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So you’ve been accepted to college and you are getting ready to hit the campus for the first time and immerse yourselves with everything that is college life.

You have heard that there are black fraternities and sororities on campus and you know that you want to be in them and are eager to join. Well we at WatchTheYard.com want to give you some advice on best practices for joining an org so that you don’t screw yourselves over before you even get a shot at becoming greek.

This information is coming from experienced members of black fraternities and sororities and should be shared with as many freshmen as possible. If you are a member of a black fraternity or sorority please share this on your personal Facebook and chapter Facebook page.

Know the meaning of “DISCRETION”

You have heard and maybe seen the greeks on campus at your orientation and they are everywhere but the Golden Rule about joining a black greek org is that you do not make it public that you want to join a black greek org. That means that you should not walk up to the first person you see with letters on and tell them that you want to join their org. It sounds crazy right? It might not make sense to you now, but the longer you are in college, the more you will understand how this works. For now, do not tell people other than your very closest friends that you want to be greek. Running around campus saying things like “I’m gonna be an AKA” is probably the best way to make sure that you will NEVER be an AKA.

Greeks will often say “use discretion”, here is the dictionary’s definition of the word discretion:Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 1.56.35 PM

In easier terms, the whole campus does not need to know that you want to be greek. Don’t be thirsty. NEVER talk about your aspirations for Greekdom on social media. TRUST US. Keep your greek aspirations off the internet.

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This brings us to our next point…

Do not stroll, throw up the hand signs, or try to copy Greek related dances or calls in public EVER.

Greeks on your campus have worked very hard for their letters and do not take other people copying them lightly. Do not ever copy strolls, shimmies, hops, or you could be blackballed from greek life on your campus altogether. You may personally want to show the greeks that you would look good in their org because you can do their moves or look good in their colors but do not do it! Think of it like cultural appropriation. The greeks see their signs as a part of their culture and when you copy them and you are not a part of their culture, they will get mad at you and you could end up never getting the chance to be greek.

Greek calls are also mesmerizing to incoming freshman. A call is when someone makes a distinct noise or chant and other members of their fraternity or sorority scream them back very loudly. These may sound funny at first to anyone who is first encountering greekdom but the more you hear them, the more you will want to join in on them and give them a try. DO NOT GIVE THEM A TRY EVER. DON’T DO IT.

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Never break a stroll line.

At the first party you go to, you will see greeks lined up and moving through the club dancing. This is called a stroll and strolling is a big and fun part of greek life. You are going to want to join in and try but do not do that. Again do not do that. Stick with the dances the rest of the freshmen are doing. This is not the electric slide at your cousins wedding. Save yourself and don’t do it.

Stroll lines circle around the dance floor and move through the crowd of dancers. A general rule of thumb is that if you see one coming, you move. They will not stop for you and you WILL get run over. It does not matter if you are looking cute with your friends or a giant incoming freshman football player who is physically larger that everybody in the stroll line. It is a rule that like you would not stand in front of an oncoming train, you should not stand in front of an oncoming stroll line.

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If you get pushed out of the way by one do not think they are trying to fight you, they are just trying to dance and you are in the way.Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 2.55.43 PM

Most important of all never try to walk between a line of people strolling. This is called “breaking” a stroll line and is one of the worst things you can do. I don’t care if you are President Obama, do not break a stroll line.

Take Your Time Before You Make A Choice On What Org You Want To Commit To Trying To Join!

First thing is first, you cannot join a black fraternity your freshman semester. Point. Blank. Period. They could not even take you if they wanted to, you have to have grades first.

When you first arrive on campus you might see an org you want to join because you like how they look, step and stroll but you should remember that these are brotherhoods and sisterhoods. Committing yourself to try to join a certain sorority or fraternity based on their appearance is like trying to bet on who will win the Super Bowl by how their uniforms look or trying to pick the winner of a boxing match by the color of gloves they wear. It does not work like that.

The first thing you should do when you get to college is be observant of the fraternities and sororities. Watch them and see how they interact with each other, find out how active they are on campus and attend their events, try to find out how much mentorship these members are receiving from graduate members in their org. Not all chapters are the same and some chapters, although they look like they would be fun to show up to a party with, look good on the outside but are messy, lack leadership, and are in general turmoil on the inside. Try to figure out which chapter is the best for you by meeting the members, talking to them and learning what they do. If all goes well, you will become a part of their family. You really do not want to make the wrong choice and join the wrong family.

Take your time. Learn them.

Do your research.

I the writer of this article, have been given the final vote on choosing who was allowed to join my org, as the president of my undergrad chapter. One thing that I would always do was make sure that anyone who wanted to join my org had also hung out with and attended the events of other orgs on campus. I knew that my org was the best fit for me and my brothers, but I also understood that not everyone fits every org. Sometimes people think they want to join your org but have not done their research to find out if other orgs are the right fit for them. I encourage everyone who wants to join an org to also have a good understanding of the rest of the orgs on campus so that they can definitively say, “this is what I want to join, this is the perfect org for me.”

While looking at an org on a campus level is very important, it is also important to look into what the org is doing right now on a state and national level. Some chapters are a certain way on your campus but might be totally different in other states and it is important to know what you are getting into because you will be in this org for the rest of your life. This is a big decision and you really need to do your research.

Also you should be reading as much as you can about the history of all of the Divine 9. Luckily WatchTheYard.com has got you covered.

Join student groups that are not greek.

Every black fraternity and sorority member knows that the most valuable pool of possible members are always found leading or involved in other student groups on campus. They are showing the greeks that it does not matter if they become greek or not, they are leaders and it would be a privilege for the greeks to be able to add them to their brotherhood or sisterhoods.

Be this person. Get active in as many student groups as your homework and grades allow. If you have a lot of stuff going for you, greeks will be more inclined to want you to join their orgs. Show that you have tangible skills to bring to their table!

Not everyone needs to be greek.

You do not need to be greek. Greekdom is not for everybody and that is perfectly cool. You can have an AMAZING time in college without trying to be greek. Be sure of yourself, it is not for everyone.

Save a freshman the trouble of immediately ruining their chances at greekdom by sharing this post with as many people as possible on Facebook.

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3 Ways to Share Our Stepping & Strolling Traditions Without Giving Away Our Culture

Photo Cred: Jarrad Henderson

[This opinion piece was written by guest writer Aleidra Allen for WatchTheYard.com in 2016]

Some of you may have seen the video of incoming University of Louisville freshmen (predominately white and non-Greek) performing what appears to be a stroll, a long standing tradition within Black Greek-letter organization (BGLO) culture, and more recently, Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) culture, at their orientation (while strolling was originally a BGLO tradition, MGC organizations have created their own tradition of strolling, similar in the linear structure but including movements from their respective cultures). A quick glance at the 600+ comments will make it clear that some BGLO members feel it is no big deal while others are outraged and say it’s cultural appropriation.

I understand both of these perspectives. As a member of a BGLO and a Greek Life advisor, countless times, I have seen the teaching of strolls and steps used for community building between MGC and BGLOs and Panhellenic Conference and Interfraternity Council (historically white) organizations. On the other hand, I’ve also attended stroll competitions where I could barely stay in my seat because the appropriation was so real.

The main thing that this situation reveals is a disconnect within our BGLO community on if we should or should not teach white, non-BGLO people how to stroll and step. Because the fact of the matter is that they’re not learning this on their own; our BGLO members are teaching them (which is a main reason why some do not agree that it is cultural appropriation, being that permission is given). Whether you like it or not, this has become a popular collegiate norm. If we want to see change, this internal dissonance must be addressed; I encourage all of our organizations to create space in chapter and council meetings, regional conferences, and international conferences for this topic to be discussed.

Hear each other out. Listen to why some of us feel there’s no issue, and listen to why some of us believe the tradition needs to be held in high regard and reserved for BGLO members only. Maybe then we will be able to collectively decide one way or the other.

But I know that’s wishful thinking. It will be extremely difficult to come to a true consensus or for everyone to be willing to compromise. So while I acknowledge and understand the perspective that this is cultural appropriation and that some BGLO members feel it should be eliminated completely, I also acknowledge that some of y’all will continue to teach non-BGLO, white people how to stroll and step (and I understand that, too). And for you, here are 3 ways to do so in a constructive and meaningful way, moving away from outright cultural appropriation and disrespect.

 

1. Only allow strolling and stepping by non-BGLO people to occur at BGLO-sponsored events.

Strolling and stepping are our traditions. Period. Limiting strolling and stepping by non-BGLO members to the annual non-BGLO stroll competition or fundraiser that is hosted by us gives us the opportunity to control how this goes. We get to set boundaries and parameters. Let the non-BGLO participants know that this is a unique occasion and that it would be inappropriate for them to stroll at a social event or continue on as a step/stroll team outside of this event.

If a Panhellenic or IFC organization, or any non-BGLO entity (the orientation department in the University of Louisville case), ever takes it in their own hands and is creating strolls or making strolling a part of their sponsored events, I highly encourage you to have a conversation with them about why that is inappropriate, and also contact your Greek Life advisor to address this, as well. Never feel that as a BGLO member/student, you have to participate or accept a request to teach strolling/stepping to non-BGLO members. If we are going to share our culture, it should be on our own terms, in our own way, and at our own events.

 

2. ALWAYS provide a history of stepping and strolling.

Before you teach them anything, give them a history lesson. They want to partake in our culture? They need to learn about and understand it first. Talk about when and how strolling and stepping became a part of BGLO culture. Explain how important it is to us. Talk about the rules and protocol of stepping and strolling, and how y’all don’t even let your LS (line sister) and LB (line brother) who is rhythmically challenged get in the line or the show. In all seriousness, all this information will help the non-BGLO people understand the value of these traditions. Even though they are being given an opportunity to engage in the experience, they will now have context and an appreciation and respect for the tradition, and are less likely to take the culture on for themselves outside of this specific occasion. A history lesson should also be given at your event before the competition or performances begin to ensure that the audience is also educated. Contrary to cultural appropriation, cultural appreciation includes learning about and listening to people of the culture. Providing history will help you achieve that.

 

3. Don’t give them EVERYTHING.

It is very possible for us to share the traditions of stepping and strolling without giving away every single aspect that is near and dear to our hearts. However, some of us struggle to see that fine line. Unfortunately, I have attended stroll and step competitions that included non-BGLO people and have been absolutely mortified by seeing them link up and death march, sing All of My Love, shimmy, and more.

Y’all. We don’t have to give them everything. These are our traditions. It’s our history. Only we can truly understand the meaning and importance of these movements and songs. We can teach others how to step and stroll without handing them everything that we had to work hard to have the privilege to do. Put them in a line, incorporate some popular dances, teach them some steps from your middle school step team, and call it a day. That’s all they need.

I know this is an ongoing discussion topic and I’m sure some of you already have your rebuttals; and that’s okay. Let’s have the conversation; it’s needed. I hope this provides a new perspective to some, challenges you to think, and helps us to better understand each other.

Aleidra Allen is a program coordinator for multicultural education at Saint Louis University. In this role, she serves as the advisor to Black Greek-letter organizations in St. Louis. To learn more about Aleidra’s work, visit aleidraallen.com.

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Four Things To Do Before Making It Known You’re Interested In Joining A Black Fraternity Or Sorority

[This piece was written by Alexzandria Chill | UNT Graduate. Marketing Freak. Frankie Bev Fanatic. Adamant Knowledge Seeker. Lady of ZPHIB [Pearl Clu5]. Founder of Blog: @DPTaughtMe]

It’s fair to say, we all know the nervousness of going on a job interview or the anxiety of showing up to a family function when we know only one person. Trying to join a fraternity or sorority is sort of a combination of both of those situations.

If you’re an aspirant, you always hear the same ol, same ol rules about how to express your interest to the organization you wish to join. Be discrete. Do your research. Watch your GPA. Come to the events. While all of these to-dos are important, there are other factors to take into consideration before pledging your loyalty to a particular fraternity or sorority. Trying to get in can be a little intimidating. BUT, intimidation is only a state of mind.

1) Before You Research, Soul Search

Before you get into any deep Greek research, take some time to “Soul Search”. Define what values are important to you. What makes you tick? What inspires you? What things drive you to be your best? Once you nail those down, do the research. See if those values align with the organization you’re seeking to join. When you’re clear in who you are and exactly what you stand for, it’s easier to see if the essence of the organization you wish to be apart of is parallel to your standards.

2) Be Present – In Places Other Than Greek Events

Being active in other student organizations not only helps refine your career experience, but it also shows us that you’re multifaceted. It means that you can serve as an asset to our organization through your unique talents, your connections, and your leadership capabilities. All these things help advance the cause and presence of an organization. Plus, it shows you’re not waiting on Greek life to make a name for you. You’re making a name for yourself!

3) Put Greeks on Probation

Just like in dating, everyone is not deserving of your time. Therefore, you need to be observant to see which organization is truly worthy of your time, effort and talents. Take note of different chapters. Look at their events, their member’s behavior, campus involvement, work ethic, even rewards. If it doesn’t align to what you expected, you can 1) look for an organization that does 2) find ways you can help improve and add value to the chapter.

4) Know Your Worth

As aspirants, Greeks automatically pose the question, ” What does this person bring the table?”. You need to ask the same thing. How will being involved in this organization enhance or improve your life? If you can’t think of anything that is worth while, maybe Greek life isn’t for you…and that’s okay. But if you do, meditate on the different things that make this organization uniquely beneficial to you and go for it!

If you are greek, feel free to share this on Facebook with people who may be interested. If you are not greek, be discreet and share this article with someone who is interested in joining via text, email or Facebook messenger.

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This Web Series Created By Black Fraternity Members For Grown A** Black Men Is What The Internet Needs

There is a new web-series on the block and it is made for and by grown a** Black men.

The show, entitled Black Brilliance 360 was launched by Charles Coleman Jr., civil rights attorney, CNN legal analyst and member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

“It is an original series of web-based conversations among black men about the things that matter to us most,” Charles told Watch The Yard. “These are conversations that deal with identity, lifestyle, self-care, relationships, power, and struggle.”

The series features a team of 9 different contributors, mixing and matching different combinations of contributors each episode to add a different feel and flavor to each discussion.

We at Watch The Yard are in love with this not just because the show features grown Black men in a way that you don’t see in popular media, but also because the contributors are members of the Black fraternity community. The contributor team features a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and along with the founder who is a Que, two additional members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

“Black Brilliance 360 is an intergenerational conversation among black men about black manhood. And it is presented with the style and flair that makes black men unique unto ourselves. There is nothing like it out right now. It’s hip, it’s humorous, it’s smart, it’s sexy. And it’s very, very black.”

Check out the teaser for the show below!

Share this on Facebook if you think these men deserve to go VIRAL!

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