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 Wake Forest University ‘s Assistant Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life, Shane Taylor, 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.
Taylor is a Spring 2009 initiate of the Zeta Delta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. at UNC-Charlotte and has worked in the field of advising Fraternity and Sorority Life for one and a half 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?
In my current role as Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, I support the fraternity and sorority community at Wake Forest through different diversity and inclusion efforts for 23 Greek letter organizations, while strengthening current harm reduction training for student organizations through the TIPS Training Program. In addition, I oversees our marketing/educational efforts for the community and advise our National Pan-Hellenic, Panhellenic, and Order of Omega councils.
Why did you decide to go into a job as an advisor of fraternity sorority life?
While in undergrad, I was heavily involved with different organizations and departments around campus while serving on our NPHC executive board for two years. Come my senior year, I was kind of at a crossroad about my career aspirations. So my FSL Advisor at the time recommended that I look into exploring a career in Higher Education since I worked well with my colleagues and really flourished as a student leader at UNC Charlotte. A year later, an opportunity was presented to me to work at NC State University as their graduate assistant in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. There I had the chance to work with different councils at the university and continue to support a variety of initiatives the office was looking to develop and as they say in the movies, the rest is history.
Why do you think NPHC and Multicultural fraternities and sororities are important on your campus?
Being at a predominantly white institution(PWI) that is almost 50% percent Greek, it is important that our minority students have an opportunity to experience the bond and development that our fraternities or sororities can provide to students on a college campus. Our NPHC and Multicultural organizations allow students a safe place to grow with other students at the university in an environment where they can be themselves but supported by other allies at our institution. With Wake Forest University having a heavy focus on academics our organizations also ensure that members persist through their years at the university and graduate with employment opportunities all across the country.
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?
Similar to my answers above, I feel that NPHC/MGC organization can have a huge influence on a students college experience and possess the ability to develop a sense of belonging for a person at their particular school. However, these issues above are not just one sided and it is important that our NPHC/MGC students are engaged in these conversations with others since these incidents happen in our organizations, they just occur in a different manner or setting. For our groups to stay on-campus, it is imperative that they continue to engage different educational resources to receive the correct information so they can educate their current and prospective members about the dangers of the above stories. Our organizations were built to be the leaders at colleges and being at the forefront of these conversations show administrators that our organizations care about solving these issues.
Looking at the future from a campus administrative perspective, where do you see greek life 10 years from now?
I still see Fraternities and Sororities present and thriving years from now at institutions. When done right, Fraternities and Sororities can be the best environment for undergraduates during their years at university. Through my experience in higher education, I have not found many clubs or organizations on-campus that bond students together using years of correct tradition, values, and history while looking to serve the community and others like our Greek-lettered organizations do. However, for these organizations to continue to build on its solid foundation it is important that all stakeholders such as alumni chapters, national organizations, other campus partners are involved. This can be done by working together to develop realistic expectations/goals that help our NPHC and MGC organizations continue to grow on-campus and make an impact in different areas of the student body at their institution.
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?
The biggest advice I would give undergrads is that 1. It is important for students of color at a university to realize their voice can make a major impact but one organization can’t be the only one voicing their concerns. If students want to see a massive change on their campus it is essential that they look for opportunities to collaborate and join together with other minority students to ensure their voice is heard loud and clear 2. Don’t be afraid to reach out to prospective members that could be an asset to your organization. We live in a day and time where people are looking at the cost-benefit of joining an organization. Such that, it is important that NPHC and MGC organizations are selling themselves early and often to students so interested individuals see the benefits of making the large investment of joining a minority-serving organization on-campus. The days of “We Don’t Recruit” have to conclude especially at a PWI because the cost of attending a university is increasing year to year so incoming students are weighing their options of what they will commit their finances too so they can succeed in school. Furthermore, it is important that organizations are up front with interested students about the time, energy and cost it takes to be in a well run organizations because as my late chapter advisor always said; “It is easier becoming a Kappa than being a Kappa” and for a legacy to continue on it is important that all members(from the newest to the oldest) are committed to the mission, direction, and details of running said organization.
How do you see individuals who join NPHC/MGC orgs benefit personally from going greek?
Individuals who join NPHC and MGC organizations have an opportunity to grow with like-minded students during their college years and be part of a support system that will lift them up through the good and bad times. Your brothers and sisters might challenge you and sometimes get on your last nerve however you know at the end of the day they have your best interest at heart and want to push you to be the best version of yourself. Our organizations can also be people’s biggest cheerleaders when you need that extra push during an exam or be an open ear to listen to when things might be going awry in one’s life. Our organizations were built to be a haven for underrepresented students on college campuses where students can socialize, support one another and grow while in undergrad. As previously stated “when done right” our chapters can really be an environment that develops the future leaders of our world who will make an impact in their respective fields after graduation.
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?
I saw one of my Frat Brothers the other day post about the Joe Budden podcast and Joe Budden made a good point that I think undergrads need to consider when representing themselves online in 2019. He said before posting anything ask yourself: 1) Does it need to be said? 2) Does it need to be said by me? 3) Does it need to be said by me right now?
Sometimes our chapters want the exposure on social media but chapters look to post problematic images or videos for shock value that don’t align with the core values of the organization. So I would encourage chapters to really think about the material they are putting out there for the public to view. People are using these platforms to learn more about the organization and see if they are a fit so it is essential that we are selling what we want to see in prospective members. There is nothing wrong with promoting your accolades but do it in a way that celebrates everyone’s achievements instead of tearing down others.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important?
Looking at Watch The Yard’s content over the past few years, I have been really impressed about how they have documented NPHC organizations in a positive light and displaying what it means to be in a Black-Lettered Organization on a college campus. In addition, their ability to look back at the history of our organizations and celebrate the tradition all of our chapters have had over the years at a variety of campuses is truly impressive. Lastly, I appreciate the website using their platform to spotlight different people in professional careers to show that undergraduate students can still pursue different passion areas and their fraternity or sorority experience can have a direct correlation to their professional career aspirations.
What are some initiatives you see the greeks on your campus doing that make you proud?
Our NPHC students are heavily involved with different aspects of the Wake Forest community that allow me to see their impact on a day to day basis. Students hold positions in Student Government, Black Student Alliance, athletic teams and many of my students serve as Resident Advisors for the campus too. In addition, when racial incidents occurred on-campus this semester, many of our students were involved with working with the administration to address the needs of minority students on-campus and develop long-term plans that will ensure all students of color feel they have a place of belonging at the university. Lastly, I am so excited about the future of NPHC at Wake Forest University due to the fact that our newly elected executive board have already begun planning for the Fall semester and looking to collaborate with more campus partners/organizations the upcoming school year.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
There are a lot of aspects of my job that I truly love; with my position being created only a year and a half ago, I have had the opportunity to create new programs and initiatives that will generate long term impact for all of our students at Wake Forest University. It is always a fun time when I am working with a new executive board or chapter president to discuss their goals and then develop a plan of action to ensure they are reaching their potential as a leader. Furthermore, I enjoy just being around students and hearing their day to day interactions. With being at an academically driven school like Wake Forest University, it is nice to be able to take student’s minds out of a stressful environment and remind them that it is okay to have a good time in college(as long as you are being responsible) and leadership positions can be enjoyable when you have the right support. There is nothing like seeing a student come into their own because of their greek experience and become a better person because they had the opportunity to build significant relationships with people around campus. Plus it is nice to be around students who will keep me up to date about a new artist I need to un-retire my shoulders for or trends that are coming back into style hahaha
What is it about the NPHC and MGC greek community at your college/university that makes it unique/special?
With having a pretty young NPHC(the first chapter was chartered in 1988), it has been fun to work with our students to start creating programs and traditions that will last for a lifetime at Wake Forest University. Subsequently, with having a small minority population at our institution you can find our students involved in multiple organizations around on-campus; while working with different professors and resources to land outstanding professional careers all while ensuring their organization’s GPA is well above the all-student GPA average. Our students impress me and others daily by being able to handle multiple tasks given to them with pristine precision while continuing to engage in other opportunities around campus for the betterment of themselves and their individual organization.
We at Watch The Yard would like to thank Shane Taylor for taking time to speak on these important issues.