In an effort to highlight the young leaders who are leading undergraduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the brothers of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.’s Zeta Chi Chapter at Georgia Southern University and did an interview with Jarvis Steele the president of the chapter.
The position of president of an undergraduate chapter of a Black fraternity is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. 21-year-old Jarvis Steele has used the position to gain new leadership experience, improve the lives of other students on campus and help the community around him.
We interviewed the Political Science and Philosophy major and talked about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold a leadership position on campus in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
The chapter Polaris is someone who has the ability to accurately articulate the ideas of the chapter, make the tough decisions when necessary and the serves as the main guardian of the ideas and beliefs of the organization. The chapter Polaris serves as the guiding light that keeps his chapter on the road to greatness, but can also provide incite and leadership by giving the individual members of his chapter the ability to express themselves and their ideas as individuals. You have to both be willing to lead and follow and understand all your brothers strengths and weaknesses.
What made you decide to attend Georgia Southern University for undergrad?
Georgia Southern University gives students options. It constantly provides the opportunity for advancement and the sheer amount of extra curricular organizations offered was a strong selling point for me, but that’s not even mentioning the connections and relationships that Georgia Southern University graduates have. I have traveled overseas and I have traveled all over the South East our graduates are spread far and wide, with a legacy that is vast and positive.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
With an added focus on community service has got our chapter closer to focusing on the things that make the organization itself so wonderful. We have set community service goals for ourselves as a chapter and continue to set new ones as we reach our previous goals. These service opportunities include community clean ups, campus clean ups, volunteering at high schools and with local kids and helping with the local farmers market.Theta Talk has been a constant method of promoting Greek Unity on our campus and keeps other organizations involved by giving them a way to talk about different initiatives that they have planned and different things that make our organizations great. Theta Talk also serves as a branding tool that sets us apart from other chapters and gives us a different focus.
What made you want to pledge Iota Phi Theta?
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated allowed me to express who I am as an individual while being apart of a strong collection of brothers that are supportive without being overbearing, that are hard working without recognition, that are accepting while critical and most importantly have deep roots in their respective communities. We are the leaders of today and tomorrow and as a member of the youngest org in the Divine Nine I have the ability to come in and immediately help actively shape my organization into what I want it to be. This is an organization for those that are hardworking, motivated and dedicated to having the vision for change, working on that vision themselves, and determined to see that vision through.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The Zeta Chi chapter is so unique because of our ability to attract members that come from all different walks of life. We have a strong variety of members that excel in a variety of aspects. From IT professionals to radio personalities to graphic designers our reach spans all across campus and reaches all different social groups. We are one of the fastest growing chapters in our region and we pride ourselves on maintaining a common brand with the rest of our state and region.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think undergraduate chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2018?
Organizations need to make it a point to first connect with the common brand that the larger national offices want to present, but more importantly try to be intentional with the things they post, consistent with the content they present and clear with the messaging that they put forward.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me is the ability to create a common vision, while simultaneously promoting the ideas and opinions of the collective. It is both knowing the people that you are leading, but most importantly keeping sight of yourself and who you are. As a leader it is your charge to bring the group together and strive for a common purpose, while crafting a unique, but common identity.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is important to Black Greekdom because it serves as a way to connect the Black Greek community internationally. It is the place where culture meets expression and representation and it gives us as undergraduate students a organized way to look at what other organizations and chapters are doing. We need sites like Watch The Yard to constantly reinforce the bond that is being black and greek. Our letters last a lifetime, so Watch The Yard and sites like it help better immortalize the greek culture everywhere.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood to me is knowing at 2:00am that no matter what you have a ride. It’s randomly meeting for lunch and knowing that money or not someone has you. It’s going countless days without talking and picking right back up where you left off. Brotherhood is always having someone to fall back on, always having a shoulder to lean on and never being without a helping hand. Brotherhood is arguments, criticisms, disagreements, good days, bad days and everything in between. Brotherhood is a work in progress and it’s messy, but it’s one of the most valuable things I have.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduating I hope to attend law school and eventually open my own practice. As a lawyer I would like to start a network of men and women that are members of Divine Nine organizations to try civil cases. After working in the field of law I would like to eventually move into the political field and run for public office.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Jarvis Steele for his work as the president of Zeta Chi Chapter which has a legacy that just has just begun 2017.