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?

Brotherhood Community Leadership


Almost a week ago today, I had the opportunity to partake in an event that truly impacted my life. CLIMB, the UVM Fraternity and Sorority Life Social Justice retreat allowed me to meet and build so many new bonds with my brothers and sisters in FSL, but also opened my eyes and made me stop and think about my role in the communities that I am a part of. It made me think about my values, those that have been instilled upon me by the teachings of others and the ones that I have created in my own personal growth.  I had no clue what I was getting into when I first signed up for this even at my first chapter meeting in February, but now have had the time to let the lessons of that event sink in, I can honestly say it was the best spur of the moment decision that I’ve made.

You Are Always Wearing Your Letters – video

One of the goals of CLIMB is that the lessons in leadership, social justice, and the living of our values be brought back to our fraternities and sororities.

LEADERSHIP: That’s easy. Knowing who you personal are as a leader. Stepping up to take and active role in the leadership of the fraternity, even if you don’t have a position. One of the core values that Phi Mu Delta believes in is democracy. In a democracy, everyone is a leader and everyone has a voice. Every voice is valuable and as I like to say when it comes to voting and playing an active role in the decision making process, you can’t complain if you don’t let your voice be heard.

SOCIAL JUSTICE: This one, in my opinion, is a little bit trickier. The main goal is to make us aware of the personal biases and even stereotypes that might just happen without us even knowing it. The first step is always admitting that something is wrong. Also, educating ourselves on the way that we can potential help others become aware of their bias and being an ally for every person, regardless of color, race, creed, or position.

This last one, VALUES, is a little bit harder. First we have to address our values. And not only the values that we say at the end of every chapter meet, but also the ones that we carry with us in our everyday lives. It is when those personal, public values become intertwine with the values that we hold as brothers of Phi Mu Delta, do we get to the true point of CLIMB. When we start living all of our values, and our fellow brothers and sisters begin to live their values, then a web is built, one that is shown to the community and says, “We are Greek Life and this is what we TRUELLY believe!”

Climb 2

It is then that we can begin to build a wall, not one that divides, but lifts all of us up to a higher standard that we as fraternity men and sorority women put ourselves to.

It is then that a new, positive light can be shed on the stereotype that surrounds fraternity and sorority life.

It is then that CLIMB and its goals have done it job in building a better FSL community


Don’t Forget to Stay Awesome,

Brother Lemos