Members of fraternities and sororities at Virginia Tech are collaborating to empower effective leadership on campus.

The Fraternal Leaders Institute: Inspire is a three-day experience the weekend of Feb. 27 that is grounded in the philosophy that all members of fraternities and sororities have the talents and skills to be transformative leaders.

“FLI helps leaders within the Greek community gather more information about what types of leaders they are and how to use personal strengths in leadership practices,” said Ryan Febles of Robbinsville, New Jersey, a sophomore majoring in finance in the Pamplin College of Business and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. “It helped me learn a lot about my strengths and then encouraged me to work in areas of strength within my organization.”

The priority deadline to register is Feb. 15. Registration is available through GobblerConnect.

The experience aims to increase an atmosphere of belonging, cultivate the knowledge to be a positive social change agent, create a sense of global citizenship, and advance fraternity and sorority life at Virginia Tech.

“The Fraternal Leaders Institute was envisioned as a means for inviting, not requiring, students to spend time thinking of themselves as change agents and realizing the possibility that exists when they’re in community with each other,” said Byron Hughes, director of fraternity and sorority life.

Hosted at the 4-H Skelton Educational Center at Smith Mountain Lake, approximately 45 students attend each institute. Built around both large and small group facilitated discussions, participants collaborate with other fraternities and sororities to maximize the potential for fraternity and sorority life at Virginia Tech.

Conversations throughout the weekend examine member involvement, intentional philanthropic activities, chapter accountability, and values integration. A key institute aspect is the development of “We Believe” statements that define and exemplify the strategic goals of all fraternities and sororities at Virginia Tech.

Fraternity and Sorority Life, a department within the Division of Student Affairs, houses 53 chapters that encompass more than 4,000 students. Those chapters are divided into four conferences and councils, but events such as Fraternal Leaders Institute exist to unify all members, who make up about 19 percent of Virginia Tech undergraduates.

“All of our Greek organizations across campus want the same thing—to get rid of the stigma and stereotypes of Greek life and to bring our organizations together in a productive and healthy way,” said Jenny Wang of Richmond, Virginia, a senior majoring in psychology in the College of Science and president of the Alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority. “At Fraternal Leaders Institute, having your passion reignited and knowing that there are people that care just as much as you do is a wonderful way to continue on your organization’s legacy.”

“To successfully navigate a lifetime of brotherhood and sisterhood, you have to expand the emphasis beyond tight friendship and fun college experiences to considering aspects like lifelong learning, intellectual development, and personal growth,” said Hughes.

“Students are identifying the role of a values-based experience in community development, they are considering the role of strengths in their own personal development, they are reframing what ‘community’ is, and they are departing to build a more meaningful membership experience in their chapters.”

The final Fraternal Leaders Institute of the 2014-2015 academic year is scheduled for May 19.

Written by Holly Paulette.

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