Fraternity life hasn’t been doing so hot these days. One glimpse through Google search results for “fraternity” will tell you that. On the institutional and national scale, our organizations are taking a beating for actions contrary to our espoused values.
Each day, I begin my work by reviewing fraternity headlines; it’s important to me to not get stuck in my campus bubble and stay abreast of issues that might be coming my way. This year, with every new fraternity headline, I feel a little more frustrated, wondering if the work I or any of my counterparts at the campus, headquarters or volunteer level matters.
That was not how I felt after I finished Max Fowler’s article The Truth about Pledging the day after it was published. I remember feeling frustrated as he related his initial experience with South Carolina Alpha. And, then as I read further, I choked up (I still do) when I read about how he said “yes” to the challenge of fraternity, to the daunting path of reestablishing a values-based, balanced chapter.
I sent Max an email, thanking him for his bravery in writing the article, and even more so, for his bravery in sticking with a chapter after so many others abandoned it. But, in my heart, I knew that the work he did, work that so few collegians may have the stomach for, deserved more than just an email. So, I reached out to SigEp Headquarters to see how I could support the chapter further through some ongoing contribution and ended up pledging my support for part of the Tragos Quest to Greece.
Why did I give? I’m not a SigEp and don’t have a SigEp chapter on my campus. But, still, after reading Max’s story, it was important, almost imperative, for me to give. Why?
Because Max is a man of virtue. He didn’t continue down the path that had been laid for him, one of mistreatment and disrespect for others; he chose a different path, one which demonstrated his high moral standards and desire to be better than the status quo.
Because Max is a man of diligence. It could have been easy for Max to throw in the towel like the others. But, instead, he and Zach began the hard work of reestablishing a chapter. It’s a task that is hard to do when a group has been gone, even harder to do when the former image and reputation is fresh. And, their diligence continues to reward all who come after them.
Because Max and Zach show true brotherly love. They supported one another to create something different from the ashes of their old chapter. And now, this brotherly love is shared by the over 50 men who show excellence in their fraternal lives.
Because Max’s story of change and living out the ideals of fraternity is one that deserves more than just a share on Facebook. It deserves affirmation and praise and continual sharing.
Because more collegians and alumni need to recognize that the first half of Max’s story isn’t OK.
Because the ongoing outcome of Max’s story IS fraternity. It’s the fraternity I hope all men can be a part of. It’s the fraternity I want my future sons to join.
Max, your story makes me proud to be a fraternity man and advisor. Your courage and dedication to the values you swore an oath to is why I gave—you are why I gave. May your story inspire many others as it has inspired me.
Matthew Deeg is the fraternity/sorority advisor at Hanover College. His care and passion for men and their success inspires him to do the work he does. He is dedicated to developing men into outstanding husbands, fathers, citizens, activists and professionals through the mission and values of fraternity. Contact Deeg via email and/or Twitter.