I leave for The Vegas next week to attend my fraternity’s 69th Biennial Grand Conclave. As the days until the event become fewer, I’ve been reflecting more and more on the impact that the fraternity has had on my life. Thusly, I’ve decided that today is Story Day! So snag a snack, get comfy and enjoy the tale.
It was a balmy September day of 2004, and it was the first year on Student Government for Brian, a bright, eager and overzealous Junior at the University of Michigan-Flint. A new student organization was trying to form, and was having some difficulty getting traction. As an officer, Brian was in the midst of the conversations about the organization. It was discovered that the club was a fraternity attempting to charter on campus. Because there was no Greek Life Office or Director on campus, and no policies or procedures on how to handle new Greek organizations, it had been decided to have Student Government oversee the approval process. After two weeks of debating, it was decided to deny approval on the basis that their membership requirements violated the non-discrimination clause that Student Government adamantly upheld with all student organizations. Brian had no qualms in denying them, not only for the legitimate reasons, but because he found the existing fraternities on campus unrefined, too social, and extremely stereotypical; what benefit could be attained by adding another fraternity to the ranks?
The name of the organization?…The Star and Crescent Club
Chapter 2: THE KICKOFF
A month later, Student Government was informed that the university and fraternity had come to an agreed approval procedure that did not involve Student Government and thus dropped off the radar for the student body leaders. Then in the first few chilly weeks of 2005, Brian was approached by an old friend who wanted him to join the fraternity. Brian emphatically said no, spouting out every excuse in the books from buying friends to drinking too much to the “Animal House” stereotype. For the next few weeks, Brian desperately tried to avoid their recruiting table. The guys in the fraternity, however were persistent and had other priorities. On a daily basis they rooted out where Brian was and continued to attempt to recruit him. Finally, he agreed to sit down with the representative from the fraternity to talk about his hesitation about joining and hoping to avoid more recruiting tactics. Alas, it did not work. Over the course of the next two weeks the headquarters representative continued to have conversations with Brian to attempt to convince him to join. Finally, Brian agreed to temporarily join, and that the pledging fee of $35 would at least give him an opportunity to see what it was like. So, a few weeks later, on May 6, 2005 Brian joined 27 other guys in the Colony Kickoff for the University of Michigan-Flint Colony of Kappa Sigma Fraternity.
Chapter 3: THE COLONY
His anticipation of “temporary membership” went out the window shortly after he joined. Right from start, Brian was active in the fraternity receiving his first position during the Colony Kickoff. As a student leader it was in his character to participate and take charge. Thusly, over the next two years, Brian took on several leadership roles in the Colony as it moved towards its charter. At some point in time a fire grew within, the then Honors Senior, for the fraternity and he stayed with it through thick and thin, negative bank accounts, mis-managed time, and personal and colony drama to ultimately see the petition for chartering be submitted. Then on March 31, 2007, only six days before the two year deadline to charter hit, the Colony was granted their chapter letters and became the Omicron Rho Chapter of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Unfortunately, Brian was in Minneapolis at the time and was initiated two weeks later, the day before he graduated.
Chapter 4: THE VOLUNTEERING
Once Brian graduated, while sad to see that chapter in his life close, he knew it was in good hands. He took on advising his home chapter for some time, and then was asked to be the advisor for the Northwood Colony at Northwood University. Brian continued to learn from volunteering and found a joy with working with the undergraduate brothers which supplemented his love for his career in Student Affairs. Then after a few years of volunteering, he was asked to take a larger role and serve on a state wide level, where he finds himself today.
Chapter 5: THE FUTURE
Its the future…who knows?
So, I hope you enjoyed this little story. I honestly never saw myself going Greek, let alone devoting my spare time as an alum to growing my fraternity, however the fire that I discovered in my undergrad days has never stopped burning.
I mentioned before, as the days have become fewer to the Biennial Meeting, I’ve been reflecting on my experience with my fraternity. I can say that because of Kappa Sigma; I have grown into a stronger person and leader through so many different experiences; I have had the honor of helping generations that follow become better men and have had the privilege to see the growth and change (for the better) in so many individuals; and I have grown to love the profession that I have chosen, so much more because of my life as a Kappa Sigma.
Above all, though, the thing that my fraternity did for me, was giving me a family when my own wasn’t there for me. I was asked to leave my childhood home during my undergrad years during a period of life choice experimentation. Without knowing why I moved out, my fraternity brothers were there for me. Then, when I came out shortly after I graduated, my brothers were still there for me, and even more so when my family stepped out of my life for a while.
Yes, there are highs and lows, good and bad, positives and negative of Greek Life, just like in every other student organization, club or team. Nothing is perfect and I won’t say Greek Life is, but its the journey and life/self lessons that Greek Life can and has offered many individuals over the decades. Its that journey and those lessons that are the true benefit of being Greek. For me, Greek Life has given me that opportunity to learn while on such a journey.
What Kappa Sigma has done for me and continues to do for me is worth way more that that $35 fee that began me on this journey and I would never change my decision. I can’t even think of the alternate universe where I don’t proudly wear my Star and Crescent.
I’m not trying to sell people on going Greek or trying to rush anyone for my fraternity, right now. I just felt like sharing my story during a significant time in my fraternity’s biennial cycle and to show the positive impact that it has had on me.
To my brothers, AEKDB and I’ll see you in The Vegas!
Until next time!
Peace, Love and Pandas!