It’s not my job to tell you what to be thankful for, so I’ll suggest three things instead.
Whether you are a student, alumnus or professional within the field of Greek Life, listed below are three things we are all aware of, but which rarely receive as much credit as they deserve.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and please feel free to share what (and perhaps “who” specifically) you are thankful for in the comments below (now through Facebook!).
The Constitution of the United States of America, the birthplace of modern fraternities, enshrined the right of an individual to associate as they please. Initially designed to reduce the likelihood of the U.S. government aligning with any one sect of Christianity in persecution of the others, the first amendment has broadened in meaning over the years to protect any association. . . even those the majority deems “vile.”
We fraternity men don’t always consider our organizations vile, but we should be proud and thankful that what we believe to be right is protected despite a supposedly biased media and hundreds of biased college/university administrations.
Freedom protects your right to be a part of the affiliations of your choosing – whether they be religious, scientific, philosophical, romantic or professional. Even if there are some poorly-supported excuses to prevent that from happening at campuses across the country, there are also many organizations and individuals fighting to maintain your freedom.
Legislation is in the works to ensure due process for collegiate organizations so that we may never suffer from the Virginia Complex again. Now may also be a good time to plug the good work of FIRE. Check them out.
Consultants are not your enemy. There are likely some bad eggs, but consultants deal with a whole bunch of crap and get very little in terms of reward. (Campus professionals, volunteers, organizational leaders – pay attention).
These are men and women who live and breathe their organization and are willing to work for the equivalent of $3-$7 an hour (given the hours required of the job) to travel the country and help other chapters of their organization.
Fresh out of college, they serve as the representative face of their organization, they receive unfiltered criticism from students, campus professionals and volunteers regarding their organizations AND they are typically the lowest rung on the totem poll at any given headquarters.
I’ve had a unique and wonderful pleasure of hiring and working with some brilliant, talented men who travel for my Fraternity. The least I can do is thank all men and women who have committed to something they believe in via a blog post. We can all do our part. Consulting for your fraternity (or serving to grow one’s fraternity) should be an opportunity to develop one’s professional skills.
Instead of complaining about a traveling staff member or holding them to standards you’d hold a CEO to, recognize that they are trying to learn how to be professional and likely have more demanded of them than many if not most other entry-level positions. Develop them; don’t just bring them down or gossip about them to your friends.
Working for my fraternity has also given me a unique opportunity to communicate with our National Historian. There are hundreds of historians appointed at chapters across the country and the position is often treated as a joke, both by those appointing the position and those appointed to the position.
There is an old saying that History Repeats Itself. It’s absolutely true, and giving more credit or expecting more out of your historian may prevent your chapter from falling off the edge.
I had a prediction while a student at my alma mater that the trajectory for Fraternities there was Obscurity, followed by Growth, followed by Awards, followed by success in Sports, followed by Shrinkage/Drugs & Closure. I witnessed several organizations follow, and continue to follow, that trend.
Being aware of such traps; however, allows us to learn from them.
Take our Founding Fathers for example (not just mine, but any organization’s). We play them up to be wise, professional saints who didn’t expect our organizations to become party clubs. That said, most organizations started as ways to evade campus curfews and the entire collegiate experience has shifted to which school has the best parties or rock walls.
History repeats itself and knowing history gives perspective to recurring problems. It also allows us to cherish what we had.
I’m thankful that so much of my fraternity experience can be observed through Facebook posts and interactions with brothers during my college years. There’s nothing wrong with having vivid proof of memories which may otherwise be forgotten (unless you are a terrible person whose done terrible things).
That’s it, those are three simple things to be thankful for this holiday. Cherish your freedom; support your consultants; take seriously your historian.