Southern Style keeps tradition alive
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 01:10
Every year, chosen student leaders on campus will wear gold polyester blazers, live on campus during the summer semester and represent the University of Southern Mississippi. On the outside, it appears the crew of Southern Style are mere members of another campus organization, but Assistant Director of First Year Initiative Ronnie Hebert says it is more than that; it is an opportunity to guide future leaders of the university and help new students transition to life at USM.
Southern Style, formerly known as The YellowJackets, was formed in 1950 by social fraternities and the Student Council. They acted as student hosts of campus guests and assumed responsibility for promoting the college traditions of friendliness, democratic principles, gentlemanly conduct (originally a male-only organization), school loyalty and student responsibility, according to “The Drawl,” the USM student handbook.
Other traditions included orientations for freshmen and transfer students, operating pep rallies and shaving the heads of new freshmen males, but the last two are no longer requirements.
Over 60 years later, Southern Style has changed quite a bit but still maintains its tradition of serving USM’s student body. Once a year, students go through a series of auditions to become members of the organization. Members are selected in November and begin a one-year commitment in January. One of the first responsibilities as a member is completing a three hour credit course in the spring semester in which members learn the proper orientation and counseling skills required for mentoring new students.
They also work graduation, attend seminars and serve as orientation leaders for summer previews, including priority preview, freshmen preview and transfer preview. Southern Style is a paid position.
According to Hebert, Southern Style members will be more active in the coming years compared to the past.
“We’re hoping to increase the role by getting them to communicate through more passages,” Hebert said. “From the time they first step on Southern’s campus, the members will guide them through their first year.”
Southern Style seeks individuals who possess leadership qualities, communication skills, friendly and approachable personalities and, most importantly, a passion for Southern Miss.
Hebert served on the 2006 Southern Style team.
“Being able to share my love and passion to the future of the university and help them in transition is absolutely incredible,” Hebert said.
Southern Style 2012 member and senior exercise science major Chad Lyman said his experience was “life-changing.”
“From the remarkable friendships that I made on the team to the students who I was able to encounter throughout the summer, I wouldn’t change a thing,” Lyman said. “My life has truly been changed for the better, and I’m so thankful for everything this summer.”
For more information about joining Southern Style, visit http://www.usm.edu/southern-style-2013. Applications are due Nov. 2 by 5 p.m.