Greek Life Advisor Jake Bates reflects on first semester at Lafayette

Prior+to+coming+to+Lafayette%2C+Bates+served+as+Program+Manager+for+Fraternity+and+Solidarity+Life+at+Lindenwood+University+in+St.+Charles%2C+Missouri.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Jakes+Bates%29.+

Prior to coming to Lafayette, Bates served as Program Manager for Fraternity and Solidarity Life at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. (Photo courtesy of Jakes Bates).

Emma Chen, Assistant News Editor

Amid anti-Greek Life sentiment on campus and the COVID-19 pandemic, Jake Bates joined the Lafayette community on July 12 as the Associate Director of Student Involvement and Advisor to fraternities and sororities.

Bates wrote in an email that his time so far has been “wild.” He noted the importance of the first few months in a new position.

“The first year, especially the first few months, is always exciting and busy because it’s a new job with a new community and it requires a great deal of time focused on understanding the needs and expectations of the community and the culture on campus. I look forward to seeing what the future brings to the fraternity & sorority community and how my role in that process is shaped,” Bates wrote.

Regarding the pandemic, Bates said that he has learned three lessons while navigating Greek life during this time. First, always have more than one backup plan. Second, be prepared and help students feel prepared. Third, effectively transfer the excitement of the in-person world to the virtual world.

“We may never reach an equally exciting and engaging virtual world or be able to prepare our students for everything that life may throw at us, but it’s something that we need to strive towards because the future is rarely predictable,” Bates wrote.

He emphasized that his top priority is the health of the students and flexibility in any plans.

“There hasn’t had to be a balancing act, as much as a flexibility to COVID policies and how they might change for our community. I have to continually think of ways to prepare my students for things to drop at a moment’s notice,” Bates wrote. “It is a challenge to approach and I may not always be the most successful, but I always keep the safety of my students as the highest priority.”

Bates sees the role of Greek life organizations on campus as a sort of refuge, providing a safe place for students and allowing them to have fun.

“My philosophy has always been to provide opportunities for students to grow as individuals and to enhance a positive impact,” Bates wrote. “Due to COVID, I’ve added ‘while remaining as safe as possible’ to the end. My belief has always been that fraternities and sororities are here to provide a home, a support system, and a network to empower growth, while still having fun and enjoying their collegiate experience.”

Bates noted that one of the silver linings to come out of the pandemic was the increased communication between himself and leaders within Greek Life organizations. Due to the nuances and constant changes in COVID-19 policies, social events have to be closely monitored in order to keep them as safe as possible.

“As I am still new to my role, most of my interactions and communication between myself and the [Greek Life] community have been focused on getting to know the community, understand the needs and expectations of all stakeholders, and working with chapter and council leadership to navigate policies, COVID regulations, event planning, etc.,” Bates wrote.

Bates previously held roles overseeing fraternity and sorority life at Lindenwood University. There he developed a curriculum around professional development and diversity, equity and inclusion. He hopes to bring this experience into the Lafayette Greek Life community.

“I bring a wealth of varying experience in the type of work I have done and in the diverse background of the student populations,” Bates wrote. “I have focused many of my efforts on a holistic developmental approach: professional, service and philanthropy, social, academic, and [diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)].”

Bates further emphasized the ability for Greek Life organizations to shape the future of fraternity and sorority life at Lafayette. 

“There is one area of focus that I am diligently working on to enable the growth and progress of the community: establishing the ‘new normal,’” Bates wrote. “The community has not experienced a full year back on campus and things have changed drastically due to the pandemic. This is the time to emphasize what members of the community want to do to shape their future experiences and their role on this campus.”

“A significant part of this ‘new normal’ is with DEI education,” Bates wrote. “Leadership from all 12 organizations have highlighted the need for impactful DEI education around identity, privilege, and power dynamics to enable them to better support their membership, the Lafayette community and the Easton-area.”

Ultimately, Bates noted that the biggest takeaway he has gained in his time so far at Lafayette is the large devotion students have to each other and the campus, as well as emphasizing how much he has enjoyed being able to converse with students.

“I have learned how passionate the students are and how dedicated they are to providing an incredible experience on campus,” Bates wrote. “I have enjoyed each exciting and each challenging conversation.”