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 Bowie State University’s Coordinator of Greek Life, Steve Stephens II, 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.
Stephens is a Fall 1999 initiate of the Beta Epsilon Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. at Langston University and has worked in the field of advising Fraternity and Sorority Life for 8 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?
Overall Training and Development for Greeks at BSU, Supervising Membership Intake for all Orgs, Advisor to 3 councils (NPHC, CIO, GLC), Event planning, Trainer for the Greek Leadership Academy and Greek Academic Support Program, Community Service initiatives, University Homelessness Awareness Rep for Prince George’s County
Why did you decide to go into a job as an advisor of fraternity sorority life?
My undergrad experience at Langston University helped shape the man I am today. The experiences I had and lessons I learned at LU were pivotal in my development. I wanted to be apart of delivering the same experience to students during their journey in higher education.
Why do you think NPHC and Multicultural fraternities and sororities are important on your campus?
At an HBCU Greek life is apart of the heart beat of the campus, they are role models on campus whether they choose to be or not. They lead community service programs, social events, and aspire to student leadership positions. They are one of the branding forces that comes to mind when you think about Black College Life
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?
For every negative Greek Life can counter with a positive, service, mentoring, and academic support, members of these organizations are success stories and great marketing tools for our universities. These issues deserve to be constantly monitored aggressively and addressed swiftly, but to remove over one hundred years of tradition based on the mistakes of the minority is not the answer.
Looking at the future from a campus administrative perspective, where do you see greek life 10 years from now?
As our national offices set the tone for the future, I believe that these organizations will take a proactive stance with membership recruitment and intake. As technology continues to evolve we as Greeks especially culturally based fraternal organizations have to grow with it. How we track data, how we promote and provide services, and how develop our members to become their best selves.
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?
Stop hazing! That is the top priority. Our fraternities and Sororities are businesses and we cannot continuously take the hits that hazing lawsuits are giving. It kills our chapters and university/ Greek organization relations. Secondly actively recruiting quality members, I understand the honor of being in our great organizations should be enough however if I want to maintain or even create a standard for my organization then I have to be willing to remove the barrier between myself and a potential great brother or sister by introducing myself and telling someone of the greatness of my organization.
Recruiting does not mean begging, or bothering someone to be apart of your organization, it means finding those with the potential to lead your fraternity or sorority after you’ve graduated and simply showing an interest in that person.
How do you see individuals who join NPHC/MGC orgs benefit personally from going greek?
I personally am a testament to that, leaving Oklahoma and moving to Baltimore my fraternity played a crucial role with my relocation. I have frat brothers who have benefited in many ways based on our fraternal affiliation.
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?
Active webpages or chapter profiles on their university websites are extremely important. I receive calls from students, community organizations, and businesses looking to contact our Greeks and it is easy to guide them to our BSU Greek Life webpage. Actively use and monitor your social media presence on line. Students come to campus having a full knowledge of Greek life now. When I was in undergrad you had to have a member in your family or a mentor expose you to Greek life to understand the culture before enrolling in college, now that is not the case. Students are more aware of the Greek presence due to movies, TV Shows, and social media. How you shape your narrative is important.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important?
Watch The Yard is a curator of Greek content to the masses. They are shaping the view of Greeks to our youth and those people who are social media savvy. As I stated in my previous comment students and non-Greeks are now gaining a perspective into being Greek that was not previously there before the social media revolution.
What are some initiatives you see the greeks on your campus doing that make you proud?
Off-campus mentoring working with students at local elementary, middle and high schools via tutoring programs, college prep, or community service. Speaking on our College Panel circuit; we receive about 4 request per month to have our Greeks speak to students about Greek life, academic preparation, time management, life skills, etc. I am proud to say that we have been able to speak at over 95% of those requested panels.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Mentoring our students toward their future. I love seeing the light click on for a student, that aha moment. Then seeing them progress into becoming a great leader, business owner, father, mother, etc.
What is it about the NPHC and MGC greek community at your college/university that makes it unique/special?
There is balance here between our Greek orgs, just about every organization is strong in membership or has strong enough interest to obtain new membership when they are ready. Every organization is respected, and they respect each other. There is competition and rivalry but it stays healthy and productive.
We at Watch The Yard would like to thank Steve Stephens, II for taking time to speak on these important issues.