• Fraternity Recruitment
    Fraternity Recruitment Thoughts from the Expansion Department of Sigma Pi Fraternity, International

It’s been another hectic summer at the Executive Office, but students are back on campus, and it’s time to send our staff back out on the road. Over the last few years, the concept of staff training has been dramatically overhauled in the Expansion Department, and I’m excited to say that I don’t think we’ve ever seen a better prepared group of new Expansion Consultants.

 

When I started working at our office, training was a little different. We sat in a conference room for ¾ of the day, listened to other staff members describe their jobs, and were expected to figure a lot of things out on our own. We were walked through the basics of a chapter visit, who to email and what to say, and then we were out on the road. This summer, we shifted the focus. Instead of regurgitating information, we decided to actually do something useful. Most of the time our consultants spend out on the road will be on college campuses, and many of the campus based professionals they will encounter will likely work in the office of student life, or fraternity & sorority life. Why not take the training opportunities to THAT space? Why not learn in an actual campus environment?

 

So with some help from our partners at universities in-and-around Nashville, we did just that. We held an all day recruitment workshop at Cumberland University, going over the entirety of an expansion project, and how our staff can make the best use of campus space. We traveled to Vanderbilt University, where the staff in their Greek Life Office educated our new consultants on building relationships with campus based professionals, best practices for scheduling a campus visit, and how to work with their office to solve problems with chapters and colonies.

 

We spent an afternoon at Middle Tennessee State University, where Theta-Omega alum Donald Abels was able to lead a similar discussion with us, while also helping us to identify and address several of the problems within our own organization and how we can work on them together. We spent some time with Paul Wydra, an alum of Delta-Zeta at University of Missouri - St. Louis, who works directly with alumni at MTSU and spoke to our new staff about communicating with and engaging our alumni volunteers. Finally, we spent an afternoon at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, meeting with the directors of several departments on campus to discuss recruiting non-traditional and first generation students, involving fraternities & sororities in non-greek events on campus, and identifying key moments within a young colony that can either make or break the organization.

 

This type of on-campus education, coupled with the extensive amount of training we do in office, will definitely become a cornerstone as we work toward a more structured, course-like training program for all new staff. While our vision is to be able to create a program that is not only engaging and beneficial to all new staff, we know that the opportunity to meet with and ask questions of campus based professionals is an important part of preparing our staff to leave Nashville and build fantastic organizations across the country.

 

It dawned on me this morning that the worst season of the year has officially begun - the “Athletic Down Season.” The Hawks just won the Stanley Cup (to my Chicago friends, good for you guys), Golden State just beat the Cavs in yet another embarrassment for the Eastern Conference, and football season is still too far away to really be talking about anything other than who MIGHT make the team this year. Even though I’m what you would probably call a “casual” sports fan, I have great reverence for the power that athletic events have to draw people together, and to bring joy to everyone, both young and old.

 

However, to be honest, I think there are some people out there who take “sports” too far. I’m not talking about those of us who cheer passionately for our teams year-in and year-out, or even an unnamed friend of mine who locks herself in her room to be free of any distraction every time she watches her team play. I’m talking about what many might call “the haters.” The ones who ruin it for the rest of us. The ones who tweet about how LeBron James is a joke or a failure and refuse to objectively acknowledge the fact that he (whether you like him or not) is breaking just about every record the NBA keeps track of.

I’m talking about the drunken middle-aged man at a football game screaming “f*** the other team!” causing some poor dad to cover his young son’s ears three seats away. I’m talking about the fans who throw beers at, or start fights with, absolute strangers for nothing more than wearing a different jersey.

At what point did objective sportsmanship find it’s way out of professional (or college) athletics? Was there one day in history that every student at my alma mater decided a friendly and competitive annual game with our cross-state rival was suddenly an excuse to throw full cans of beer at the opposing teams cheerleaders? Maybe worst of all, when did it become commonplace to become a poor role model? When did we start to encourage being a poor sport?

I love to watch a variety of sports, for a number of reasons; the thrill of that ONE goal in the World Cup, or the anticipation of a last second hail mary in the Rose Bowl. But the one thing I hate to see, and it seems to happen throughout sports, are players storming off the field after a loss, refusing to shake hands with their competitor and respectfully acknowledge their efforts. When we’re young, we’re all taught to line up after whatever game it is that we’re playing, and shake the hand of every player and coach on the opposing team.

Do you know why our parents and teachers and coaches made us do that?  It was to instill in us the
understanding that competition and rivalry are HEALTHY aspects of our life, but only when we’re capable of separating our
personal emotions from the activity on the field. Many of us played in little league and high school teams against some of our best friends, probably some that we grew up with. How would you feel when that friend stormed off and refused to speak to you after a pick-up game? Surprised? Angry? Pitiful?

 

 

Why am I on this tangent? Because I love sports, and I would hate to see poor sportsmanship ruin it for the next generation. The same is true of fraternity. At an undergraduate level, we spend so much time bickering and arguing over personal grudges, that we lose focus of the purpose and goals of our chapter. I hate to break it to you, but you're not always going to like every single one of your chapter brothers, however, you do still have to work together. Sometimes we even cast judgement on other organizations just for wearing different letters on their chest. Why? All they did was make the exact same decision you did when they joined, they just happened to hold one or two different values. As alumni, we often forget that we were once young and made mistakes, and refuse to respect and acknowledge the efforts our undergraduates are usually making behind the scenes to get better. Even at the professional level, personal differences in opinion and experience between staff, alumni, and volunteers, often lead to stagnation and nothing actually getting done, generally because we don’t agree on insignificant details or wording.

 

We each wear a different jersey, whether that be undergraduate, alumni, volunteer, professioinal, or whatever. Let's not fall into the same mistake of causing riots just because our team colors don’t match. Our teams might have different faces and different goals, but at the end of the day we’re all playing in the same league. Let’s not forget to have the same respect for someone else’s team that we want them to have for ours.

So game on everyone, we're all playing to win. Just remember to keep the shots above the belt.

I guess I need to apologize before I go any further, because some of you are not going to like what I have to say. In fact, many of you won’t.

We’ve all heard the following argument in some form. “It isn’t fair that the media portrays us so negatively, they never report on any of the good that we do. They’re so biased.” Guys, I would agree with this argument 100%, if doing good wasn’t one of the basic pillars of what Fraternity & Sorority Life is supposed to represent. This article will discuss Integrity, Honesty, Respect, and Accountability, and, if I do my job properly, will hopefully encourage each of you to look at your fraternal experience a little differently and through a wider lens. So, let’s begin.

Quick, give me the first name, last name, and alma mater of every player on the Dallas Cowboy’s starting offensive line. (If you live in and around Texas, you’re excluded from playing this game. Even you, Houston…) My guess is that, while you may be able to name one or two, getting every single one right might be difficult. Why is that? The ‘14-’15 Cowboy’s offensive line was widely regarded as one of the best in the entire league, ranking 1st in Adjusted Line Yards, 5th in Total Pressures Allowed, and tied for Fourth in Pass Blocking Efficiency. Why then, in a world where we ALL know Tony Romo’s alma mater, yards per game, TD/INT ratio, favorite color and choice in breakfast cereal, can we not even name half of these guys who made that team what they were this year?

The answer is that the men on that line did exactly what they said they were going to do. When they signed a contract with the Cowboys, it was under the premise that they would prevent the loss of yardage, slow the pass rush, and above all else, protect their quarterback. (With the exception of one or two plays that made Jerry Jones’ heart skip a beat, they did just that.)

However, what DID we hear about this year in the NFL? Numerous domestic abuse cases, violations of the league code of conduct via drug and alcohol abuse, and a quarterback in Cleveland who we’re all convinced was rolling up hundred dollar bills in the bathroom of a nightclub for the sheer fun of it…

We hear about these things because they are all blatant examples of players doing exactly what they said they wouldn’t do under contract. They all agreed to a code, and then violated that code. So, given their celebrity status and our occasionally unhealthy obsession with the sport, (I’m guilty too, don’t talk to me during Fantasy Season…) it’s only natural that we hear all about it, sometimes in painfully explicit detail.

Let’s shift gears to another frequented topic in the media, the police force. Think long and hard about the last time you knew the names and home addresses of every police officer who pulled over a drunk driver? Or the officers who patrol inner city streets? Or even those who investigate murders and other violent crimes within your city? Again, those officers are doing what they said they would do, they are protecting and serving our citizens. What we hear about, however, are the officers who violate that code. We hear about the ones who use excessive force, who discriminate based on race or color, or who ignore the civil rights of citizens in their community. These officers are tarnished, regarded as an embarrassment to the force, and made local (and sometimes national) examples of. We hear about them because they did what they said they wouldn’t do.

Are you starting to see any parallels yet? Are you able to see some of the similarities between these organizations and our own? If not, let me give you a hand. Every one of us (Sigma Pi and other organizations) agreed to something similar to the following.

  • I will respect the dignity of all persons, and therefore, I will not physically, psychologically, or sexually abuse any human being.

  • I will respect the rights of property, both others and my own; therefore, I will not, nor will I tolerate, the abuse of private or community property.

  • I will not use nor support the use of illegal drugs.

  • I will not abuse or support the abuse of alcohol.

These are some of the basic tenants of fraternity membership. These are some of the basic tenants on human civility… These are some of the ideals we agree to represent, and as such, are basic expectations of any member. What about our creed, surely there can’t be any important agreements or expectations in that, can there?

  • to advance truth and justice

  • to promote scholarship

  • to encourage chivalry

  • to diffuse culture

  • to develop character in the service of god and man

  • I will strive to make real the fraternity’s ideals

Everytime we say our creed, we reaffirm our belief that these are the most important aspects of a man’s life. We agree that we are organized as a fraternity for the purpose of enforcing each of these ideals, and thus, it should be a basic expectation that we do so.

For all of these reasons, I urge you to stop falling back on that worn out argument we discussed at the beginning of this article. The media isn’t targeting you because they want to, or because we’re the low hanging fruit of the week. The citizens of your city, your state, and your country, are calling you out for not upholding a massive part of your contract. It doesn’t matter how many hours of community service your chapter has, or how much money you’ve raised for charity if you try to use that as a reason you shouldn’t be targeted for putting the safety of your members and guests in jeopardy. You’re not going to convince anyone that the amount of time you spend cleaning highways should cancel out the fact that you haze your pledges to the point of lasting physical and psychological trauma.

Doing what you said you would do will never compensate for the violation of doing what you explicitly said you wouldn’t.

We as a fraternal community have to stop focusing on how much our “good” outweighs our “bad,” and instead start focusing on not actually having any “bad” to worry about. Maybe then, we’ll be able to be recognized for our true purpose and impact. Until then, however, we have to accept our reality and how we will continue to be perceived by our peers until we can clean up our act.

Don’t like it? Do something about it.

 

For the past two years I have had the opportunity to travel around the United States as an expansion consultant for Sigma Pi Fraternity, International. It’s been a journey, to say the least, and my battle as a road warrior is coming to an end; however, I’ve been taking the past few days to reflect on every aspect of these past two years and keeps probing me to ask myself, “what do I believe?”

 

So here it is. The list of what I’ve begun to believe in from the past two years. A disclaimer before I begin: 1) Some of these were not innately my own. With all the people I’ve come in contact with I was bound to learn a thing or two - luckily, I learned a lot more.

 

  • I Believe in Sigma Pi. There’s no greater journey a man can take than a Quest for Excellence.

  • I Believe that you have to take chances. What growth can come from being comfortable all the time?

  • I Believe organizations can change the world, and that you are a key player in that organization.

  • I Believe in being authentic and genuine. Why be somebody else?

  • I Believe that our undergraduates have just as much to teach us, as advisors can teach them.

  • I Believe that as a Fraternity man you have taken an oath to be better than the average human being. Recognize it, live it, but don’t throw it in everybody’s face.

  • I Believe in making mistakes. Personal or professional - life is a learning process

  • I Believe that everybody has a skill set and you should learn to optimize those skills.

  • I Believe that we as leaders need to understand that difference in thinking we can do ‘anything’ rather than ‘everything.’ Learn that you can’t do everything well.

  • I Believe that philanthropy and service should be at the heart of our organizations. Unfortunately, we all need to do a better job at conveying it.

  • I Believe that when we start treating our brothers as just friends, there is merit to the idea that we are “paying for our friends.”

  • I Believe that I have the worst luck when it comes to checking into Southwest flights.

  • I Believe prejudice and discrimination towards any individual has no room in our organizations, and those who don’t agree should not be a part of this organization.

  • I Believe that Fraternity is transformative. Every day you should be a bit better than yesterday and aim to be better tomorrow.

  • I Believe that as social organizations we should be striving to promote social justice.

  • I Believe in the 189 men I’ve given bids to within these past two years.

  • I Believe in the 6 colonies I’ve been able to work with.

  • I Believe in the 2 colonies I was able to assist to chartering.

  • I Believe we are heading in the right direction.

  • I Believe that I don’t have all the answers but one day I most certainly will.

 

..and wherever my future opportunities take me, I hope to Believe in more.

 

Here’s to believing in you, me, and the power of Fraternity.


MD

Page 1 of 6

About Ryan Armstrong

Ryan Armstrong

Ryan Armstrong serves as Director of Expansion of Sigma Pi Fraternity, International. Founded in 1897, Sigma Pi Fraternity is the leading, international men's collegiate fraternal organization which provides training, guidance and innovative opportunities for Leadership Development, Social and Personal Development, Academic Achievement, Community Service and Heightened Moral Awareness for its brothers throughout their lives.

Contact Ryan:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: 615.921.2300

 Facebook Icon Find Ryan on Facebook

Recommended Links:

Previous Posts

Back to Top