In Greek life, we are fervent believers of reproach. According to Dictionary.com, reproach is defined as the following:
– (v): to find fault with; blame; to be a cause of blame or discredit to
– (n): disgrace, discredit, or blame incurred
Often times when we see or hear about members of our organizations behaving in a manner we don’t agree with, we are pressed to “let them know” how we feel. We have insight on what they should have done. We have anecdotes for days about what we did back in the day. We admonish our members on social media, bash them in group forums and offer our two cents to anyone who will listen.
In these instances, destructive criticism often overrides constructive criticism. This leaves the problem still unsolved and lost learning opportunities for the misguided Greeks involved. In the non-Greek world, this is considered “being messy”. Rather than creating a habit of chastisement , we should either 1) have present Greeks help correct the situation at hand during the occurrence or 2) offer practical advice and tough love after the fact.
According to Dictionary.com, the word approach is defined as followed:
– to come near to in quality, character, time or condition
– to present, offer, or make a proposal or request to
– to make advances to
In order to do make effective change, we must re-approach the act of reproach. In other words, we must make advances towards a more proficient and proactive way of public reproach towards our fellow greeks. Here are 4 ways we can do that:
1) Develop the Practice of Peer Mentorship
- Think about one peer in your set of friends that inspires you; he/she pushes you to do better. Sometimes we have friends who serve as mentors and we don’t even know it. Seeing as how we are in Greek organizations, there’s a good chance that many of our chapter members are doing great things. Use that as your fuel to encourage yourself (and others) to maintain an identity of integrity. Growing together as men and women in Greek life comes with its own distinct challenges. Use your experiences to help someone else to better themselves. Whether it is on a mental, physical, or spiritual level, taking the “it takes a village” approach helps you keep yourself focused and keeps your chapter members on the same page.
2) Hold Each Other Accountable at ALL Times
- Keep the mission of your Fraternity or Sorority in the forefront of what you do, especially when you are wearing your letters. Give a general reminder when you’re about to go out. Have an understanding that if someone gets out of line, they will be checked. If you feel something might get out of hand (if it doesn’t put you or anyone else in danger) stop the situation before it escalates. Don’t be afraid to be the mom or dad of the group. That “Say bruh/ C’mon sis” at the end of the day, you’re keeping your family out of trouble and help you save face from embarrassment.
3) Be Quick to Understand, Refrain from Judgement
- The last thing someone wants to hear after doing something they know they shouldn’t have done, is nagging. Yeah they should have known better. Yeah, they’re could have been a better way of handling a situation. But they didn’t do it. They just didn’t. Everyone’s missteps are going to be different. Some consequences are going to be more hefty than others. It is during this time, those individuals will need someone to understanding. Now, don’t get being understanding confused with being an advocate of those individuals actions. It is merely saying, you know people have fugg ups. You are there to acknowledge the mistake. Judgement is not needed. You’re not perfect. Be a friend.
4) Offer Tough Love and Practical Advice
- Be there to offer tough love. Refrain from overly-harsh, judgemental tones. Let them know what they did was wrong, but it is not the end all, be all of their life. Let them know what consequences they can anticipate. But also, offer gems of wisdom. Practical advice for similar situations in the future are more helpful than chastisement. If you know something is about to get out, try to warn that person. Let them know what could go down. Help them prepare for what’s to come. Being understanding may help that individual become more receptive to what you have to say. This helps reduce future run-ins with trouble and provides more opportunities for growth, maturity and the advancement in the organization as a whole.