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Brett Polen, Manager of Chapter Development, Sigma Alpha Epsilon
UIFI Small Group Facilitator, 2017 & 2018
Last year, a coworker told me about a leadership development program that brings together men and women from different fraternities and sororities to challenge the current way they see Greek life. Summer 2017 was my first experience being a part of the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI). I trusted the process and have become a very proud advocate for the program and the opportunities it can provide collegiate Greek members.
I believe a lot of Greek members fail to take advantage of the opportunity to work with other organizations for the betterment of their community on campus and to change the perception of Greek life as a whole. The Greek community is being challenged right now. Many of us can relate to the issue of a few members’ behaviors misrepresenting the organization as a whole, and now this is happening at the national level. We are all impacted by the actions of a few, even if they aren’t in our own organization; to an outsider, all of our letters look the same. We as a community need to look past our individual letters, come together, and be willing to make a change and ensure the correct perception of fraternities and sororities is being represented in the news.
I decided to continue as a facilitator for UIFI this year because I learned just as much from the curriculum and participants as the members of my group did. I learned from members of Theta Chi, Kappa Sigma, and Sigma Tau Gamma to name a few, which has helped me better develop the chapters of SAE when I visit with outside ideas and new perspectives. The participants at UIFI are eager to learn and make an impact on their campus and in their chapter. Seeing members that want to develop themselves and make their chapter better is very inspirational. Stripping away the letters and specific rituals, which make each of our organizations unique, and focusing on the values we all share is one of the major impacts this program has on its participants.
Learning begins at the end of your comfort zone and UIFI will push you to that limit. It will challenge you to think differently about not only your impact in your chapter, but also the impact you can make in your Greek and campus community. I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and attend a leadership program different from what your own organization may offer. Come to UIFI this summer and let it change the way you see Greek life for the rest of your college career.
Early-bird registration for UIFI ends April 23! Learn more about this transformative leadership experience and register at nicfraternity.org/uifi. Hundreds of scholarships are also available – find scholarship details here, including any application deadlines.