Categories
Brotherhood

Think to Your Beginnings

The Blog has returned!

It’s been awhile since The Blog has been posting, and what better way to start of this great new revival with talking about where it all began, talking about our foundations and our beginnings.

The whole culture of Fraternity and Sorority Life is centered around our foundations and beginnings, those first groups of women and men who said “Let’s start something different.” on college campuses across the country. Those men and women created organizations built on strong foundations and values which have transcended the decades into our organizations today.

Or at least they should.

Because it’s easy to forget our beginnings sometimes. They get bogged down by the weight of what is currently happening, what is being done in the present moment, and the “trends” that might be happening in our community. But sometimes these things are so far from our values and beliefs that our true purpose, our true core, becomes clouded and we have to do a lot of soul-searching and digging to find it again.

How do we avoid all of that? Because let’s be honest, it’s not the best thing to do.

Well we prevent ourselves from getting there in the first place. We reminder ourselves “Dose this align with the values and foundations of my organization?” or “Would my founders be proud of what I am doing right now?”

Every action has a series of choices and consequences that we must face in the aftermath of our actions.

So remember your beginnings. Don’t let them get bogged down by what is popular or what other people are doing.

Be different. Be unique. Be your values.

Fraternally,

Brother Lemos

Categories
Brotherhood Leadership Recruitment

the Senioritis Curse

Membership development is a hot topic in the world of fraternity/sorority life. People are starting to ask questions about how we continue to grow our members as they move their time in their chapter and eventually move on to being alumni. Now more than ever national directors, college administrators, and members alike are asking what can be done to sustain members throughout their undergraduate tenure in their organization. My question is how do we utilize senior brothers.

Senior year of college has been one of the most stressful years in my matriculation. I am in the most advanced classes offered in my chosen discipline, my involvement continues to be high, and I am tasked with the gargantuan task of figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life. It’s a lot too handle and it has made me reevaluate what is most important to me.

The area where I have the most control over my circumstances is my participation in clubs/organizations. In a time where I am making important decisions that will determine the course of my life for the next few year, the endeavors that used to occupy my days seem trivial and almost frivolous. And something that has been such a big part of my college experience, namely fraternity life, has become part of that list.

I’ve heard it and seen it before. Senioritis sets in and seniors stop caring about pretty much everything, but this is not that. My love for my chapter is unwavering but for the first time in my membership I feel absolutely useless. I feel like I serve no purpose. I am no longer an executive. I am not essential. I am a member without a cause.

Senior members are some of the most underutilized participants across the board. From others in the organization and they themselves, the notion of “this doesn’t matter … I’m graduating” runs rampant. This excuse of graduating from both us and those who fail to use us is wholly detrimental. Until we walk across the stage on commencement day we can be useful, so use us.

But in that same way don’t use us and throw us away. We deserve better than that. We’ve given our all in our membership and somewhere, deep on down there, we still want to. Recognize us and make us feel seen, heard, and valued.

We’re not motivated to do anything or to contribute productively. Recruitment for example – what’s the point? We’ll spend less than a semester with these new members before departing, the possibility of lowered dues won’t take effect until after we’ve graduated, and our interactions with underclass-peoples are pointedly limited. Of course the answer to that question is rhetorical – it’s what we signed up for, what we promised when we joined, and part of what it means to be a member. However, those brash and brazen heartstring-pulling sentiments have lost their resonance. We’re cynical, tired, and beyond rousing motivational speeches, scare tactics, and incentives. So how can we be helped?

It’s on us AND on you to make our last semester worthwhile.

Seniors

  • You’re not too old or too good to participate in events, programs, or meetings
  • Give the proper respect to your executives and fellow members – no one needs to earn from you, it’s mandatory
  • Embrace change – yearning for how things “used to be done” can be derailing; bring insight but refrain from stifling new ideas and opinions
  • PARTICIPATE – bring your whole self, show up on time, and stay to clean up; prove yourself
  • Stop blaming the future for why you aren’t living in the present – you have more time to offer than you let on

We’re a tricky bunch. We know we can still do amazing things but it doesn’t seem like anyone needs us to do so. Need us, ask for help from us, and let us teach you what we’ve learned. Make us matter! If you let us fall by the wayside that is how we will depart and that’s no way to leave a relationship that’s supposed to last a lifetime.

Members

  • Give us things to do and things we actually care about –  you should know us best so keep us involved by assigning tasks that we have always loved doing
  • Avoid belittling us – menial tasks are a no-go; we want purpose
  • Hold us accountable – if we’re flaky, disinterested, or bring a bad attitude; call us out and remind us how much we used contribute positively
  • Know our constituency – we’re not new members, nor are we your average member – treat us as we are (members who are unfortunately moving on)
  • Show your appreciation for us – thank you’s and expressions of gratitude go a long way; we will not be here forever – be good to us while you can

I love my chapter – that will always remain true but if you really think I am invaluable treat me as such before it’s too late. If you want me to come back, to donate my time or money, and to stay in touch this is the most important to make me feel wanted, needed, and appreciated. We’re your senior brothers but we’ll be alumni soon.

How do you keep your senior members engaged?

Brother Oteng

Categories
Brotherhood

Social Education

Why am I still in my fraternity? Throughout various points of my college experience the answer would be completely different. Now as a senior the answer is one a combination of old (friends, stability, social clout, etc.) and one strikingly new – I’m needed to teach.

What I mean by that is that fraternities now more than ever have become imperative for the environments they can provide. An atmosphere in which men let their guard down, open their ears, and speak candidly is much needed. It is no longer acceptable for men, as social power-holding individuals and as a collective to sit idle – unmoved, unbothered, and uninterested in the plight of all those around us. I realized that a fraternity may just very well be the ONE place where men are obligated to stop taking up so much space, to leave their patriarchic ideals at the door, and to have real, vulnerable, authentic conversations about how they view themselves and society. Combine that with the values we swear to uphold and you have the perfect and crucially necessary critical mass to get major social points across. I solemnly swear that I have learned more in my time in college from extracurriculars and organizations than I ever did in the classroom – social education.

Fraternities are supposed to be places where men grow, learn, and connect not only to their brothers and the Greek community they’re apart of but society as a whole. When you emerge from your alma mater you should be prepared to face the world and that means each and everyone in it – with dignity, respect, and fairness. My fraternity preaches brotherhood for all, service to the individual, and democracy – well, that entails literally everyone, and that’s deeply important. The way I treat and interact my brothers is how I should any stranger I may come across. That’s truly profound. How can I apply the same compassion, and camaraderie of people I spent substantial time with to someone I may not know at all? Easy – remember when a new member would join your chapter and instantaneously you had this connection with them? You could joke around, hang out without knowing anything about them, and accepted them as your friend – that quick lesson in social education as in that ability to immediately value a person is one that you must know. You’ll need to apply that to just about anyone you meet because that’s what it means to be HUMAN. We all have immeasurable worth and inherent value – don’t ever forget that.

So what do I teach? My membership in specifically my chapter I think has come to mean a lot. Along with me comes all my experiences, what I’ve learned, and all my complications. Those complications particularly those that challenge my brothers to think about their unearned social privileges, how they’ve played into and benefitted from -ist systems/institutions, and most importantly how they can be allies to subordinated identities, mean more now than ever before. Fraternities are the place to have tough conversations, check yourselves, explore topics, share your beliefs, and to learn about yourselves but also the world around you. The other stuff supports it like understanding how to be a lifelong friend, and doing service of our own volition. With or without brothers who identify as queer, transgender, person of color, modest income, have a disability etc. your fraternity is where you have the freedom and the obligation to talk about what it all means.

Talk about the stuff you usually don’t. Be curious about sexism, racism, homophobia, religious intolerance, and all the rest. Figure out what you can actually do about it. Realize that all of it AFFECTS you too, maybe not negatively but then you’re indicted as benefitting from the putting down of others. I don’t know about you but that’s unacceptable. I promised to be a better man, and in this modern day and age (as it should have always been) that means embracing social justice.

Fraternally Yours,

Brother Oteng

How does your chapter incorporate social justice into their lived values?

Categories
Brotherhood Recruitment

The Power of Why

Why.

 

One word. One syllable. Three letters. I believe it’s one of the first words we have an understanding of even from the earliest age. When we’re young, beginning to explore and understand the big world around us, we as “Why is the sky blue?”, “Why is the grass green?”, “Why can’t I have another cookie?”. As we get older, questioning not only the world but ourselves, why begins to take on a stronger role; “Why can’t I find a date?”, “Why did I procrastinate?”, “Why do I even bother?”.

 

With Fraternity and Sorority Life, “why” is much more than just a question,  it it a reflection of oneself to others. During my first semester as an active member in Phi Mu Delta, I have asked so many potential new members why they would like to be a part of the FSL community. “I want to get more involved.” “I like the community.” “I want to be involved in all the great parties”. There are many other responses, some genuine and some hot off the cookie cutter assembly line. Regardless of any response, the why is always a one way street question; I ask, the potential new member responds, and we start a conversation based off their response.

 

Until last Friday.

 

After having finished a fantastic pasta dinner cooked by Joey Oteng, he, Zach (a recent alum), Cam (a first year for Joey’s orientation group and a PNM), and I sat around the small little table in Zach and Joey’s apartment, chatting about life, starting a fraternity on campus, and FSL in general terms. That’s when Cam surprised the three of us with a question, “What’s your WHY?”

 

It was the first time, at least for me, that someone had genuinely asked me for my why in becoming a brother. Most times, I’d just share a watered down version with PNM’s after we talk about their why, but never had I been directly asked to share. It was a profound moment for me because share our why, the people who have already gone through the process, could be a launch point for someone interested in become a part of our community. They could have a thousand reasons they might want to join, but sharing our personal story, that what drives it home for most.

 

So remember your whys. Share them with those willing to listen and those willing to understand. Who know what will happen

 

Don’t Forget to Stay Awesome,

 

Brother Lemos