W^H? The Holmes Murphy Blog

  • Bridge Building

    I’m new to the Holmes Murphy team, but I’ve spent my higher education career working on college campuses and for a men’s national fraternity in the prevention area, as well as speaking across this great country. Truth is…I love college students. When I was a college student — albeit decades ago — I was fascinated with the process of growing up, and I still have that same fascination and curiosity. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity with the Holmes Murphy Fraternal Practice to work with our fraternal clients to align philosophy, policy, and educational initiatives.

    Recently, the Holmes Murphy Fraternal Practice sponsored a session at the Association of Fraternity Advisors Annual Meeting in Boston. Dr. Linda Langford presented to more than 75 fraternity and sorority headquarters staff members who work in the programming areas of leadership, prevention, and chapter education. I’ve known Dr. Langford for more than a decade, and she’s the smartest woman I know. For 90 minutes, she dropped some serious knowledge and I get the privilege of sharing some of her insights and thoughts.

    College students are riskier than the general population, which results in fraternities being perceived as risky. There’s tons of research to support that. In the world of insurance, we have to understand that. In response to that, many headquarters have hired staff to serve in the role of prevention.

    What is prevention? Well, Dr. Langford provided a great “outside-the-box” example. I’m going to do my best to mimic her on this one.

    Let’s say you’re fishing next to a stream and someone falls in. Naturally, adrenaline kicks in and you pull them out. Moments later, someone else comes by, falls in, and, again, you pull them out. This pattern continues…which begs the question, “What’s happening?” So you take the time to walk upstream. There you see people clinging to branches over the stream, and you quickly work to help them out.  You continue your trip upstream, and you see a tiny, narrow bridge that is slippery with no rail. That’s where people are falling in. So you need to quickly head that way, respond, and intervene early — but you also have to repair the bridge to prevent people from falling in. By definition, prevention is the art of trying to get upstream and stop the problems from occurring by reducing risk factors and promoting protective factors.

    In all fairness, prevention is hard. It takes time and you have to ask some critical questions. What’s the problem we’re trying to solve? You must accurately identify the real problem…not the symptoms. When you put something in place to solve the problem, will it work? Is there any research or logic indicating your solution will fix the problem? Problems are complex with multiple causes. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution. The Public Health Model and Dr. Langford remind us to focus on the issue — in the example above it was the bridge, not the actual incidents that were happening — to solve the problem.

    I’m grateful for my new role. Fraternity and sorority claims are a daily thing for our fraternal practice. How great is it they have an education group solely focused on avoiding claims…trying to move upstream? I’m really excited to be part of it!  I’m looking forward to the opportunities ahead, and I look forward to some bridge building with all of you in 2017!

    If you have any questions for me now or just want to get to know me a little better, feel free to comment below or reach out to me directly. I’d love to hear from you!

    Published on: 12.29.16