As you recruit new members this fall, are you being intentional about creating a diverse and inclusive chapter? Your chapter should reflect the student body at your college; everyone is a potential PTK member, which means you need a recruitment plan that reaches — you guessed it — everyone.
Dr. Theresa Ramos and Dr. Tomas Ramos, advisors to the Chi Gamma Chapter at Tacoma Community College in Washington, led an educational forum on diversity at PTK Catalyst 2018. Some of the key takeaways from their session have been worked into this article.
What does this mean?
Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs. It encompasses acceptance and respect: you understand that each individual is unique, and you recognize those individual differences.
Inclusion is involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized. Phi Theta Kappa prides itself on being an inclusive organization — members only need to hit that minimum grade point average.
Research has shown that all students gain important skills when working in a diverse environment. Diversity is also an important determinant for future success — in order to better prepare students in our chapters for the work environment, we need to create inclusive and diverse chapters.
So, it’s important to always stop and assess how your chapter is doing. What efforts are you making to assure all students on campus feel welcome in your chapter?
Start by making new friends
College campuses host numerous student clubs and organizations, all of them different, and all focused on helping a specific subset of the student population feel welcome. For instance, there are clubs for international students, LGBTQ students, students with disabilities, and military veterans.
Some organizations target specific majors, others target special interests and hobbies. Some are built around race, others are built around religion.
Make friends with the students in these groups. You don’t even have to do it alone — have your PTK chapter partner with another student organization for a service project or fundraiser.
Work with your chapter officers and advisors to develop an inclusion plan for your campus. Identify which clubs and organizations you would target for partnership, and create a list of high-profile individuals on your campus who are PTK members.
Look within your chapter for help, too — which members or officers are also involved with other campus organizations?
Be strategic in your messaging
The “I AM PTK” recruitment campaign is built on five different “personas,” each designed to reflect a set demographic among PTK members. There’s a traditional college student, an international student, a returning adult student, a career-technical student, and someone in the healthcare field.
This diverse campaign aims to represent as much of the community college population as possible. The hope is that all students can see some part of themselves in at least one of these personas. Be conscious about the word choices in your recruitment campaign.
Which brings us to your chapter’s recruitment messaging. Create your own I AM PTK personas based on the students at your college, or build a different promotional campaign. The important part is that your peers are able to see themselves as members.
You could also take your college’s tagline and adjust it to be in line with PTK messaging. At Tacoma Community College, for example, the tagline is “Reach Higher.” The Chi Gamma Chapter could adapt it into a campaign called “Reach Even Higher with PTK.”
Not all messaging is verbal, though. Is your chapter set up to be inclusive? Are your meetings accessible to students with mobility issues? Do you offer the opportunity to attend meetings online for those who are unable to attend in person? Using a video conferencing service like Zoom can also increase engagement among your members.