Written by: Tim Hudson, Truman State ’97
We’ve had a lot of successes this past year in Phi Kappa Tau. But among the most important of these to me has been the number of young men who participated in leadership or educational programing sponsored by our Fraternity and our Foundation. These programs are designed to educate young men in leadership styles, helping them identify strengths and areas for improvement, teaching how to work as a team to accomplish goals, empowering them to challenge their membership, and leading us on a path consistent with being Men of Distinction. Our Presidents Academy, Regional Conferences and Leadership Academies are focused on the undergraduate leader.
During Session III of this year’s Leadership Academies, a number of undergraduates decided to disregard the known expectations of the program. These men made a choice to acquire and consume alcohol on site during the Academy. Alcohol is not only banned from this program—and has been for more than 20 years—but also was prohibited at the facility hosting the Academy.
To be fair, some of the participants were not involved nor aware of the actions. Others
were aware and decided to look the other way. Unfortunately, a large number of men breached the policy. When the problem was discovered, we made the decision to cancel the event and send the men home.
Was this an unprecedented move within our Fraternity programming? Yes.
Is it regrettable that these Leadership Academy attendees missed a valuable leadership development experience? Indeed, it was.
Was it a moment that called for tough decision-making and provided an opportunity to demonstrate accountability to our membership? Absolutely.
Each participant was required to participate in an investigation led by his local alumni Board of Governors. Reports of involvement and accountability measures were reported to the Fraternity staff and shared with the National Council.
This incident, while unfortunate and isolated in our history, provided us a moment for reflection, tested the resolve of leadership to hold its membership accountable, and provided an opportunity for each young man present to learn a lesson about understanding expectations and accepting responsibility for his actions and those of his brothers.
I am grateful for the honest approach taken by our members and the seriousness with which our volunteers have addressed individual concerns. I expect that all our members—undergraduates and alumni alike—will have those difficult conversations about setting expectations for their brothers and holding each other accountable.
It’s the only way we will go far in achieving Phi, Kappa and Tau.
This article appears in the December 2017 issue of the Laurel, which can be viewed online, in its entirety, at phikappatau.org/laurel.