Story by Brianna Willis, Staff writer
Across the nation, it would seem that fraternities and sororities have been in trouble for violating rules put in place by the organizations.
Dr. Mari Ann Callais does not shy away from this fact. Rather she encourages members to live up to their values.
Callais began her talk with a jovial sing-along and called upon four fraternity brothers and four sorority sisters to help her out.
Starting off with a rousing rendition of “Lean on Me,” moving into a medley involving “Hakuna Matata,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Blank Space” and “Wagon Wheel,” Callais was intent on getting the students involved.
“This will only be as fun and interesting as you let it be,” she said.
The mood shifted at this point into a more serious discussion of fraternity and sorority values.
Greek life is something Callais knows well and holds dear.
She has worked in Greek Life for over 16 years and is a member of Theta Phi Alpha. Not only has she been hands on in Greek life, she has been awarded by numerous organizations, including, but not limited to, Sigma Sigma Sigma Greek Advisor of the year and the highest award Theta Phi Alpha bestows on a member, the Guard of Honor.
She asked new initiates to speak on why they joined the organization they did. Answers were heartfelt and students shared out responses such as wanting to join a brotherhood or sisterhood, a family away from home, to give back and to grow as a person.
One student said she joined her sorority because the historical significance of Alpha Delta Pi being the first secret society for college women.
This opened the floor for Callais to discuss issues facing fraternities and sororities, especially on Murray State’s campus.
“Do we talk about values because it’s a buzz word we’ve been taught, or because we mean it?” Callais said.
The conversations dealt with serious issues such as holding fellow sisters and brothers to a higher standard and keeping them accountable.
She did an activity with the students in which everyone held a blanket with two hands and in the middle she placed her personal badge. The blanket represented the Greek community, and her badge represented each individual chapter.
With each question she asked, they were to drop a hand if they had participated in those actions.
“Have you ever skipped class?” Callais asked.
Within a matter of seconds the badge had fallen to the floor.
The blanket had been totally let go of.
Callais talked to the students about being responsible for their actions and, above all trying, to be the best individuals and representatives of their respective organizations.
Greek unity was a huge part of the event, and the Panhellenic President, Caitlin Dunaway said she had heard Callais speak at the Association of Fraternal and Leadership Values Conference.
“I find sometimes our organizations can be separated and not really interact.” Dunaway said. “I thought Callais could provide some insight and help us come together.”
Callais closed the event with positivity.
She asked students to speak on women they saw in their organizations living the values they agreed to follow. She ended with a poem and a final thought.
“Where would you be without your sorority?’” she asked. “We are all very privileged to have a support system that is there for you no matter what.”