Asking why having a Ritual is important to a fraternity is like asking someone why having a heart is important to his or her livelihood. What better way to illustrate the relationship between a fraternity and its Ritual than using a pop-culture phenomenon that has once again become very near and dear to our, say, hearts? I’m talking about zombies, of course.
A fraternity’s Ritual is, in many ways, the heart of the organization. It is the one commonality that defines all fraternities while, at the same time, makes us individually unique. Our Ritual lies at our core. It is our essence that makes us who we are. Figuratively speaking, much like a person’s heart, no?
Without it, a cold, lifeless fraternity would remain. Could we still operate without one? Sure, we could still recruit members, govern according to our fraternity’s constitution, and enforce policy. No doubt from these, we could maintain some semblance of a fraternity, but to say a fraternity without a Ritual is still a fraternity would be akin to suggesting those zombies we see each week on The Walking Dead are still people. Needless to say, that would be foolish, not to mention hazardous to our health. Just as a zombie uses people merely as a means to an end (food, for instance), without a Ritual fraternities would use members merely as a means to revenue and reputation.
We would no longer care about the well being of our members nor their becoming better men or women as a result. We would no longer hold them to a higher standard of ethical and moral conduct nor expect them to have a positive impact in their communities. We would not promote pride for our history nor encourage hope for our future. We simply wouldn’t care about our members anymore than the zombie cares about its food. And just like the zombie, our only motivation would be a sort of instinctual self-preservation, resulting in a horrifying and insatiable hunger for more victims. Only our path of destruction wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining.
Obviously, I offer this analogy somewhat in jest. But there is one parallel within this analogy about which I could not be more serious: when asked why having a Ritual is important to my fraternity, I submit it is as important as it is for a person to avoid becoming a zombie. Why, you might ask? Just like the zombie, a fraternity without a Ritual faces the same inevitable conclusion – eradication.
//Associate Dir. of Leadership Development Alex Combs (Eastern Kentucky)