A cell phone ring began speaker David Stollman's challenge to Keene State College Greek Life organizations to remember their values and standards, and break the stereotypes.
"You earn your letters when you're allowed to wear them … by living up to what they mean," said Stollman to at least 84 Greek Life members gathered in the Mountain View Room of the Young Student Center Monday night.
As Stollman presented his interactive lecture, "Buy In or Get Out," excitement and energy became as bright as the colored T-shirts identifying each organization in attendance for the Greek Week event.
"He talked to a lot of people's hearts and made a lot of people cry," said senior Caitlin Ball, a member of Phi Sigma Sigma.
Stollman, who is with Campus Speak, stated the importance of organizations staying true to leading and serving.
One part of leading meant leading in the classroom, while another meant serving, he said.
"This is our true tradition. This is what our organizations are about. This is what all Greeks are about," he said. "We all swear ourselves to the same basic values."
He challenged those who didn't want to adhere to an organization's true traditions to leave it.
"For those of you who don't want to, I hope you leave," he said.
According to Stollman, an alumnus of Sigma Phi Epsilon, Greeks understood the difference between brotherhood and friendship, and sisterhood and friendship.
"Friends say what we want to hear. Sisters, brothers say things you need to here," he said.
Stollman also addressed the stereotypes associated with Greek Life.
"The rest of the world sees your letters and they don't know they are different, and they don't care," he said regarding organizations that promote the stereotype. He added the world thought the stereotype was fine because Greek organizations tolerated it.
"Are we perpetuating or breaking the stereotypes?" he asked repeatedly throughout his speech.
Besides looking at how Greeks were viewed by others, Stollman said members needed "to start thinking about the things [they] were doing."
"The more we perpetuate [the stereotype] the more problems we have," he said.
Hazing is one of those stereotype supports.Anyone who believed in hazing never understood that concept to begin with, said Stollman.
"Chapters that haze the most don't understand it doesn't work," he said. Stollman, advisor to the Alpha Sigma Tau sorority at New York University, also relied on his experiences to enforce what he was saying.
"Him having a personal experience made his speech that more eye opening," said Greek Life Assistant Cory Anderson.
According to Anderson, a member of the Sigma Lambda Chi fraternity, several KSC Greek leaders went to Pittsburg, Penn. for the Northeast Greek Leadership Association conference, and heard Stollman speak along with many others. They then asked him to attend Greek Week and give his speech, said Anderson.
"His speech is a good reminder of why we originally joined our respective organizations and to awaken members of the organization that have not realized their responsibilities," he said in an e-mail following the event.
"It was just as good the second time around," said senior Teddy Byrne, vice president of the Interfraternity Council and a member of Delta Nu Psi.
"He makes your want to improve your organization internally and turn it around."
Stollman ended his presentation with five things he wanted Greek organizations to do as a way to reach their potential.
- Those objectives included
- watching out for other members interests,
- showing an organization's true values when recruiting,
- holding members accountable for their actions,
- seeking opportunities to break stereotypes,
- and challenging members not meeting the organization's standards and values.