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 Rutgers University’s Assistant Director of Fraternity & Sorority Affairs, Donald Moore, to get his perspective on greek life in 2019 and his thoughts of what the future of fraternities and sororities will look like over the next decade nationally.
Moore is a Spring 2004 initiate of the Delta Iota Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at Rutgers in New Brunswick and has worked in the field of advising Fraternity and Sorority Life for 5 years.
We interviewed him about his campus, his position and his 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?
I serve as the primary advisor to the Rutgers Multicultural Greek Council (home to our NPHC, NALFO, NAPA, NMGC affiliated organizations) and the Rutgers Interfraternity Council. The Rutgers-New Brunswick campus currently has 88 organizations, most of which fall into those two councils. One of which happens to be my home chapter of Delta Iota. In addition to that, I supervise a graduate student who assists in advising those two councils, facilitate monthly diversity dialogues for Greek students in partnership with other campus offices, and monitor our academic accountability program. While those are some of my main responsibilities, what is needed of me can change on a dime as most student affairs professionals know. The “other duties as assigned” can be realer than most and the advising role goes well beyond council activity.
Why did you decide to go into a job as an advisor of fraternity sorority life?
Like most pros will tell you, we didn’t come into college expecting to take this path. I didn’t even know I could pursue it as a profession until my senior year. First and foremost, I credit Alpha and the brothers in my chapter for the opportunities that lead me into this field. Joining Alpha was the stepping stone and has become a bedrock on my journey. My involvement with my chapter (President, New Member Educator, Council Rep.) opened me up to the larger campus community (interning for the VP of Student Affairs, working at the Paul Robeson Cultural Center) and peers and mentors who helped me develop both personally and professionally. After many long talks, I came to believe that working in fraternity/sorority life was a career path that I could find enjoyment in and do well. That’s what took this kid from Pleasantville, New Jersey to Bowling Green, Ohio to pursue a degree in student affairs.
Why do you think NPHC and Multicultural fraternities and sororities are important on your campus?
Whether we are talking about students, staff, or faculty, representation matters. One of my motivators for entering the student affairs field was the lack of black male representation I saw on the professional side. I wanted to be one of those examples I constantly sought out as a child and as a maturing young man. On a predominately white college campus, culturally based fraternities and sororities help assist with the development and cultivation of cultural awareness and aid in the development of cultural identity. These organizations show students that their cultural identities are something to be proud of and can exist and persist in spite of what the dominant culture dictates. On such a large college campus, students struggle enough navigating the physical space and finding places to belong. I believe these organizations make what can be a massive, intimidating place feel much smaller and manageable.
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?
Sexual assault, hazing, and substance abuse does not see race, ethnicity, gender, orientation, ability, national origin, or the like. As members of culturally based fraternal organizations, WE ARE NOT EXEMPT from the ills of these issues. This dedication to secrecy and discretion has infected spaces and places it does not belong. The notion that “what goes on in this house, stays in this house” needs to be smashed in regard to these issues. We have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge the problems before we can actively work on solutions, from the top down. We also have to acknowledge the wealth of cultures that exist on our campuses and how those cultures play into these beliefs. This is a complex problem that requires complex solutions. It’s not something we can wait for others to fix for us.
Looking at the future from a campus administrative perspective, where do you see greek life 10 years from now?
My hope is that it is alive, thriving and relevant. I am optimistic but I have to be realistic at the same time. Some of our feelings and opinions as fraternity and sorority members are a bit archaic. Unfortunately, undergraduates looking to their prophytes for guidance and knowledge, get caught up in what was and lose focus on what is. Like everything else in life, change is inevitable. We see it happening all around us. If we don’t learn how to bend, we are bound to break. We have to be more vigilant about safe-guarding our organizations. We have to be willing to make the hard decisions before those decisions start getting made for us.
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?
What we do as members of the Greek community never has and never will be just for our own personal benefit. Getting back to the basic reasoning behind the founding of our organizations and living in that truth would do a great deal of good for our future on and off college campuses. Many of our organizations were founded out of a legitimate need. Not as a source of fun, but as a means of support and survival. They were voice and presence for those who felt invisible and silenced. We tend to take for granted what the men and women who founded our organizations had to endure so we can wear these letters. We do their legacies a disservice when we dismiss the same missions and values that made our membership a possibility and replace them with selfishness and self-seeking. As undergraduates, the goal should be to leave something purposeful and meaningful for those coming behind you to aspire to be part of.
How do you see individuals who join NPHC/MGC orgs benefit personally from going greek?
It might sound cliché, but “when done right” the transformative power of our organizations is limitless. I’ve seen individuals go from naïve neos to grounded and committed campus leaders. I’ve seen members find homes, families, and support they never had. I see students grow in confidence and self-awareness. I see students learn their worth in and out of the classroom. I see these same students pursue careers and make time to give back to their chapters, reinforcing the emphasis we put on it being a lifetime commitment. I can personally attest to this experience and I get to see these tiny miracles happen daily.
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?
Is this for your life or is it for likes?
That’s a question we have to ask ourselves. Simple but quite loaded. Does what you post represent who you are? Is it what your chapter is about? Does your academic and community energy match the energy put into stepping/strolling/presentation vids? We attract what we promote. Iron sharpens iron. There is fun to be had but there has to be a balance.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important?
I see Watch The Yard as an important source of representation and empowerment for black Greekdom. It connects the present and past in a relevant and meaningful way. I have colleagues who love reading it and undergrads who want to be on it. I can come here and see what other Greeks are currently doing on other campuses and also learn about those who came before me and their contributions to this community we all love and cherish.
What are some initiatives you see the greeks on your campus doing that make you proud?
My favorite initiatives are the ones that are self-driven and address a need. For example, food insecurity is a major issue in the New Brunswick area and affects students just as much as the larger community. Our chapter of Sigma Lambda Beta, having been recipients of generous donations made to our campus food bank, spent the past year collecting donations to give back to the food bank. They have also done programming addressing same-gender sexual assault and men’s health issues. That’s just a sample of the work being done. Members from all of our organizations can be seen in leadership in student government, cultural centers, programming boards, and university-wide committees.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I get to do some awesome things and meet some amazing people and call it “work”. My days are never the same and I’m extremely appreciative of that. I get to see students learn, develop, and grow into strong, capable humans being ready to take the world by storm. No one wants to see people they care about struggle. But to see who they become as a result of that struggle is priceless. I also appreciate the folks I work with and work for. I can’t think of a better place to be doing what I’m doing. We recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the graduation of Brother Paul Robeson along with the opening of a plaza in his honor. As a Rutgers alum and now as a staff member, I can say it’s a great time to be a Scarlet Knight.
What is it about the NPHC and MGC greek community at your college/university that makes it unique/special?
We have the privilege of being one of the largest culturally based communities in the country with 28 chapters and 400+ members. We are also home to Alpha chapters of four culturally based national fraternities and sororities (Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Inc., Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity, Inc, Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc., Omega Phi Chi Multicultural Sorority, Inc.)
We at Watch The Yard would like to thank Donald Moore for taking time to speak on these important issues.
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