Twenty-eight Virginia Commonwealth University students and three staff recently represented VCU at the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values Central Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, from Feb. 2-5.
Since 2009, the Central Fraternal Leadership Conference and the National Black Greek Leadership Conference have partnered to comprise the the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values (AFLV) Central Conference. This year, the two coinciding events hosted over 2,800 participants — making it the largest gathering of undergraduate fraternity and sorority leaders and councils from chapters in the U.S. ever.
The AFLV exists to stimulate the growth and development of fraternity and sorority councils, chapters and members by promoting leadership, education and values based experiences and resources. The AFLV Central Conference featured joint workshops and presentations, as well as the opportunity for inclusive programming and collaboration between campus administrators, national organizations and students to address specific issues.
Dean Lee, junior biology major and member of Pi Kappa Alpha, attended the conference for the first time this year. Part of what peaked Lee’s interest in attending the conference was to gain other perspectives and ideas from other schools and chapters across the nation.
“It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the bubble of Interfraternity Council at VCU…I’d like to take these experiences and opportunities from AFLV and bring them here [VCU],” Lee said.
Darius Stuvaints, senior mechanical engineering major and member of Alpha Phi Alpha, attended the conference for the second time. Stuvaints was also interested in seeing other perspectives from people that live all over the country.
“There’s a lot of input that can come from me meeting another member of Alpha Phi Alpha — from learning about their upbringings to interests to asking them why they are the president of their organization,” Stuvaints said.
Stuvaints was also looking forward to having more information about what the national Greek community is like.
“A lot of people have negative stereotypes and misconceptions about these organizations…but that’s not true when you meet another 5,000 people and they’re all doing substantive things,” Stuvaints said.
The AFLV Central Conference is host to many professional and social networking opportunities which Meghan Zapiec, coordinator for fraternity and sorority life at VCU, believes is essential.
“When you go to conferences like this and you meet people from all across the country, you’re learning a lot of new things and a lot of different ways of thinking about different pieces of information. Our students have a mindset to not accept the status quo, so I’m hoping this conference will really add to that,” Zapiec said.
Jennifer Osaki, senior graphic design major and member of Alpha Omicron Pi, first heard about the conference from Zapiec. She told her the AFLV conference was meant to bring members of the executive boards of the councils together to learn about fraternal values, leadership and other tools that would help them become better leaders.
Osaki’s objectives were to meet other leaders and see how they operate in their chapters, but, more importantly, to learn new strategies of leadership by attending workshops. “I was really interested in seeing how I could better myself as a leader by utilizing the diverse training available,” Osaki said.
Overall, the AFLV Central Conference was a positive experience for the students. “My executive board and I, even everyone I talked to across all the councils, all had a great time in a lot of different aspects and they all learned something great. Everyone feels very energized about going forward. If I was going to be here another year, I would run for another position just to be able to go [to the AFLV Central Conference] again. I ’10 out of 10′ would recommend attending the conference,” Lee said.
For more information about AFLV, visit their website at http://www.aflv.org/?page=AFLVCentral.