July 29, 2010

Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Report

Aliza Fishbein (Zeta Omicron-Johns Hopkins)
Alpha Phi Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act Representative

I went as Alpha Phi International's only collegiate representative for the second consecutive year to the National Interfraternal Council and National Panhellenic Council lobbying conference. Over the last several years the National Interfraternal Caucus along with the NIC's Political Action Committee have tried to pass a bill (S.187, HR1547) called the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act. Attending the conference requires several things, including research about housing on my campus, passing a resolution in the Student Government Association, and acquiring the signature of my university president on a letter to the Members of Congress who have jurisdiction over my university. About eighty collegians and several hundred alumni gathered in Washington D.C. for four days to discuss the bill and its importance and get trained in lobbying technique.

The Collegiate Housing Infrastructure Act is a really critical bill for Greeks and other not-for-profit student organizations (including Neuman, Hillel, Co-Op housing) right now. As the status quo stands there is a disparity in the way tax law is written for not-for-profit (501c(3)) organizations.If one were to donate tax deductable dollars to a university or college the institution could use those dollars for any purpose, including building dormitories. That same donation to a not-for-profit student housing organization like a fraternity or sorority could not be used for building infrastructure.

This is particularly significant because this form of housing is important to both college and students. With enrollment on the rise colleges are finding themselves less capable of housing students and are looking to private housing sources for overflow (much like at JHU). As the largest student landlord (after universities), housing 250,000 students each year in 44,000 housing units across the country, Greek houses provide that alternative housing option. As tuition rises and students struggle to find affordable housing, they look to Greek housing which is the cheapest option across the board.

The ability to provide safe housing to our students is a top priority to Greek organization, however, they are unable to raise the funds needed to upgrade their houses. Currently only 39% of Greek houses have fire sprinkler systems and the average cost to retrofit a house with fire suppression equipment is $48,000 and can be up to $250,000. Since 2000 there have been 140 student housing fire deaths and by April there had already been 5 last semester. Fire related deaths is the leading cause of death for college and university students - there has never been a student fatality from fire in a house with a sprinkler system installed.

The Collegiate Housing Infrastructure Act is important for the eleven fraternity houses at Johns Hopkins as well as Alpha Phi chapters across North America. Currently there are a few known fraternity houses at Johns Hopkins with sprinklers but none of them are known to be functioning. Also, CHIA would make it possible for Housing Corporation Boards (run through the National/International fraternity or sorority) could make other safety upgrades, including leaking ceilings, insecure staircases, cleaning of open wires, and the additions of sleeping quarters.

On Capitol Hill we partnered with members of Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Order and soon became close friends with them and others across the Greek community. We met with staff and Congressional Members during our eleven meetings in only a matter of hours. One of those Members is the only Alpha Phi in Congress, Lynn Woolsey, a representative from Northern California (her district includes half of the Golden Gate Bridge!). She credited our visit for her endorsement of the bill in a speech she made at the Political Action Committee dinner. Walking the halls of the U.S. Capitol with Lory was an incredible experience, having a real hand in housing policy. I also have gained a real sense of the deep influence Greek life has on our lives and the true meaning of lifetime membership. Witnessing fraternity brothers ranging in age gather together to serenade the sorority women with their fraternity song was only one means of expressing fraternal ties. True friendships were forged and I am still in touch with the many advisors and collegians I met at the NIC/NPC Conference. What a weekend!

Recently, we reached a majority in the House (118 signatures)! It was a rewarding experience and is still ongoing as I continue to followup with Congressional offices.

July 21, 2010

Alumnae Perspective

Kimberly Riha (Iowa-Delta Epsilon)


Recently I met a woman that currently goes to The University of Iowa and is a member of a different sorority on campus. I was excited to share our experiences and get to know some more about her chapter, but I quickly found that she had a much different experience than I did. She said that she has a great time with the other women in her chapter and she really enjoys it, but she also told me that she isn’t involved and knows next to nothing about the other chapters on campus.

When I joined Alpha Phi I was so excited to learn everything I could about my chapter. I loved finding out about the rich history, the philanthropy and the values of the women who came before me. As time passed and I became more involved in my chapter, I got to know more about the rest of the Panhellenic community on campus. When I became a recruitment guide I got a crash course on the background of all 14 chapters, and I found it so interesting to learn about the similarities and differences. Meeting this woman who didn’t even know where Alpha Phi was located on campus reminded me that a lot of women don’t get as involved in their sorority as I did with Alpha Phi.

This chance meeting made me proud to be part of a group of women that has its own values and is also compassionate and understanding of the values of others. Alpha Phi teaches women of her own history, and also instills the desire to learn about others and work together as a community—empowering women to be the very best version of themselves. I can only hope that other sororities try to strengthen their members the way Alpha Phi has strengthened me.

July 16, 2010

Alumnae Perspective

By: Lori Losee (Beta Rho/Washington State University)

July 1, 2010 marked the beginning of another fiscal year for Alpha Phi, which means it’s time to show your ongoing support and pride in Alpha Phi by paying your international dues.

Are you wondering what your dues help fund? By paying your International Alumnae Dues, including your Founders' Day Pennies (a penny for every year Alpha Phi has been in existence), you are showing your outward commitment to Alpha Phi. Additionally, your dues help fund the ongoing programs, products and services that keep Alpha Phi strong.

A portion of your international dues help fund:
• Publication of the Alpha Phi Quarterly Magazine;
• Re-design of the Alpha Phi Web site: www.alphaphi.org
• Launch of the new Official Facebook Application (debuting this summer)
Transitions e-newsletter for recent graduates
• Ivy Leaf new member information manual
• Staff and Educational Leadership Consultant visits to 150 collegiate chapters
• Little Dipper legacy program
• Facebook fan page
• LinkedIn groups
• On the Go Podcasts
• New collegiate chapter efforts, including recent colonizations at University of Kentucky, University of Denver and Florida State University
• Maintenance of the Alpha Phi Executive Office
• A
comprehensive membership database
• Coddington Club for Alpha Phi family members
• Support for new and existing alumnae chapters

Alpha Phi offers two different payment options:

• Select Annual Dues and pay $36.38. This payment includes your dues ($35) and your Founders' Day pennies ($1.38). Your dues will be paid through June 30, 2011.
• Select Lifetime Dues and pay $325. Your dues and Founders' Day pennies will be paid for the rest of your lifetime.

As a dues-paying member, you are afforded many benefits including, a subscription to the Alpha Phi Quarterly and corporate discounts through Working Advantage.

To pay your Alpha Phi International Dues, visit the fraternity’s Web site.

In addition to your international dues, please don’t forget to pay your local Alpha Phi alumnae chapter dues. If you are looking for an alumnae chapter near you, check out our listing or email Paige Stallings

July 14, 2010

Inside the EO

Ashley Breitenbach (Butler-Epsilon Beta)
Marketing and Communications Intern

My summer as the Alpha Phi Marketing Intern:

I was blessed with the opportunity to work at the Executive Office for a summer internship. Initially, I figured it would be convenient since I am an Alpha Phi and live real close to headquarters. However, I had no idea what a positive experience it would be to work here at the Alpha Phi Executive Office.

As my first official internship, I was nervous to work in an office setting.
This is a real business and a real office, Ashley. This is the big guns.

I’ll admit later, my friends asked how my first day was and I got to brag to them about how I have a cubicle, my own phone and computer and have to dress in real office clothes daily. They were even jealous of me because I had a staff meeting earlier in the day - who would have thought it was possible to be jealous of staff meetings? A supply room was stocked up with all the essentials to run a business: paper, envelopes, stamps, and POST-IT NOTES!

Even though all these exciting components of business was rather enjoyable for me, at the end of the day it isn’t the repetitive stapling and printing that will leave an impression on me. Throughout my internship, I reported to my supervisor,
Arden, daily on my progress. Even with all the busy work and lack of social time, Arden and I were still able to bond and laugh together when Excel wouldn’t work properly. We were able to connect with one another and even joke around when we spent almost 30 hours (no lie!) together making name tags for Convention. When Arden wasn’t around, I often would work with the other staff members in her department. Alissa, Paige and Stephanie all respected me and welcomed me with open arms.

Working with them has taught me how to work and communicate with a group of people and showed me how to accomplish a goal or project as a group. Regardless of the hard times, stressful times, goofy times and fun times, being here at Alpha Phi has showed me that these are all times that we have spent together. The support system here at Alpha Phi is one that is stronger than ever. Just in my few weeks here at Alpha Phi, I have seen glimpses of this support net. From J.D.’s peppy musical beats, to Denise’s fashionable outfits and infectious smile, to the whole office celebrations as individuals in the office step forward to a next chapter in their life (birthdays and law school graduations), the Alpha Phi Executive Office staff have been there for me and have taught me more things about myself than they know.

So to everyone at the office, thank you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with you, thank you for helping me learn, thank you for giving me the chance to make a difference and thank you for allowing me to meet such amazing individuals. The things that I have learned at Alpha Phi I will always keep with me and you have all helped me grow into the person I am today. I am so privileged to have this opportunity.



July 10, 2010

Alpha Phi Staff Profile: J.D. Louk

J.D. Louk
Kappa Sigma – Mu Tau Chapter/Austin Peay
Director of Collegiate Operations and I have been here almost a year!

Where do you work?
I work in the Collegiate Department at the Executive Office on the 2nd floor.

What does your job entail?
I work with operations of a chapter: risk management, elections, investigations to violations of fraternity polices and procedures, working with chapters who are on probation and action steps, and university relations. I also work with the Operations & Programming Coordinators for each of the 8 regions.

Why do you like working for Alpha Phi?
I love seeing committed women who are concerned for the advancement and development of each other. Volunteers and collegiate members working to advance each other and women’s issues. Alpha Phi has such a rich history and women who have helped pioneer strong women who are not afraid to take risks and who are cutting edge. There are so many areas that I feel I am able to help and I am excited to be a part of working with such dynamic women. Alpha Phi has the ability to impact so many women’s lives positively if each new members coming in opens up her heart and mind to what she may become through her commitment and involvement to Alpha Phi.

What is your favorite Alpha Phi memory?
Being a non-member and working as a volunteer with the Theta Omega chapter and seeing those women succeed and grow. We had such a culturally diverse group of women that learning from them was essential in my Alpha Phi involvement.

What is your Alpha Phi legacy?
I hope I am able to show that even a non-member can care about the success of each and every member and chapter. There are more people who altruistically want to help: just ask! While I may be a non-member my commitment to the history, ideals and principals of the fraternity does run deep.

What is the future of Alpha Phi?
I believe that Alpha Phi has such a potential for greatness. The foundational principals of the fraternity are grounded deeply in such rich values. If each member can understand these, the fraternity will not only be the best women’s fraternity but the ideal women’s organization for collegiate and alumnae alike.

Tell us about your family!
I have two nephews who make me smile and laugh often.

I love to travel and explore/see new places. I enjoy the theatre and miss the beaches of Miami. I am also training to complete (not compete) in the Chicago Half Marathon with some friends and Alpha Phis in October.

Interesting fact about yourself!
As a Chapter Consultant (our version of the ELC) for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity I traveled to 22 states visiting chapters. The driving was a great time for reflection and learning it’s to be ok being by myself.

July 5, 2010

On the Road

Anne McMurray (Beta – Northwestern)
09-10 ELC

The weight limit on checked bags is something that every ELC knows intimately. Each of us is an expert on exactly how much one can pack into our specific suitcase, and how to work a little magic when bags get close to fifty pounds. So it’s interesting to consider those little things we can’t imagine living without on the road, our life essentials—things we’d carry with us no matter how heavy they were.

For me, it’s stationery.

I have a specific pocket I reserve just for cards and when I have a little down time at a bookstore, I make sure to check out their supply of paper products. Now, while this isn’t the most usual essential, I’ve found it to be incredibly beneficial to many relationships I’ve had and made.

There is nothing more universally appreciated by volunteers and friends alike than a show gratitude and thoughtfulness. Dashing off a few lines in a handwritten note is the simplest way to make a fantastic impression and assure a good relationship. After each of my visits, I have made sure to send or leave thank you notes for my hosts, and thank every person that has put effort into making my time there well spent and enjoyed.

Even beyond thank you notes, a handwritten note is a special way of keeping in touch with all my friends and family members that because of my sometimes crazy schedule I’m not able to call as regularly as I’d like.

My grandmother and I regularly send each other letters, and just last month her sister found a stack of postcards that my grandmother sent her detailing her honeymoon in Europe many years ago. She has a happy reminder of all the wonderful things she experienced—one that no Facebook album will rival. I like to think that at some point down the road, one of my close friends will be able to do the same, and we’ll be able to reminisce about the year I spent traveling the country and collecting stories.

So, the next time you’re looking for the right way to express how much someone means to you, put down your laptop and pull out your pen.

July 1, 2010

Quarterly Review

Convention is in less than 2 weeks!
Anyone who came to Miami for our Convention in 1960?