College

Courage, Grace and Strength Under the Most Insurmountable Odds

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Trigger Warning: This post, and the article shared, feature a rape victim’s frank and explicit statement to the man who raped her.  Please share with women and men, responsibly.

I have written about serving as an adviser to a college sorority for many years.  The experience forever changed me as a woman.

One of the most difficult subjects I encountered was how to frame the conversations around sex and consent.  This was before colleges and universities recognized rape, sexual assaults, sexual batteries and every point on that continuum as a violation of a student’s rights, according to the school’s own policies.

How I wish websites like Consent Is Everything had existed to give me tools on how to broach this delicate subject.  How I wish I had known what constituted consent when I was a college student. I would have recognized that I too was a victim of acquaintance rape.   And I would have known that it is far more common than we can imagine.

But, what happens when a brave young woman comes forward to share how she was unimaginably violated by a “star athlete?”  Why does she have to justify her actions, when he was the one who committed rape upon her?  Why is she the one whose morals and character are called into question?   And, how does she react when faced with the reality that his “status” may have ensured preferential treatment by the justice system?

What happens is this brilliantly heartbreaking victim’s statement, as shared by Buzzfeed’s news reporter, Katie Baker Here’s The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read To Her Attacker.

To the woman who stood strong, surrounded by people who loved and supported her, I say – your mission in life is ahead of you.  Each time you speak truth to power, you are helping another person.

To Brock Allen Turner, I say – may Karma find you. Repeatedly. For the rest of your miserable life, you rapist.

Consequences of Poor Choices in College

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Followers of this blog, know I am a PASSIONATE supporter of sorority life for college women.  In fact, one of my favorite topics to discuss with parents of college-aged women is membership in Greek Letter Organizations and all its benefits.  I am excited whenever a young woman finds her sorority home away from home and creates lifelong friendship.   I enjoy submitting recruitment information forms (RIFs) for potential new members as they start their sorority journey.  And, I love writing letters of recommendation for graduate school and new jobs for women I watched grow though into themselves through sorority life.

My personal college experience was enriched the day I accepted my Bid in 1989.   I joined a group of women who accepted me as I was, but also pushed me to be the best version of myself.  Since I attended a large commuter University, Greek Life was my touchstone with extracurricular activities that enhanced my years at college.   There were socials, study parties, basketball games and all-night float-building marathons, and yes, keggers, where I learned more about myself and my fellow Sisters.

Together we supported each other through the good and bad times.   We were our Sisters’ keepers and responsible not only for following the rules and regulations of the organization and the University, but ensuring that our Sisters did as well.   The rules were in place to make sure we had a complete academic, leadership, philanthropic, fun, balanced and safe sorority program.  We knew that one bad apple could certainly spoil the bunch, and were cognizant of the greater level of scrutiny placed on sorority women by society – both by folks who wanted us to succeed and those who expected us to fail and take on the worst characteristics of the stereotypical “sorority girl gone wrong.”

fat drunk and stupid ecardToday, the actions of a few bad apples culminated in harsh consequences for the larger group, as the Chi Omega Chapter at the University of Pennsylvania was closed.   The investigation of this Chapter was prompted by a series of poor decisions, that were exposed by a deeply offensive event. I was disappointed in these women, not only as their Sister, but as a Latina and a woman.   As a former volunteer Sorority Adviser, I can attest to the fact that the collegiate leaders of this group were provided with close, one-on-one mentoring by older Alumnae members who were selected for their professional expertise and trained in how to supervise the activities of a college sorority.  These Alumnae very likely advised (and scolded) them repeatedly about appropriate party topics among other teachable moments in the management of risk for a group of collegiate women.  This advice was accompanied by sanctions, repercussions and intense education by the National organization, along with a timeline for successful completion of the sanctions and re-education.    It was the college women’s decision to follow sage advice, but, as a self-governing groups of adults, they did not have to.

Unfortunately, they chose the worst possible outcome and started the chain reaction that led the National organization to close the Chapter.  While I was sadden by the news, I fully supported the difficult decision made by the Governing Council (national executive officers).   National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) groups have no tolerance for behavior that demeans, ridicules, or hurts other people and these have been articulated in the Unanimous Agreements, as well as the Fraternity’s Bylaws and Constitution. The governance documents are how we hold ourselves, and each other, accountable.  Our goal is to uphold our ideals as we continually prepare women for life after college.  In short , we strive to build women up and it is not by accident that so many female leaders are members of NPC groups.   We have been doing it for over a hundred years, successfully, because we maintain the highest standards.

My sincerest wish for the women who lost their Chapter, by their own actions, is that they learned the lessons.  My heart breaks for those women who tried, in vain, to steer the group, back to a place of honor and class,  because I know they did not deserve to lose their Chapter.  However, I am a proud sorority woman because we police ourselves.  It is these events that remind me why I pledged to honor my Fraternity’s creed and support fellow Sisters.   Sisterhood is for a lifetime, not just for the four years of college.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 29

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Black Friday violators may be found in Dante's 4th through 9th levels of Hell.
Black Friday violators may be found in Dante’s 4th through 9th levels of Hell.

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”  ~ Randy Pausch

I am thankful to have worked in retail while in college.  I enjoyed my jobs and have pleasant memories of flexible hours, great customers and fun co-workers.  With one glaring exception – Black Friday.  I was left so traumatized by the experience, over 25 years ago, that I never shop on Black Friday, and only patronize small, locally-owned or socially-conscious, green businesses.

Black Friday traditionally marked the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.  It was the period of the year where retailers would operate “in the black,” or at a profit, versus than “in the red,” or at a loss.  For folks employed by retail establishments, it simply meant earning more money in a shorter amount of time.

Sadly,  Black Friday has become synonymous with greed.  And violence.

I urge you to consider whether or not those items are dire necessities worth dying for today.  Or ever.

In the meantime, enjoy the dulcet, acapella tones of Sweet Honey in the Rock’s  “Greed.”

30 Days of Thanks – Day 23

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USF-logoI am grateful to have graduated from the University of South Florida, over 20 years ago. It was a wonderful experience learning how to live with diverse people.  There was no football team when I was student, so my experience attending college football was as an alumnus.  My husband and I have had season football tickets for several years and it is one of our favorite date night activities.

Self-Love is NOT a College Course

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Raise your hands, if you’re sure!

Today I stumbled upon this little gem Elon University to Sponsor “Self-Pleasure” Course.   The blogger proceeded to describe the course schedule that included toy demonstrations and communication techniques.  Sadly, its initial session was only open to 20 students.

What could possibly go wrong with a college course about personal sexuality?   Nothing, if the course had been sanctioned by the University.  Apparently, students at Elon may create seminars and workshops on topics of their choosing.  Many colleges offer similar opportunities through their student organizations, on and off-campus health service agencies, lecture series and similar venues.

Elon did not actually offer “Masturbation: 101,” and the blogger failed to contact University officials to verify his facts.  In fact, the very first comments on his posts were by, none other than the Vice President for University Communications.   Oops.

Would you take a course in “Self-Pleasure” for college credit?  Post away, let’s talk.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 12

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cutes2towlsEven though I am no longer a sorority adviser, I still receive requests for letters of reference from the women I advised over 12 years.  It makes me happy to be a small part of their future, having seen them start to grow into their adult selves in college.  I was blessed to know them as their adviser, and continue to be blessed by having them as alumnae friends.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 7

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Founded in 1902, the Indianapolis-based National Panhellenic Conference Inc. is one of the oldest and largest membership organizations for women representing 26 member women’s fraternity and sorority groups.

Today I give thanks for the women I have met in my sorority, and other sororities.  We created a unique bond during our college years and it was the first group I truly belonged in without compromising any part of my personality.  Completely different from my high school experience, where I felt like I had to downplay one aspect of my personality, depending on the group I was around – the dancer side, the geek side, the heavy metal chick side, etc.  It was refreshing to fully integrate all the pieces into one.

This list will put a smile on all the Alumnae out there.  Some do not apply to those of us who are a little “older,” but I still buy jewelry with my sorority’s symbol on it and know these women will always have my back.  Enjoy 35 Signs You Miss Your Sorority, Snaps!