By Drew Logsdon (Western Kentucky)
Let us imagine for a moment that you are a potential new member going through recruitment at your university. It’s now bid day and you have accepted a bid from a chapter that you feel really good about. You’ve attended their recruitment events and throughout have heard the words brotherhood and values so many times that it rings in your ears. You show up to the chapter house for the first meeting with the rest of your fellow new members and are asked to sign the following form:
“I ___NAME__ do hereby agree to participate in __ORGANIZATION___’s new member process. I understand that during this process I will be expected to abide by the values and expectations of this organization including but not limited to: performing menial tasks and chores for initiated members such as cleaning rooms and/or running errands, drinking high volumes of alcohol for the entertainment of others, forgoing involvement in other student organizations to be present at the chapter house for twelve hours each day, showing servility to individuals who do not respect me and who are not worthy of respect, driving older members to and from bars after midnight when they are drunk, reporting to the chapter house every Thursday night for “call downs” for verbal abuse, memorizing important facts such as a 6th year Senior’s major, wearing a suit and tie every Monday while members wear shorts and cut-off t-shirts, performing calisthenics to teach me how to be tough – because fraternity life is very physically demanding, and showing an overall disregard for my own dignity to become the subjugated second-class citizen of such a prestigious organization.”
Sounds like a world of fun for the next few months, right? Of course this is a satirical consent form, but what if your chapter had to create a consent form? What would it say? Would it resemble this document? Chapters oftentimes use their values in the recruitment process but those values sometimes fade to the backburner as soon as the new member process begins. As you can see above, these requirements take a nose dive off the cliff of fraternity into the abyss of modern day second-class citizenship and borderline depravity.
Keep in mind, none of the above activities came out of a vacuum. They are activities that groups are caught implementing on a far too regular basis. These are also the types of activities that are used as ammunition when the arguments against the validity and purpose of Greek life are made.
Now there is nothing wrong with having requirements and expectations of new members for any organization. But at the end of the day we must look critically at everything in our new member program and ask ourselves some serious questions concerning it.
1. Does this activity/requirement/expectation serve a genuine purpose?
2. Does this activity/requirement/expectation align with the Vision, Mission, Values, and founding principles of my fraternity?
3. Does this activity/requirement/expectation extend beyond the time as a new member and hold true for initiated members or even increase for initiated members?
If your chapter can legitimately answer “Yes” and provide rationale for every question above, then you’re on the right track. However, a single “No” means your chapter has left the realm of manhood and fraternity to enter the wilderness of childish behavior. It should go without saying that in Sigma Nu we have no kiddie table for your chapter to sit at.