Cassie Thomas | Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life | Fraternity & Sorority Life
Three years at Carolina
Describe your role as Assistant Director.
In my role, I advise the Panhellenic and the Interfraternity Council Executive Board's and Chapter President's. I help and assist the students in developing, implementing, assessing, and facilitating programs to enhance the fraternal experience for individual chapters and chapter members that are consistent with the University’s educational mission and values, FSL goals and objectives, and student developmental needs. I help facilitate and execute relevant educational initiatives and programs for fraternity and sorority members including, but not limited to: risk management, leadership training/development, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. I communicate and meet regularly with chapter advisory boards, housing corporations, and national consultants to ensure all chapters are operating successfully and reaching their fullest potential. I also work closely with advisors and headquarters staff to address and create solutions to any crisis or risk management issues that arise within our chapters.
How is your work now different from a traditional academic year?
During a traditional academic year, our office is always planning something-whether it be facilitating a training, hosting a workshop, or volunteering to help with large scale events with the community. During a normal year, there is always something going on and we were always planning for the next thing. With the pivot to remote learning, we have had to get creative on how to ensure that students were still receiving the same training and opportunities while keeping their health and safety at the forefront. We have tried our best to keep some sense of "normalcy" around meetings and events that would typically happen during a school year such as our President's Leadership Academy and Risk Management Training. We have restructured the delivery and length of trainings and have tried to be more intentional with our meeting agendas to ensure we stay on track during the time in which we have asked them to be with us. While it isn't the same as being in person, we wanted to be sure that we are still doing our best to give them the best experience we can.
What has been the biggest challenge with the switch to remote learning?
Pre COVID-19, it was very rare that I wasn't meeting 1-1 with a student. During a traditional school year, students constantly pop in and hang out which is one of my favorite things about my job! With all of our meetings being online and over zoom, it has been hard to build those personal relationships with our newer leaders. It is hard to really get to know someone through a screen-nothing beats a face to face conversation. I am eager for the day we can all be together again!
How are you maintaining a sense of community among those you serve?
I still hold weekly 1-1 meetings with student leaders to check in. The first half of our meetings are usually spent talking about how they're doing and things unrelated to Fraternity and Sorority Life as I know they all have so many other things going on in their lives right now. We also host monthly zoom meetings with all council and chapter presidents and monthly zoom meetings with all four council executive boards.
What do you like most about your work?
The relationships I build with students is by far the best part about my job. I truly love working with college students. Their genuine passion to want to make their community and world a better place and their love for life in general is infectious. It warms my heart when students stay in touch after graduation and update me about how "adulting" is going. I have been invited to numerous student weddings (which also makes me sad because it makes me feel old-but that is another story for another day 🙂
What is one thing you hope will stay the same once things return to normal?
One thing that I hope stays once things return to normal is the work-life balance and flexibility of working from home on occasion. Before COVID, I don't think I realized how little boundaries I had set for myself and my students. I felt a need to be at everything all the time and say yes to everything because I wanted the students to feel supported.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I look forward to seeing all of you in person very soon!! 🙂