How to Make the Most of DSP (or any other campus organization)
Don’t be scared of Intentionality. Everyone can be a little afraid of making the first move. However, one of the best lessons I’ve learned is that it’s not weird to reach out. Ask for advice from an older member, grab coffee with someone in your pledge class, and send notes to a brother who missed classed before they ask. The experience you have within an organization is so much more fulfilling if you have people to share it with.
Treat Others as Brothers. One of the things I found the strangest when I first joined DSP, was the extension of brotherhood before I actually knew anyone. I had people I just met treating me with the sort of kindness you expect from a seasoned friend. These people saw me as a person of value before they looked at what I had to contribute. Everyone has different skills and talents, and treating brothers for who they are rather than what they can do creates an incredible culture.
Choose Friendliness. Waving as you pass someone on the sidewalk, taking ten minutes to chat about that horrendous accounting test, or offering to help with finance homework goes a long way. One of my first memories on the receiving end of this was during finals week of my freshman year. I was struggling as I was finishing up a Spanish paper and seriously second-guessing the grammar, but it was late, so I had resigned myself to a mediocre score. An older brother passed by where I was working (after a long night of studying themselves), and asked how my week was going. After I mentioned my predicament, he proceeded to work through the essay with me, line by line. It was a moment of friendliness that meant so much. Since then, there have been so many little moments – taking two seconds or two hours to go out of your way to acknowledge and assist someone will exponentially enhance your experience.
Jump In. From the moment I was initiated, my fraternal family was constantly encouraging me to look at getting involved in chapter leadership. I started attending the executive board meetings and listening in on all of their reports. As intimidated as I initially was, I ended up on the board the next year which gave me a much deeper appreciation for all the work that went on behind the scenes. Also, by running for a position sooner you have more time to learn, make mistakes, and figure out where you fit!
Say Yes. Agree to do things that put you out of your comfort zone. Mentor a new member (or two). Pile into a crowded car and head to a conference hours away from Truman. Volunteer to help out with things beyond the requirements. All of those times I said “yes” made the difference. Those mentees turned into some of my best friends. My all-time favorite memories involve late nights and road trips with brothers I didn’t really know before agreeing to a weekend of being squished into a car together. All of those extra tabling shifts, committees, and service events were really just a chance to get to know someone a little better.