Summer-The warmest season of the year, in the northern hemisphere from June to August. What student doesn’t love this season? It’s when the rigors
of classwork slow down. It’s that time of year where you don’t have to peel off multiple layers as soon as you walk into a building. Finally, after months, you are able to escape the rattling indoor heat to indulge in the sights and smells of the great outdoors. Most students see this as a time to kick back and do, literally, nothing. Why not instead, take advantage of the opportunities available to you during this break?
Here are some tips to help make the most of your summer.
Get a job/internship
Are your dues owed by the time everyone gets back for fall semester? Planning on a spring break trip next year? What about formal? These things all require a good amount of money, but if you start working and saving over summer, it’ll be much easier to manage. The scope of jobs and internships available for college students is vast, but they all can help you plan for a great year, while at the same time provide you with real world work experience. The great part about this is that you are choosing it. If you get an offer for an internship that you aren’t excited about, look around for another opportunity. Summer offers something we normally don’t have an excess of: time. Regardless of the path you take with a summer job or internship, the experience could provide opportunity for full-time employment after you graduate. At a minimum, you’ll meet new people and expand your network.
Take a class
A lot of majors have that one required class that nearly everyone seems to struggle with (organic chem. FTW). Taking it during the summer is a great chance to earn a better grade. You have the opportunity to take one class at a time and won’t have other coursework to distract you. Yes, having class during the summer is not ideal having fun, however ask yourself: Do I really want to take this class along with a full course load? Equally, it could also be a chance to take a class that interests you, but you haven’t been able to fit into your regular course load. Just because you’re a molecular biology major doesn’t mean you should bar yourself from taking a stab at that sculpture or piano class. Don’t be scared to try something new.
Establish a workout routine
Summer is a great time to start a workout schedule. Due to the nice weather gyms often offer great deals during the summer to attract more customers (I used to pay $60 for 3 months during the summer with free parking at my school’s rec center). With the warmer weather you can create a mixture of inside and outside exercise routines to keep you invigorated. Developing an effective workout schedule in the summer gives you time to build a habit and perfect it towards your needs. By the time fall semester starts up, it will be that much easier to continue and give you an outlet whenever a break from classes and studying are needed.
Make time for yourself
Whether it is reading a book on the sunny veranda or hitting the links for a round of 18, making time for your own enjoyment is essential. Summer is a great time to decompress from all the hours of studying from the past school year. It also gives you time to hang out with friends and family. Enjoy this beautiful season before reality hits, once again.
Summer never seems to be long enough (especially up in the north). Instead of spending your entire summer on a couch do something to help better yourself. Don’t worry, Netflix will still be there once the cold weather hits again.
Nick Hoke, Field Executive
Addiction doesn’t always start in a back alley. Addiction often starts in the medicine cabinet of your own home. Addiction is an indiscriminate, chronic disease that can dismantle whole communities given the chance. You can come from a suburban bubble, rural town, culturally diverse neighborhood, single parent household, all the privilege in the world, or none; addiction knows no bounds.
This topic has been on my mind lately after realizing drug overdoses now take more lives every year than traffic accidents. I have been struggling with how to write a compelling post on a topic I have no direct experience with. I do not personally suffer from drug addiction and to be completely honest, I couldn’t recall anyone in my immediate circle who is. That’s the weird thing about addiction though, it hides in plain sight. Your parents, siblings, neighbors, fraternity brothers, classmates, colleagues, and friends could all be struggling to live with their addiction and you would never know it by looking at them. This made the gears in my brain begin to rotate.
I’ve heard it said before that college is a dangerous place. Dangerous because it is the place you go where your beliefs are tested, your opinions are scrutinized, and any preconceived notion about how other people live is often shattered. You meet people from higher and lower socio-economic standing, different races, different religions and, different expectations of what college is supposed to be.
I met a student named Bob once. I was in a position to help Bob get into college. He wasn’t a traditional aged prospective student, but somehow Bob’s application ended up on my desk. When we sat down to talk face to face I could tell there was something he was struggling with but from a professional standpoint, I was not the person he needed to speak with. Then the topic of housing came up. Bob opened up, explaining he was recently released from a substance abuse recovery center and was unsure of the best housing option for him.
People often ask what motivates me and my answer is consistent; I want to feel like I’m helpful.
In this moment, I knew Bob needed my help. He didn’t need my help to combat his addictions (I am severely underqualified to help in that regard) but what I could do was be empathetic and point him in the right direction. At this point in his recovery he was ready to tackle college again. I never asked Bob about his past or his recovery but I knew what was ahead of him. An often precarious place, college can harbor temptations and resources an addict would need to relapse. College is an easy place to experience a setback. College is a dangerous place.
After a few meetings with Bob over the course of a summer, we worked together to get his paperwork in line so he could begin course work in the fall. Once he was enrolled, our paths did not cross again for a number of years. My purpose in Bob’s life was served and I was able to yield whatever power I had to get him started in the right direction. Knowing my own college experience and knowing the landscape of universities today, I would often think about what he was up to. Was he still abstaining from whatever he was recovering from? Did he give in? Did he find a group? Is he even enrolled? All of the thoughts would come in random bursts, but as we all know, life comes at you pretty fast. In the interim from our last encounter Bob was not part of my thought process any longer. Other students with other challenges came through my door and I did my job to help them navigate their way to begin a college career. It wasn’t until an all staff meeting, years later, did Bob reappear in my life.
Bob’s name was on the agenda in the spot we normally reserve for campus professionals. They would come to tell us about new initiatives their department had coming up or to ask for our assistance during an all campus event. When I walked into the meeting, Bob was in the front of the room in a suit and tie (a far cry from his camo shorts, backwards hat and flip flops I was accustomed to seeing him in). Bob was ready and waiting to present on a Collegiate Recovery Program he and a few other students in recovery were launching on our campus.
He lived his life, as I then found out, actively abusing mind altering substances for 10 years before he sought treatment. I sat and listed to an impassioned man discuss the systemic biases the general public and some universities hold in regards to recovering students. He outlined their plan to help students in recovery feel wanted on a large campus and engage them in ways that would not interfere with their long-term recovery. Their group had the backing from campus administration and were in the talks of acquiring a wing of a residence hall specifically for recovering students. His purpose for coming to our meeting was to get the word out. He knew my department was considered the front porch to the university. Having this knowledge in our back pockets could lead other students to them and could possibly move students closer to recovery.
As he spoke I wondered if he remembered who I was. There had to have been at least twenty more impactful people in his life since we had met. I could point out a few when he was discussing who he had partnered with on campus. After taking questions he addressed the group but looked in my direction and said “thank you”. As Bob was walked out he headed in my direction and I stood up, really unsure of what I was going to say but before the words came out of my mouth, his intentions were clear:
“I remember you. I wouldn’t be here if you didn’t help. Thank you for believing in me.”
I know my small role in his life is not what kept him in long-term recovery but his acknowledgement is what keeps me grounded in the work I do. The small things I did to help a student get into college had become one of the turning points in his life. I was part of his long-term recovery. The magnitude of his appreciation was strongly felt by me and in that moment I knew what I did mattered. What we do as educators, administrators, friends, colleagues, brothers, and human beings matter.
Bob graduated last weekend with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. He did this while simultaneously winning national awards for his advocacy, being selected as one of the top 40 student leaders on his campus, becoming a certified Peer Recovery Specialist, and joining a fraternity.
This fall, Bob is on his way to an Ivy League school to work on a Master’s Degree in Social Work to continue in his pursuit to be an advocate for those like him, in long-term recovery.
Collegiate Recovery Programs are all across North America with many being on our host campuses. The mission of CRP is to meet the needs of this growing population of recovering young adults as they pursue their educations. Several colleges and universities have also developed collegiate recovery communities to help young adults in recovery maintain their abstinence while in school. The primary goal of these communities is to provide a safe haven for young adult students who are struggling to maintain their hard-won abstinence while surrounded by resources to enable their addictions.
For a full list of universities click here.
Need help with substance abuse? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.
After traveling across the country and visiting with numerous chapters who differ in every way imaginable, I couldn’t help but notice at least one similarity across the board: every Vice President of Health and Safety (VPHS) had slightly different definitions of what their role was in the chapter. Some would say, “I’m the bro other bros can come to with problems” while others would express “I’m the dude who puts on events and encourages less partying.”
While all have some semblance of truth at their core, they all miss the mark on the original intent of the position and how it has evolved to address the needs of the ever-changing Greek landscape. It is imperative every VPHS fully understands why Sacred Purpose came to be, their role in the chapter, as well as how to bring our Sacred Purpose to a community wide level, and beyond.
If you google “fraternities” your search results would be riddled with informational links and unfortunately the majority of the info you see would be negative content. Articles sometime range from alcohol abuse statistics among fraternity groups, to hazing allegations, and even the tragic death of undergraduate members. The idea these stories have become a normal narrative in Greek life is the very reason Sacred Purpose came to fruition. The word “sacred” is used intentionally and is not to be taken lightly. Our Founders took an oath to protect and support one another, with the understanding that today’s members would continue their legacy.
Caring for others is the highest expression of courage and true friendship. The mission of Sacred Purpose is simple: Develop a deeper level of mutual caring for one another, in turn, strengthening the brotherhood and the community as a whole.
The VPHS is the embodiment of Sacred Purpose and their role is twofold. He should be a resource to the members for emotional, physical and relational strength, while at the same time educating the chapter to do the same. He should cultivate working relationships with campus and community health and safety professionals who can support the mission.
The VHPS should be on a first name basis with offices that promote health and safety initiatives on their campus. Counseling centers, university health centers, campus Title IX coordinators, police and fire departments are all resources that should be utilized to maximize the effectiveness of this position and our Sacred Purpose. These trained professionals can assist in our efforts to host community wide events to shed light on tough topics like sexual assault prevention, mental/physical health, or life safety best practices.
The Sacred Purpose movement is unique to Theta Chi and is at the forefront of making health and safety a priority among Greeks. The VPHS serves an invaluable role which needs to be accepted with passion, responsibility, and accountability. Our Sacred Purpose is gaining traction and starting to be recognized by friends and allies in the general population. Critical conversations are being had in our chapter houses and on campuses across North America, and the VHPS is keeping the dialogue going. It is time to put an end to the negative perception fraternities have in the public eye and start a productive conversation on how Greek life can make a positive impact on its members and campuses as a whole.
We cannot simply say we are “…ennobled by a high and sacred purpose…” We have to live it.
Taylor Dahlem, Field Executive