Allie Tookmanian,'16, and Kallyse Duddlesten, '17, and coordinator of GEM, share personal experiences to connect to the scenarios of conflict given at the GEM meeting held in the UC on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. Members used the quiz results of their conflict style from the first activity in the next activity of scenarios to connect what they learned throughout the meeting. (Madison Hoff/B&W Photo)

GEM program encourages Greek leadership

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In the midst of its application period, the Greek Emerging Leaders program aims to recruit members that share in the vision of eliciting positive change throughout Lehigh’s Greek community through the development of chapter member’s leadership skills.

Comprised of 35 mentees and 10 mentors, the program, commonly referred to as GEM, provides the opportunity for personal and leadership development, as well as collaboration and discussion among younger Greek chapter members. Bi-monthly meetings focus on identifying issues within the Greek community and discussing ways to make positive change happen. Almost every chapter is represented in GEM, allowing members to meet people outside of their own and gain new perspectives on campus issues.

GEM is an educational program managed by the Office of Student Affairs. Zach Brown, the newly appointed assistant director of Greek leadership development, is in charge of the program. He believes there are challenges with being a Greek student at Lehigh, and developing those leadership skills is essential to making beneficial changes to Greek culture.

“I believe GEM has so much potential and has the capacity to make such a huge difference on Lehigh’s campus,” Brown said.

Applications for GEM Mentees are released every February. Of the approximate 70 GEM mentee applications, 35 individuals who best embody the GEM ideals are chosen. Brown tries to select members who represent a broad range of chapters, making the selection process special. Not every chapter is represented in GEM, which is attributed to either the difficult selection process or not having members from every chapter apply.

The 35 mentees are divided into five groups, each of which is assigned two mentors. Mentors, which also represent a variety of chapters, have more experience within the Greek community, which they then encouraged to share with their mentees. Mentors are also paired to facilitate one of the GEM meetings.

“GEM is such a great outlet for those in the Greek community who are interested in making positive change through leadership experience,” GEM mentor Kallyse Duddlesten, ’17, said. “Our sessions involve having critical conversations that open up the mentees to difficult topics that apply to being Greek at Lehigh and how the Greek community functions.”

Mentors facilitate the meetings, which tackle national and local issues such as conflict management, bystander intervention, public speaking, maintaining the relevance of Greek life and breaking chapter stereotypes. The hope is that these tough conversations will be brought back to the chapters to continue the discussions.

“GEM’s vision is to create a cultural shift in how people interact with each other in Lehigh’s community as a whole,” GEM mentor Matt Bay, ’16, said.

GEM seeks to create cross-chapter relationships with younger chapter members. By building these relationships and starting these tough conversations early on in these members’ Greek experience, the goal is for young chapter members to support one another through their leadership development process.

“It’s easier to create change within a community when people know each other,” Bay said.

Creating change within a community begins with developing the personal strengths and skills of the individuals within that community. GEM participants believe every Greek chapter member can make a significant difference within the community because being a leader doesn’t always mean holding a chapter position. GEM empowers the younger chapter members to be that positive change within the community.

“Our hope is that fostering these conversations will spark positive change in the future of Greek Life at Lehigh, while also giving the mentees an opportunity to enhance their leadership skills and knowledge about their interpersonal relationships with their chapter membership and the community as a whole,” Duddlesten said.

Applications for mentors for the coming spring and fall semesters are live and due Nov. 11.

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