Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What It Means to Be a Greek President by Julie Stomel

What it means to be a Greek President


In January 2013, when I first took over the role of President, I was excited to lead the chapter. I knew I could be the face of my organization and lead both chapter meetings and exec meetings. I could make hard decisions. I knew I could be a role model for younger women. I knew I would be able to do all this, and I knew I would be able to do it well.

But being a Greek president, as I soon learned, was much more than this. Being a Greek President means I was not only acting as myself, I was now the main face of my chapter. If I did something, it was a reflection on my chapter more-so than if I were any other member. I became the contact person on all issues. I became a source of knowledge, an email forwarder, a delegator, and a manager. I became responsible for 100 women. I became a spokesperson for 100 women. I became a therapist to 100 women. I also became the decision maker for 100 women. I was making decisions that would benefit the chapter as a whole while sometimes being largely detrimental to myself or my time. I made decisions that benefited the chapter that also caused my best friends to stop talking to me. There were days that I couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into and there were days that I was so stressed that I just wanted to quit.  There were also days that I was amazed with myself and my chapter. I am amazed with all the positive change that we make on campus, and that we are continuously striving to do more.

Some days I absolutely loved my chapter and other days I hated Greek life as a whole. I love the support I get from my sisterhood, the bonds we share, the traditions we have, what we stand for and how we strive to live up to that. I get so incredibly frustrated by the social scene and by recruitment. I know personally, sorority recruitment is the point in my life that my self-esteem was at its lowest. I absolutely hate that a community that I am so involved in can do that to a person, and that it did that to me. I will be the first to admit that the Greek system is far from perfect. But the leaders of the Greek community are working at every meeting on improving what it means to be Greek at Lehigh. I will also be the first to admit that the Greek community can be very supportive. When one of our members passed away, we received sympathy cards and flowers from every single Greek chapter. It was an outreach of support that I never would have imagined.

Being a Greek president has taught me how to truly live my values. I can recite pieces from our ritual and apply it to my life. The younger members are amazed when I do this, but its now so ingrained in me that it’s second nature. I can truly say that I live up to my founder’s expectations and that I live my ritual. I actually look forward to rituals and enjoyed leading them, because it are these ritual ceremonies that remind us why we joined and what we should strive for. I share that with the younger members and hope that they too will start to see that when they act to reach their fullest potential, they are being the best Greeks we can ask for.

Being a Greek president overall has been an amazing and transformative experience. While it, like Greek life in general, is not for everyone, it was definitely an experience that I am grateful for. I have made great friends in the other sorority presidents and I am proud of the progress we have made. I am proud of the change I have made in my own chapter and how new initiatives are now ingrained in chapter culture. Now as my term comes to an end it is bittersweet. In the past 10 months, I have learned so much about my sisters, Lehigh, Greek Life, myself, and how they all fit together.

So what does it mean to be a Greek president? It means knowing when you are right and when you are wrong. It means making your chapter the best it can be, while allowing your chapter members to show that to the community. It means communicating your strengths and weaknesses to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs and realizing how many resources there are available. It means truly living your values and ritual. It means endlessly giving your thoughts, your time, your mental capacity, and your self to your sisters.

Julie Stomel, 2014
Kappa Alpha Theta President