Archive for May, 2007

Fighting City Hall

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

On May 17th, Tommy from MAR said:

Though we are a youth-led movement, however, I’m not sure (and I guess this is a question), to what extent can we “change the rules”, as you say, to truly improve our Order?

I’ll do you the courtesy of not giving you the easy answer – the one you learn from school and mass media – either “in a Democracy everyone can have an impact” or maybe “you should respect authority, they have experience and know what’s best”. I think I’d choke on the words.

I’m going to give you the truth as I see it.

The simple answer to your question is – it depends.

Now lets cut the crap and talk about what that really mean.


The Coed Conundrum

Monday, May 21st, 2007

I’ve been having a fascinating conversation with Tommy from Mid-America region. In his comment of May 17 he asks two questions, and I thought I’d respond to the second one first – the issue of “late night rooms” and revisit the whole co-ed housing question.

First, let me remind everyone that I only speak for myself here, so the following interpretation of BBYO policy is not “official” by any means.

So let’s get right down to business. The purpose of the no co-ed housing policy is NOT to prevent AZA’s and BBG’s from hooking up. As an advisor, I have no problems with that at all – to a significant degree that’s what conventions are for.

The purpose of the no co-ed housing policy is to, believe it or not, preserve fraternity and sisterhood. Surprised? Bear with me.


Hooking up at Conventions

Friday, May 11th, 2007

In a recent comment, Tommy from Mid-America region argues that convention rules should be more lax so that Alephs and BBG’s would have more opportunity to “hook-up”.

He is absolutely correct.

In my post “The Convention Game” I argue that when members violate convention rules they are not only breaking their word, and truly going against the very foundation of BBYO as a youth led organization. Tommy, in his comment, points out that this is a lot to ask for from a bunch of teens with raging hormones. This is true. He does not quite say that raging hormones should be an excuse for breaking the rules – if he did, on that we would part company. He then makes a strong case for changing the rules. In doing so he is, from my perspective, embracing his role as a leader in BBYO.

I don’t know what role Tommy plays in his region, but whether Aleph or RAG (or even advisor), I encourage him to mobilize his friends to modify the rules. This needn’t be difficult. For example: I’ve been at more than one convention where they had a large “late night room” – those members who wanted to could hang out together well past curfew as long as they didn’t actually fall asleep (though inevitably some did). A good regional director will be open to creative suggestions for more social opportunities, but it’s up to the members to raise this issue if they feel existing rules are too strict.

Convention planners should include plenty of social programs – I’ve seen some cases where they were so focused on separates they didn’t plan nearly enough social time. I’ve also seen conventions go so far off schedule that what social time was planned was lost, either through poor planning or lack of cooperation by members on basic issues like getting to meals on time.

As an advisor, I agree 100% with Tommy’s observation that one of the most important purposes of conventions is for Alephs and BBG’s to hang out (if not hook up). On more than one occasion I’ve offered (unofficial) advice to members on how to accomplish this without a major rules violation. But the way to increase these opportunities is not by condoning rule breakers and breaking trust. It’s by changing the rules and being trustworthy. To give you an example: A “late night” hangout room such as I describe can only work when the members can be trusted to follow the agreement that makes such arrangements possible.

It is my obligation as an advisor to see that convention rules are followed. It is the responsibility of the youth leadership to enforce the rules so that advisors don’t have to. It is the obligation of every member to follow the rules as they promised. And most important of all, it is the right of every member to be vocal and involved in changing the rules for the betterment of the order (and yes, that includes the social aspects as well).

The 3:00am Dillema

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Yesterday this thoughtful comment was posted in response to my recent post “The Convention Game“. This post is in response to you (who posted the comment) and anyone in your situation:

As a current regional leader, I feel that it is the regional board’s job to regulate their peers’ actions before getting the staff involved. Unless someone is going to be seriously injured, I’d rather kick boys out of a cabin myself and stay quiet than alert a staff member and have harsher than necessary actions taken, especially for a first offense.

That’s one of the toughest calls to make. I know the “official” answer: that you should have notified staff, but you and I both know it’s not so simple – “just following orders” is never a sufficient answer, even if it’s orders by your regional director.

Here’s one suggestion though: (more…)