By: Expansion Coordinator Alex Koehler, Mount Union ’07

Let’s play out a scenario.

You’re an upperclassman. You’re not only a chapter leader, but a campus leader, as well. You joined Phi Tau as a freshman or a sophomore. Why did you join?

Each of us can still point back to the moment when we went from interested to associated. For those of us who didn’t think we would join a fraternity (like me!), that was a really bizarre moment, wasn’t it? For me, it was standing in my dorm room, talking to Andrew Youtz, Mount Union ’06. Then it was Ryan Shannon, Mount Union ’06, welcoming me into what would become one of the most influential phases of my life. It was the opportunity I saw to be a champion—not in a sport, but in life.

So why did you join?  

  • People—Someone addressed your concerns through word or deed; someone showed you what it really means to be a fraternity man
  • Experience—The chapter you joined offered an experience that you found attractive
  • Opportunity—The opportunity you saw in joining was too good to pass up; maybe you were even a founding father
  • Values—The values of the other men were so strong and upstanding that you thought yourself blessed to have a common bond; they were the best men you had ever met

What happens when the “why you joined” changes in your chapter? Here’s what I mean:

New officers have been elected. The dynamics change. The chapter starts to lose the demeanor that made you want to join in the first place. Part of the chapter (hopefully your part) wants to fulfill Phi Kappa Tau’s purpose. Another part wants to focus on throwing the biggest and most outrageous parties on campus. Yet another part wants the associates to “earn” their place in the chapter. There is another group of members who just don’t seem to care. It seems that everything you believe in is being violated by people who, frankly, just don’t get it. You know deep down that their actions, without being addressed, are grounds for corrective action—possibly a chapter closure or membership review, but the worst case scenario is someone getting hurt.

What would you do? You’ve really only got two options:

Do something about it. Or don’t.

The mission of Phi Kappa Tau is to champion a lifelong commitment to brotherhood, learning, ethical leadership and exemplary character. This statement is the essence of everything that we do.

  • Does throwing the most outrageous parties fit into our mission? I’m a huge advocate of social events, but how does “ethical leadership” apply to breaking risk management policies? Or laws for that matter?
  • Do members skipping class because they are hung over or just lazy demonstrate the “learning” we so highly value?
  • Does making the associate members “earn” their initiation promote
    “exemplary character?” (As a side note, “making them earn it” is the easy way of saying “I can’t connect with our members on a deeper level or inspire them through words or actions, so let’s haze them.”)
  • Better yet, does demeaning or physically abusing people align with “brotherhood?”

For the good of the order, when these situations that require ethical leadership arise—DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Here are some ways you can make positive change, even when making change is hard.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman, if you’re graduating in May or if you’re an alumnus. When we accepted that bid, it became our problem to address. The best news is that there are allies all around you. Who are they? Other undergraduates? Alumni? Board of Governors members? Domain Directors? Campus professionals? Identify the people with similar ideals and engage them in a conversation. Be leaders. Create a plan of action. Address the need that exists. Together, figure out how to effectively tackle the issues. For the good of the order, step up.

Phi Kappa Tau needs you.

(This blog was inspired by Seth Godin’s article “Speechless”)

Resources:
Introducing Change
Risk Management Policy
Purpose Statements