by Matt Mattson
“The every day real life experience of a sorority leader… the reality… is nothing like what you see in the media,” she said with a mix of exhaustion and optimism. “My reality is less crazy party and far more intense and endless meetings. The best image I can offer about what it means to be a sorority leader is me running across campus, carrying my heels, my bag, my workout gear, and my books, hustling and sweating to get to whatever important meeting I have next. That’s what real life sorority looks like.”
I remember sitting in a focus group on a campus a year or two ago, listening to chapter presidents try to describe to me what the reality of fraternity/sorority leadership looked like. That anecdote above sticks out to me so clearly. I was on this campus to help their community find better way to tell a better story to better people so they could build better organizations. I remember the exasperation on their faces caused by the perception other people had of their organizations that meant so much to them. I remember them telling me about how much they “hustled” as chapter and council leaders. I remember feeling such a deep feeling of respect for those students.
I respect hustle. Anywhere I see it. I respect it among our staff who take tech support phone calls late into the night and who travel countless miles away from their friends and families because they believe in what we do so much.
I respect the hustle among my industry colleagues who do more than talk and post on social media, but are out there trying new things, researching what they believe is important, and loving sorority women and fraternity men unconditionally.
I respect the hustle of culturally-based council and chapter leaders who often feel like the “also-rans” of their communities, who don’t have people around them who even understand the point of their organizations, and who churn and fight and work despite it all.
I respect the hustle of IFC fraternity leaders who own their role in a problematic culture and keep showing up anyway (despite being pointed at and blamed) because they want to make things better.
I respect the hustle of the local organization leaders who feel like orphans and often only have the support (or even recognition) of a couple campus professionals who care.
I respect the hustle of the NPHC leaders who see beyond the social capital benefits of membership, and who understand and act upon the social impact potential that is birthed by their organizing, committing, and hard work.
There’s a sorority president who got up early this morning to check in on a sister who has a big exam this week.
There’s a fraternity brother who is texting a fellow member to check in on his privately shared emotional frailness.
There’s a sorority woman who is arranging a meeting to right a wrong on campus.
There’s a fraternity man who is working up the courage to confront a brother he knows is not representing what they both promised when they joined.
There’s a sorority woman who is making a phone call to another Greek leader to ask them to lunch, to try to build a bridge, to try to improve campus culture.
There’s a chapter leader who is torn up inside because they know another member is hurting, is sick, or is in danger, and they don’t know what to do.
There’s a council leader who is over-involved, over-committed, over-stretched, and overwhelmed, but is saying “yes” (again) anyway.
I respect the hustle. Fraternity and sorority leaders who want to build better, safer, healthier, and stronger chapters are the ones hustling after better, safer, healthier, and stronger new members. They’re the ones making the phone calls, sending the text messages, doing the one-on-one meetings, arranging the service events, caring for the new members, and giving the life changing gift of Greek Life to people who deserve it.
This is one of the biggest reasons I do this work. I want more students to experience the learning, the growth, and the transformation that fraternity/sorority offers. I remember the hustle as an undergraduate. I freaking loved it. It was the hustle of being a chapter leader that gave me purpose. It was the hustle that prepared me to be a successful professional. It was the hustle that brought out my potential.
I respect the hustle.