Every Day Greek
For the past two decades, I have been a supporter of the fraternal experience. I’m a true believer. I’m the type of true believer who can sit for hours and talk about the virtues of leadership, service, and lifelong friendship.
Maybe you are too.
But, even amongst us true believers, we have to admit last year was challenging.
Another news story, another book, another tag in the comment section making our blood boil.
Another. Another. Another.
Once more, I had to defend fraternity to skeptics and the mis-informed. I’m sure you had to also.
Since 1998, I have worn the badge of “proud fraternity man” without hesitation. You’ll find it in my bio, on every resume I’ve ever submitted, and on every social media network to which I belong. I count sorority and fraternity members as some of my closest friends and mentors.
I still cringe every time I hear someone refer to their fraternal experience in the past tense. You know, the “I was…” line? The seemingly throwaway modifier which allows them to, in one sense, belong while simultaneously distancing themselves from the current issues facing our community.
I get it. Putting one’s Greek affiliation on LinkedIn might be a conundrum; if you are in a competitive job market any potential negative feels like the biggest obstacle imaginable. But, let’s be honest, this isn’t the only reason for hidden affiliation. We have made the path to “sometimes Greek” too acceptable. We allow our friends and fellow chapter members to slide when they quietly whisper “when I was a Greek…”
Lifelong membership means membership in the past- and present-tense.
In 2018, if we want it to be better than in previous years, we need to commit ourselves to being every day Greek. I recognize the word “Greek” itself carries with it a certain stigma. We need to engage in the tough conversations with skeptics, sharing with them the virtues of our community while, honorably, accepting all of the scabs that go with it. We need to not dismiss their critiques as uninformed, even when they are, but instead, work to change the perceptions of those who doubt our viability.
Every day Greek is a challenge; it is easy to be part of a sorority or fraternity on the best days. Bid days, initiation, alumni reunions. Those are fun! What about on the hardest days? What about on the days where it would be far easier to put away our letters and un-tag ourselves from the comments section? Those are the days our organizations and fellow members need us to be present.
If 2018 is going to be better, we need to commit ourselves to being there every day. The good, the challenging, and the frustrating. We need to commit ourselves to educating the opposed, and challenging those who act in ways contrary to our values and rituals. But it can’t be only on the days where it is easy or convenient.
2018 needs to be better. Let’s all start today.