DKA, a national organization that includes the genre for the film arts, demands that its members not shy away from adversity, but be malleable and adapt to changing circumstances.
I promised DKA in my sophomore year and went through a rigorous process of weekly meetings and projects, each designed to build fraternal ties and teach values such as honesty, trustworthiness, and generosity. After six weeks of this, I was accepted as a new chapter member and happy to finally take on all the responsibilities that come with active membership.
Then the other shoe fell: the need to take an official exam, which measured how ready new members were to become nationally recognized active members. I studied hard, took the exam, and finally celebrated my formal entry into the fraternity, as DKA celebrated its new national status.
But the real test of my adaptability came last year, when I became president of the DKA chapter.
While this quote was an honor, it was somewhat surprising. And this happened before the spring semester was interrupted by a global pandemic. Two months after my new leadership role, Covid-19 led to the closure of my university campus and the increase of virtual classes in our respective dormitories across the country.
With our 70 members now separated, many questions got big. We had several major events scheduled for the second half of the semester: our spring retreat weekend, usually just outside of Boston; our annual formal white carnation dance; and DKA's bi-annual production weekend, during which we would film a short film or narrative project in 48 hours.
All these events would have to be canceled, despite the many hours of work that our organizers dedicated to organizing them. But how would we stay connected in the absence of these important events, or without our weekly in-person meetings?
And could we open our new class? If we didn't, what would the fraternity's future be like if my younger classmates were finally able to return to campus?
To maintain a certain appearance of normality, we moved our weekly chapter meetings, which focus on classifying the organization's business, to Zoom. Our new Vice President managed to organize virtual elections for the fall semester through a combination of Zoom, Google forms and a heroic amount of patience.
When we weren't serving DKA's business, we worked on organizing fun virtual events, like Netflix party visits, using software that allows multiple people to watch the same Netflix show and comment in real time. We also use our own DKA Discord Server, a message board platform exclusively for our members, and a Minecraft video game server, which we aptly call DeKaCraft.
And, most impressive, with the help and guidance of our national offices, we organized a remote version of the national exam that our new class of members would take to become official members. Surprisingly, everyone approved of the first attempt, and we celebrate its success with a Zoom call and plan to remedy the anticlimactic end of the semester when we can all meet in person again.
Two and a half months later, I have now graduated from college, becoming an Emerson and DKA student at the same time. While I missed the opportunity to formally say goodbye to my classmates and fraternity brothers, I am thankful that we were able to persist in the face of drastic change, and even managed to support each other remotely.
My only hope is to be able to take adaptability lessons to the next phase of life this fall, when I move to New York with three of my fraternity brothers looking for employment opportunities in the entertainment industry.