Is AFA About Advancement or Making Face?

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It may not always seem like it, but I love the Association of Fraternity & Sorority Advisers (AFA) and I love the people who work with students.

When I cracked open the program booklet (virtually) to take a gander at all that appeared, I noticed a general preference for style over substance. This isn’t anything new to those of you who’ve read anything on this blog, and it may not even be new or specific to AFA, but now is as good a time as any to share a thought on the AFA annual meeting (less the organization itself, more we, the attendees, and our actions/choices)

Are we attending AFA to advance our organizations and career field, or are we just building our reputations among. . . ourselves?

I think it’s a valid question. Just look back to the outside-in article written the Spring 2014 Perspectives magazine. “High-voltage pants” is not just a fashion observation at AFA, it is a genuine summation of what our annual meeting has become at the expense of what it could be.

Perhaps we are a bit too focused on impressing one another with whose campus or organization had the cutest social media campaign about alcohol and drug abuse. Perhaps so few educational session programs initially appear interesting because none of the titles are genuine indicators of what is happening during the session.

On that last note, it’s a weird situation in which I have to look to the presenters and blurb about every session to get an idea for what that session covers. This isn’t the case for all sessions, but generally, your title should concisely summarize what you’re talking about. The title-gimmicks that demand “reality” or allude to sexual positions are fun, but the flash has outshone the content.

Again, this isn’t just me talking about colorful pants or too-confusing-to-be-misleading educational session titles. This is about the core of AFA.

Do we attend this meeting to build a name for ourselves in the fraternity and sorority world or do we attend this meeting to ensure that the bold, values-driven steps we claim to take are genuinely bold and values-driven?

It’s hard to argue the latter when so many in our field are closed off to others’ opinions, particularly those of our students. (If you think you’re open-minded because you support a certain platform, recognize that it means you are closed off to other platforms)

I have a strong sense that this 2015 meeting will include a healthy dose of conversation that serves more to confirm that we all like and dislike certain things at the expense of hearing things we don’t want to hear. . . like that maybe we could do even more for the world and our chapters by doing far less as jack-of-all-trades professionals.

Going to AFA? Read & Share These Relevant Posts. 

Making Fraternity Better Is Making It Less Accessible

Student Leaders Are Not Your Raw Material

The 5 Rules of Peacocking (If you intend to wear ‘high-voltage’ pants)