When I was asked to provide a blog for the month of June, I was willing but anxious about sharing my experiences of working with an all male fraternity. Becoming the first female director on staff with Phi Delta Theta Headquarters is a huge honor and one I don’t take lightly. I have to say that in the nine years I have worked for the Fraternity, I have faced my share of obstacles, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges.
To many I am known as Mrs. Clayton, the Event Planning lady. It’s true, one of my primary duties since coming on staff, (the summer of the implementation of Alcohol-Free Housing, no less) was to help implement, review and advise the Event Planning Program.
I imagine that members are wondering just how could a middle-aged lady ever understand the bond of brotherhood shared by the members of Phi Delta Theta? Why does she get to tell us what type of event we can and can not have? We’re fraternity guys! We know what is best for us!
It always makes me think of my Mother’s response when I wanted to do something that wasn’t always the smartest or safest thing to do, “But why?” I would ask. “Because I’m the Mom and I said so!” she would respond. I vowed I would never say that when I had children. I hate being the “mean mom.” I probably shouldn’t reveal this, but Phi Delts are among the most creative when it comes to their social events. A lot of the stuff they come up with does sound like great fun! Is it always safe or in their best interest? Well….NO!
Occasionally I have to tell a Social Chairman or Risk Management Chairman who have gotten to know me during the course of the year, “You know I hate to be the fun police, but no, you can not have a bungee jumping contest, ride a mechanical bull, have a water related event with a slide or pool of any kind, organize roof top boxing (?), or plan co-ed jell-o wrestling!” “But why?” they ask (and they always do). “Because I’m the Mom and I said so!”
On a serious note, the friendships I have made over the years with fellow staff members, alumni volunteers and the undergraduate members are ones that I will cherish for a lifetime. You don’t have to be a Phi to be “proud to be” associated with them!
Melanie Clayton is the Fraternity’s Director of Housing and Insurance. She handles a variety of issues for the GHQ Staff. Her primary responsibilities relate to chapter insurance, the Event Planning Program , chapter housing and serving as one of the staff liaisons to the Walter B. Palmer Foundation. Melanie is a lifelong resident of Oxford and is beginning her tenth year on the Phi Delta Theta staff .