yes, it is 2019 and you should be able to do and say what you want. However, when representing an organization with its mission, values, and goals, you must hold yourself to a higher standard. That is the point of these organizations. Stop posting only probates, stroll off competitions, and step shows! Post your accomplishments and academic achievements! If you do not have anything to post, then that is what you need to work on with your chapter.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important?
I think Watch The Yard is important to students that are thinking of joining NPHC organizations. It helps to get an unbiased look at the Divine Nine and educate themselves before pursuing an organization.
What are some initiatives you see the greeks on your campus doing that make you proud?
At the University of West Georgia, all four councils have been up to great things! Collaboration was a big theme this year. We had organizations that had never talked throw events together and they were huge successes!
NPHC hosted “NPHC Convocation” and invited the other three councils to attend to learn more about their organizations. We had over 100 Panhellenic sorority women show up to support the event and learned a lot while they were there. The Tau Chi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha hosted their “Stroll Like an Alpha” event for a fundraiser and raised over $1,500 for their philanthropy. Our Delta Psi Chapter of Kappa Delta raised over $13,000 for the second year in a row for Carroll County Child Advocacy Center and Prevent Child Abuse America. The Zeta Beta Chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. earned several awards for their support of any student organization and their dedication to diversity and inclusion.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite part of my job is watching a student become involved and see their transformation. This is not only Greek students that this happens for, but all students. I am so proud of students and their accomplishments! They start out very unsure, but once they figure it all out, they help others figure it out too. It is amazing to see students supporting other students.
What is it about the NPHC and MGC greek community at your college/university that makes it unique/special?
NPHC and MGC at the University of West Georgia are unique in that the two councils often collaborate on events and educational programs. They host several different events on campus together and attend each other’s new member presentations. Recently, the University of West Georgia broke ground on the NPHC Garden placed in the center of campus. This is very important because two years ago the students wanted to have this memorial and they are getting to see the fruits of their labor.
We at Watch The Yard would like to thank Amy Damron for taking time to speak on these important issues.