My name is Erin Poppe, and I'm an alumna of the Delta Eta chapter at Kansas State University.
Our university newspaper recently published an article I wrote about my rape that occurred freshman year seven years ago, as part of a series on sexual violence awareness. (Editor's note: April is Sexual Assault Prevention Awareness Month.)
I decided to share my story with you because what happened to me is not uncommon. No, I didn't get attacked on the way to my car at night and no, I wasn't walking down a dark alley alone. But just because my rape doesn't fit the mainstream idea of sexual assault doesn't make it any less real. And just because talking about sexual assault can be uncomfortable doesn't mean we shouldn't. In fact, that's all the more reason we should.
This article has blown up here on campus, and the response has been so overwhelmingly positive. I believe this is because it contributes to the often-unspoken conversation about what nonviolent/impaired consent rape looks like - which is a conversation I believe to be especially important for both our college members and alumnae, regardless of where they're from.
I have to say that I'm so grateful for support I've received from my Theta sisters during this vulnerable time. So thank you, Theta, for putting these women in my life.
In my role as social media specialist, I have the pleasure of interacting with Thetas online every day. I consider representing Kappa Alpha Theta on social media a big responsibility, and I keep Theta's mission and values in mind as I respond to comments and disseminate content on behalf of the organization. I try to bring Theta's authentic "voice" to our social media presence, with the goal of keeping thousands of Thetas connected to and engaged with this beloved sisterhood.
One of my favorite aspects of social media is its ability to amplify positive momentum. For example, if a member completes a service project as part of 150 Days of Celebrating Service, she has done her part to spread the widest influence for good and can be proud of her contribution. If she posts about the experience on a social media platform, her entire friend network will learn about her good deed and perhaps be inspired to serve, as well. And if I, as Theta's social media specialist, am able to see and share her content, thousands of women all over the world can continue spreading the widest influence for good in her stead. The ripple effect of our digital world allows one act of love to reach thousands or even millions of other people.
By using Theta's official hashtags, you can be an advocate for Kappa Alpha Theta online. Help spread the word about important aspects of Theta using these hashtags:
- #Theta1870: The official Theta hashtag. If you are posting about Theta generally and other, more specific hashtags do not apply, this is the best one to use. This is also the hashtag to use for Founders Day.
- #LeadingWomen: Our tagline applies to many members who are leading the way on campus, in the workplace, in their communities, and in their personal lives. Use this hashtag anytime you are posting about a Theta who is showing leadership in her actions.
- #Theta16: The official hashtag of Grand Convention 2016!
- #ThetaELCs: For any post about our educational leadership consultant (ELC) program.
- #ThetaFoundation: For any posts related to Theta Foundation programs and services.
- #ThetaHighFives: We use this hashtag when recognizing outstanding volunteers every other Friday, but feel free to use it anytime you want to give someone a shout-out!
- #ThetaHistory: This hashtag is used for our #ThrowbackThursday posts and anytime we talk about Theta's history. You might have also noticed that content posted to this hashtag on Twitter and Instagram is displayed on our heritage site!
- #ThetaHousing: For any posts about the Fraternity Housing Corporation or Theta facilities.
- #ThetaLove: For any general post about sisterhood. We can all use some #ThetaLove!
- #ThetaScholar: For posts related to Thetas pursuing academic excellence.
- #ThetaService: For any post about Thetas engaging in service work or helping others.
- #Theta150: For posts associated with our 150 Days of Celebrating Service initiative and any future content related to celebrating our sesquicentennial!
As always, if you have Theta photos to share, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for helping us tell Theta's story online!
Thetas have positive feelings toward our Fraternity! An overwhelming number (17,526) of alumnae and collegians recently completed the online member engagement and satisfaction survey. The feedback we received is invaluable to better understand the interests and priorities of our members.
Some highlights from the survey include:
- More than nine out of ten members (92 percent) have very positive or somewhat positive feelings toward Kappa Alpha Theta.
- Most Thetas consider themselves at least somewhat engaged with the Fraternity. Over a quarter (27 percent) of members considers themselves moderately engaged, and one in four considers herself either highly or very highly engaged (22 percent and 4 percent, respectively).
- Most college seniors (90 percent) indicate that they plan to stay involved with Theta in some way after graduating.
- Of all events surveyed, Founders Day celebrations had the highest rate of participation with 70 percent of members having participated, followed by Day of Service (42 percent).
- Thetas place high value on service- and assistance-oriented offerings that help fellow members and contribute to the greater good.
- Survey respondents represented all age groups. Thirty-three percent were under age 23; 18 percent were ages 23 to 34, 17 percent were between 35 and 50; 17 percent were ages 51 to 65; 15 percent were over age 65.
Although we are very pleased with the results, we have a lofty vision for the future of Kappa Alpha Theta. Results from the survey will be used in the pursuit and realization of Kappa Alpha Theta's Plan of Aspirations, developed to guide our organization through 2019. You can read more about this plan and our vision for the future in the Spring issue of the Theta magazine.
There is a lot of discussion these days about the ways in which college experiences prepare an individual for a successful career or even for jobs that don't yet exist. Like many Thetas, I've been fortunate enough to have an exciting career that has afforded me many opportunities and rewards. However, the best job I ever had was one that did not offer benefits or even a paycheck. The best job my college experience prepared me for was serving on Grand Council.
What prepares you to be a member of Grand Council? What skills and experiences do you need? Candidates should possess vision, leadership, commitment, and a desire to serve Kappa Alpha Theta. The skills needed for council service are developed through myriad life experiences including college and alumnae Theta activities, professional careers, personal development, volunteer roles, and community engagement.
Members of Grand Council provide vision and leadership, direct the implementation of programs, and set policies for Fraternity activities and members. Grand Council members must uphold the core values of Kappa Alpha Theta that were articulated in the 19th century while ensuring the Theta experience remains meaningful in the 21st century—and beyond.
Board service requires a commitment of time, talent, and treasure. Council duties include travel to council meetings, Fraternity meetings such as Grand Convention, and college and alumnae chapter events as needed. Members of Grand Council participate in regular conference calls, and may also participate on Theta Foundation board of trustees or the Fraternity Housing Corporation board. Sometimes these obligations require time away from friends, family, community, and work, but the time away from other endeavors is certainly time well spent for the benefit of more than 200,000 college and alumnae members of Kappa Alpha Theta.
A unique blend of talents and a variety of perspectives are needed to make Grand Council the effective governing board that it is. Each woman is different and brings her unique experiences to the table. Council members have been members of large alumnae chapters as well as small. Some lived in a chapter facility during their college years, and others did not. Some members of Grand Council were initiated into our oldest chapters, while others' college chapters have been disestablished. Council members use skills and knowledge from a variety of experiences to execute their duties. Women from all backgrounds and professions including health, law, education, business, etc. apply their professional expertise, knowledge gained from involvement with Kappa Alpha Theta, and skills developed through participating in countless other community organizations to their Council duties.
This year, the nominating committee will not only prepare the Grand Council slate, but it will also prepare a slate for the board of directors for the Fraternity Housing Corporation (FHC). The FHC determines the college chapter housing strategy and establishes funding standards to support FHC facilities and programs.
I encourage you to participate in the nominating processes of Grand Council and/or the FHC board of directors. I encourage you to read the job descriptions for both boards and to engage in the nomination process by completing a nomination form yourself or nominating a well-qualified Theta before April 8. The Nominations page has details on the entire process. Although these positions don't offer remuneration, Kappa Alpha Theta board service is one of the best jobs you can ever have!
Our guest blogger is Ellen Urbani, author of "When I Was Elena." We are discussing her book at tonight's Reading Women book club.
The summer of 2015 marked nearly 25 years since I'd last gathered en masse with my Theta sisters. We'd been members of Delta Omicron at the University of Alabama in the late '80s, back when hair was bigger and pearls were de rigueur, before tornadoes wiped out the east side of campus, before New Orleans sank beneath hurricane waters, and before babies and husbands and careers monopolized our days. It would never again be like it had once been.
Until it was. Until it was ... better.
In the late summer of 2015, I embarked on a national book tour with my latest book, Landfall, a work of contemporary historical fiction set Alabama and Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I took my 10-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son with me on a trek that started at the eastern seaboard and wended its way toward Texas, hoping to introduce them to the South I always loved but have long-since left; the South I adore for its hospitality and graciousness and warmth of spirit. I wanted them to meet the ghost of the girl I had once been.
Instead, they met my family.
In state after state, in bookstore after bookstore, my sisters turned out to welcome me home. Not just my immediate sisters, mind you: meaning not just Delta Omicrons, though they turned out in droves, showing up with friends and family at every single stop on my 20-city national tour. (Heck: one fellow sister who couldn't make it sent her mother in her stead; another sent her husband and his work colleagues; yet another crossed three state lines to hug me in person.) But sisters I never knew I had showed up too, spurred by a handwritten note I'd sent to Theta alumnae groups in cities throughout the South - cities where I didn't know a soul and had nightmares about taking the stage before a roomful of empty chairs. Alumnae groups in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas - as well as parts of Alabama I'd never called home - turned out to fill those seats, cheer me on, and make sure that at not one single place in all of my travels did I ever feel either lonely or unsupported.
It was a gift of sisterhood unlike anything I had ever witnessed, and the truest demonstration of the motto "Theta for a lifetime" that one could conceive.
I have always thought that joining Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity was one of the smartest choices I made in college. You all have now convinced me that it is one of the smartest choices I have made in my life. Thank you, everyone. Your love makes my heart swell anew, a quarter-century later.
Most of us recognize 1 Corinthians 13 as the "love chapter," often read at weddings, funerals and other life events. It also has a place in Theta ritual. I'm sometimes asked why we haven't changed it to adapt to the more diverse membership of the present. After all, many Thetas today do not subscribe to the New Testament. My response is that even though our membership is beautifully diverse, this particular piece of literature is universal. To understand why this passage is part of (and remains in) our services, one must first contextualize its place in our history and understand its meaning beyond the literary home.
Our founders were Christians; Bettie Locke's father was a Methodist minister. So, it's safe to say she was familiar with the content of the New Testament. But, she was not founding a religious order. So, why would she put a passage from the Bible in our ritual?
She was founding a values-based organization and was looking for a way to express those values. Bettie was a student in post Civil War America, when books were expensive and treasured. Given her family background and her lack of other resources, the Bible was probably her first stop. And, when she found 1 Corinthians 13, she did not need to look further.
Why 1 Corinthians 13? Most biblical scholars agree that this passage does not refer to a romantic love nor, despite its context in a collection of religious writings, does it have anything to do with any prophet or religious belief. Instead it was probably chosen because the love represented in the passage refers to:
- A regard, respect, and caring concern for another person that does not depend on the worthiness or "lovableness" of that person
- An act of the will which places the welfare of others above the interests of oneself
(Short Bible Studies, purifiedbyfaith.com)
Bettie and her friends had a need for support during what was probably the most difficult time of their young lives. They turned to each other and took vows that are the same as what we say today. Did they know that nearly 150 years later, these sentiments would still mean so much to so many? Our values have stood the test of time, and continue to remain relevant.
There have been millions of pieces of literature written about love since 1870. We haven't changed our ritual because to do so would be to lose that connection we have to that snowy day in Greencastle. To think we could do better than the women who experienced the beginnings of this organization would be disrespectful to the valor and devotion of our Founders.
<< View Older Entries View Newer Entries >>