Fall Retreat went so well this year! I am truly blessed with an amazing group of actives. 🙂
Since this was the first time that I would actively be serving as president in front of everyone, I was suffering from a mild case of stage fright. I was so nervous about what I had to say and how I would say it… I kept trying to rehearse my lines to myself and my other EB members. I was so afraid to mess up in front of everyone… Needless to say, my fears were NOT necessary! All of the actives are so sweet and understanding; they offer me nothing but support! Once we got going, I couldn’t believe how nervous I had been… or how lucky I am to be surrounded by such beautiful young women.
Of course it was a little awkward at first- especially with all of the motions for voting and such- but once we got going, it was fine. 🙂 One of the first things that I had to tell everyone was that we did not have a chapter room yet. (At the time, I was still working out our reservation with the Student Life office.) I thought that everyone would freak out or blame me or something, but they took it very well- I was shocked! Their trust in me gave me confidence, and I thank them for that. This may seem silly to anyone who has not dealt with a large group of young people (I am thinking back to my days in church youth group), but one of the most shocking realizations of how awesome my girls are happened when the pizza was late. They didn’t complain, and when it did arrive, they formed an orderly line and got their pizza… It is truly the little things in life! 🙂
In the following two days, business continued to go very smoothly! All but one of our amendments passed. We did not raise the mimimum required service hours for active sisters to 30, it remains at 25 hours. The first few amendments that passed were not very exciting- we simply moved the officer descriptions from our constitution to our bylaws, added, “Update all service records and forms at least once per semester,” to the Service Director position description, added, “Update all membership records and forms at least once per semester. These forms should include but are not limited to our roster, contact list, and family trees,” to the Membership Director position description, and added, “She shall attempt to collect new contact information from alumnae once per semester,” to the Alumnae Liason position description. We also took out the fees of an LOA semester, because we do not charge them. Then, we voted on some exciting amendments! The first is about our drug and alcohol policy:
Change to Read: (Bylaws) Article II Conduct
Section 1) No sister shall wear the letters of Omega Phi Alpha when engaging in the consumption of alcoholic beverages or engaging in any activities in which the principles of Omega Phi Alpha are not upheld. No sister shall attend any Omega Phi Alpha function while under the influence of any alcoholic or illegal substance. No sister shall post photos on any online platform of herself while engaging in any of these prohibited activities alongside photos of anything related to or including images of OPA events, letters, or insignia.
Rationale: We are a dry sorority, and we should not associate our organization with the consumption of alcoholic beverages or any other activity that does not uphold the principles of OPA. This amendment is saying that sisters are not allowed to post pictures of themselves drinking in the same album that contains pictures of OPA activities, letters, etc.
We raised our local dues to include the cost of Retreat:
Change to Read:
Section 2) Sisters on Active Status shall pay local dues of $120 in addition to the national dues of $50.
Rationale: The update in our local dues reflects the inclusion of a $60 retreat cost. Retreat is a mandatory event that all sisters should make every possible effort to attend each semester. Therefore, retreat is a cost that all members should expect to pay as a sister of Omega Phi Alpha, but may be surprised by because it is not included in the dues that we advertise. By including the price of retreat in our dues, we do not withhold any information from potential members. I feel that this inclusion (stating that dues are $170) is more straightforward that what we are doing now (stating that dues are $110, but you also have to pay $60 for our mandatory retreat). In this way, the price does not sneak up on our members, and they will know how much they are required to pay per semester.
We also added some conditions to our honorary membership status:
Change to Read:
(Bylaws) Article III Elections Section 11) Honorary members can be nominated by members or self-nominated. She will be able to wear OPA letters, attend meetings and functions if invited by the president, and receive a copy of the Chevron.
- To become an honorary member, a sister will complete a one year provisional period in which she must show active interest in the chapter with a minimum participation in three events per semester including chapter meetings, service events, and sisterhood events. After this year long provisional period, the chapter will vote on the sister’s honorary member status. A two-third vote is required.
- If the sister is rewarded honorary member status, she must sign a contract stating that she will continue to fulfill her honorary member duties and responsibilities through her graduation date. If the sister fails to participate in a minimum of three events per semester, her honorary member status may be revoked with a two-third vote by the chapter.
- This does not include our first advisor Louise Lawson
Rationale: Right now, there is nothing in our constitution about what we expect from our honorary members after they are awarded this status. Honorary members should continue to show interest and commitment to OPA throughout their college career, just as any other sister would. This amendment ensures that we will hold our future honorary members to a high standard- worthy of the right to wear letters and associate themselves with OPA.
We included our wedding tradition in our Bylaws:
Change to Read: (Bylaws) Article VIII. Chapter Traditions.
Section 2. On the occasion of a sister’s wedding, all Omega Phi Alpha sisters in attendance may perform the following ceremony for the bride; at some point during the bride’s wedding day, her Omega Phi Alpha sisters shall form a circle around her, sing “Yellow Rose,” and present the bride with yellow roses.
We limited the number of waivers that a sister may receive:
Change to Read: (Bylaws) Article I Section 4 Clause 1. G A sister may only receive a full waiver once throughout her active semesters. In case of extreme financial hardship, she may apply for further full waivers with supporting documentation.
Rationale: Our chapter cannot afford to continually waive dues for multiple sisters each semester. There are other options available for sisters who cannot afford to pay such as payment plans, partial waivers, and LOA semesters.
Changed the responsibility of determining fundraising points and the minimum at which they may be set per semester:
Change to read: f. Attain minimum fundraising points as set by the Fundraising Chair and Treasurer and approved by the chapter at the beginning of each semester with a majority vote. Fundraising points must be set at a minimum of four points each semester. For a fundraising project to pass, it must be presented to the chapter and voted on by a majority. If a sister votes yes to a project, she is required to participate in said project.
Finally, we updated the way that we determine our sisterhood points to match the way that we determine our fundraising points:
Change to Read: g. Attend the minimum requirement of sisterhood events each semester as set by the sisterhood chair and approved by the chapter at the beginning of each semester with a majority vote. Sisterhood points must be set at a minimum of four points each semester.
I know that everyone doesn’t feel this way, but I enjoy the amendments! I think that proposing and voting on amendments is a great way for sisters to become involved in the leadership of our organization.
While business is the main purpose of Retreat, we also had some fun! Of course, we played signs, the birthday game, the egg/chicken/gorilla/elvis/enlightened game that I can’t name right now, and I painted as many nails as my sisters would let me! 😉 Oh, and of course we can not forget the annual traditions of mattress surfing down the hallways and late night truth or dare. I love my sisters SO much, and I wouldn’t trade our experiences together for anything! While this was my last Fall Retreat as an active, I didn’t let myself get sad- which means I didn’t even let myself think about it while I was there- and I hope that I will be able to return as an alum. I never want Omega Phi Alpha to leave my life! 🙂