Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Chapter's Perspective: Risk Management

An interview with Kappa Alpha Theta's President, Kelsey Duffy, and Risk Management Chair, Jessie Jacobson. The chapter won the Panhellenic Council Risk Management Award at the 2009-2010 Greek Gala.

How does Kappa Alpha Theta encourage dialogue related to risk-management within the chapter? How do you think members and the chapter have benefited from these initiatives?
At each chapter meeting, the risk manager presents a module to the chapter related to a risk management issue. Some topics include: how to recognize depression, how to wrap a sprained ankle, etc. We also implemented longer modules presented each year on FIPG policies, NPC regulations and other risk management issues. We had one module that was facilitated by our advisors, as they put together a series of real-life insurance cases that occurred to fraternities. In groups we discussed what we thought was the result. Each group presented their case to the chapter and then the advisors gave us the real results. This helped all of our members to understand that risk management is not just alcohol related, but in many different aspects of our lives. I think our members have a much better understanding of what we do to prevent risk as well as what constitutes risk. Since implementing these initiatives, we have seen a change in our members and their personal responsibilities.

We have also implemented a risk management question/suggestion box for sisters to ask any question relating to risk management while staying anonymous. We also hand out index cards with the risk management team’s phone numbers so that in the event of a risk management issue, sisters can call us to assist. The names are in the “chain of command,” so sisters know who to contact first in case of an emergency. We also have a nine-member risk management team and at the beginning of each year with new members we stand and introduce our role at a chapter meeting.

What educational programming does Kappa Alpha Theta provide on risk management and/or on the dangers of alcohol misuse to its' members that you think is unique?
New members are required to meet weekly with the VP of Education to learn about the sorority, one of the topics being Theta’s risk management policies. Kappa Alpha Theta also requires all new members to complete GreekLife Edu, which covers many Greek issues including many related to risk management. Another program Theta has launched is the Sisters Supporting Sisters program; we have joined with Talk One-to-One, which is a 24 hour hotline that is available to all members of Theta. It is geared towards depression, anxiety, stress and other issues facing many college women. It is completely anonymous and can be used if you are feeling depressed as well as by someone in search of information about how to work with and help a friend who might be having a difficult time.

What proactive steps does Kappa Alpha Theta take to reduce risk and the likelihood of a tragedy?
The risk management team meets prior to every event to address possible risk management issues specific to each event we are planning. We assign party monitors as well, as they are responsible for watching out for other sisters and assuring that everyone is safe. After each event, we meet to discuss what went well and what we should change in the future. In addition, we are required to submit a pre-event checklist to Theta advisors two weeks prior to each event which serves the dual purpose of forcing the risk management team to systematically plan events in an organized fashion and assuring that we are engaging in the best risk management practices. This process is unique and effective due to our multiple levels of advisors. For an event to be approved it must go through three different advisors each who sign off. By having this, every detail is looked at and if anything is missed by one it is picked up by another. It is Theta’s way of ensuring that the undergraduates are not just saying they are following procedure, but that we actually are. It is an extra layer of someone asking “what if” questions and helping us to really manage our events. We also continually educate our members as to who to contact if a tragedy was to occur and how to remain calm if the situation arose.

What does Kappa Alpha Theta do to hold members accountable for their poor behaviors related to alcohol misuse?
Members who engage in poor behaviors related to alcohol misuse can be called in to speak with the Member Development Committee (MDC), a panel of sisters consisting of one member of each member class, the VP of Development, and the President. An advisor is also on call or present for MDC meetings. MDC is completely confidential and assesses each situation on a case-by-case basis. The way in which sisters are asked to hold themselves accountable varies depending on what the instance that occurred was. We also look to each sister to hold everyone accountable. We allow people to report problems to MDC without the fear of being “found out,” as well as encourage the use of the resources available to us as members of Kappa Alpha Theta.
Any other comments as it relates to Kappa Alpha Theta's risk-management initiatives?
We conduct walk-throughs of the facility on a monthly basis to assure the house is substance free and that there are no other risk management issues, fire alarms, broken windows etc.