Photo courtesy of: Kristen KardasOHIO undergraduate student Derek Williams and Elon University graduate student Alonzo Cee presented “My Advisor is White, What Should I Do.”
Several Ohio University Fraternity and Sorority Life members were given the opportunity to present and act as experts in their fields during the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values (AFLV) Central Region/National Black Greek Leadership (NBGL) Conference in February in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The conference is the largest gathering of fraternity and sorority students in the country according to the Association’s website. Each year, more than 3,500 participants from around 225 campuses gather for an experience that hosts 200+ educational opportunities for students and professionals. The goal of the conference is to “create a change-enabling experience that accelerates progress in fraternity and sorority communities.”
Members from OHIO’s fraternity and sorority life community submitted program proposals to present at the conference and three were selected, including “When Banners Spark a Movement,” “Programming With A Purpose,” and “My Advisor is White, What Should I Do.”
Kristen Kardas, assistant director for fraternity and sorority life at OHIO, said being able to present at the conference helped students understand they had valuable information to share — to their audience at the event and to the university community when they returned.
Kardas, who co-presented with students and advisors for all three programs, has attended the annual event five times in the past but noted this one was much different because of OHIO’s role as presenters.
“I think what made this one different was the opportunity to showcase Ohio University in a really positive light, particularly because of the three programs that we presented, as well as how our students were really actively involved and engaged,” she explained. “They didn’t know what it felt like to be an expert in the room until they were suddenly the ones presenting and the ones that were being asked questions — they had answers and knew how to answer them well.”
“When Banners Spark a Movement”
The “When Banners Spark a Movement” program was presented by graduate advisors Emily Kunkle and Matt Rhyand. Kunkle said the idea for the program stemmed from a grassroots campaign on OHIO’s campus last fall with banners hanging from fraternity and sorority houses that supported sexual assault survivors and brought awareness to the issue.
Some of those banners read, “No does not mean convince me,” and “Stand with survivors.”
“To be able to see throughout the years going as a participant and now being able to present as an advisor and show students across the nation the work that we’re doing here at Ohio University, was a really cool opportunity,” Kunkle added.
“Programming With A Purpose”
Students Rosa Aviña, Aurora Santiago Flores and Shelby Gerwin presented “Programming With A Purpose,” which focused on universities holding successful programs for multicultural Greek organizations, according to Aviña.
Aviña explained she attended the conference last year and was disappointed in the lack of programming for multicultural Greek organizations. She remembers getting locked out of programs because they were too crowded, so she voiced her concerns to Kardas who encouraged her to create a program for this year’s conference.
During their presentation, the students talked about multicultural events that have been successful and ones that weren’t, as well as event funding and planning. An open discussion was held at the end of their program where the audience could ask questions about how to approach problems on their campus.
“I have learned so much from this conference and I feel like I’ve become more knowledgeable on the positions that I hold on campus,” Aviña added. “I was able to talk to my Latinx peers and learn about their experiences and how they inspired them to change things on their campuses. Having this experience gives me hope that someday Latinx students will also be able to overcome some of the problems we face on this campus.”
“My Advisor is White, What Should I Do”
OHIO undergraduate student Derek Williams and Elon University graduate student Alonzo Cee presented “My Advisor is White, What Should I Do.”
Williams said he attended the AFLV/NBGL conference last year and went a session similar to “My Advisor is White, What Should I Do,” which was presented by Cee. Williams took what he learned from that and applied it in this presentation which focused on being a multicultural student at a primarily white institution where a majority of advisors are white.
Through making new connections at the conference, Williams learned even Historically Black Colleges and Universities have white advisors, as well. He explained that since hearing from Cee last year, his relationship with Kardas grew and improved, and he was happy to give advice to their audience after their presentation.
“Being able to bridge the gap between the advisors and the undergraduates was very valuable for me because I felt like I was mending relationships,” he said.
Photo courtesy of: Kristen KardasStudents Rosa Aviña, Aurora Santiago Flores and Shelby Gerwin presented “Programming With A Purpose,” which focused on universities holding successful programs for multicultural Greek organizations, according to Aviña.