I have a way of finding out how unprepared I am for a chapter visit on Sunday nights before I leave town. I’m typically tired and not necessarily ready to exchange the comfort of my bed at home for the mystery of the hotel room beds. Last Sunday was no different. As I was hit with a number of texts and phone calls from different chapters, it became blatantly obvious that our summer break was over and it was back to the grind of the semester.
For my second consecutive semester, I started off my chapter visits by heading to Southern Arkansas University to spend some time with the Alpha Delta Chapter. I was quickly reminded that the hours on the road, time away from my community and, yes, even the nights spent sleeping with one eye open in hotel room beds are worth it to see what God is doing in the lives of our men and in the chapters across the country.
The Alpha Delta Chapter is no longer the “baby” of BYX now that the Alpha Epsilon Chapter at the University of Central Oklahoma has been initiated. But they grew out of their diapers a long time ago. The men of the Alpha Delta Chapter are ahead of the curve. They don’t act like a chapter that has been in existence for less than two years. The men strive for excellence in all their events and operations. Size wise, they still have a ways to go, but the brothers are putting things in place that will help them to thrive for years to come, that is, if we can continue to initiate quality brothers and leaders.
I started by meeting with Secretary Matt Wise on Monday afternoon. Matt has a ton on his plate but still seems to be going 100 miles-per-hour all the time. We spent some time discussing his goals for the semester. He, like the rest of the officers, is aiming high. They are hoping for their biggest pledge class in their short existence, despite the fact that freshman can’t rush in the fall. The officers are trying to solidify their chair structure and communication protocol, which is something chapters 10-plus years older than them are still struggling with.
I met with Pledge Captain John Thornsberry before dinner. John is pushing the chapter to start building relationships with potentials so that they’re excited about BYX when rush rolls around. The men see how necessary it is to build relationships during recruitment, though we don’t always have time to get to know men well before trying to sell them on BYX. I had a good meeting with his pledge team after chapter meeting, where we further discussed their philosophy on recruitment, the type of men they want in BYX and how to recruit those men.
We met for dinner with the majority of the chapter. We were able to fit everyone at one long table, which gives an idea of the size of the chapter. The numbers may not be there yet, but the men love each other well and are walking closely alongside each other to challenge and grow one another.
The men of the SAU Chapter do a great job with chapter meeting. They have a great meeting space at a local church that’s equipped with flat screen TVs. They used the TVs well for announcements and also showed the Summit Ski Week video to the chapter. National Initiatives Chair Will Smith did a good job of sharing what was going on with other chapters. Not enough chapters are using their national initiatives chairs well. President Alan Thompson keeps chapter meeting going at a steady pace.
I continued my one-on-ones on Tuesday. I started off with Chaplain Micah McCartney. We spent a while talking about his internship in youth ministry this summer and his heart for kids. He has the shepherd’s heart that we really look for in our chaplains. He loves and leads the men well.
I met with President Alan Thompson during the afternoon. I’m continually impressed by how Alan leads the chapter. I was worried we might lose him this summer. His summer internship involved him wrestling and tagging alligators, so I was concerned we might have a one-armed president this fall, or worse. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. I think what stands out the most is the way Alan attacks tough situations. He’s able to diagnose problems within the chapter and act on them quickly, all the while showing wisdom and grace in his actions. He’s pretty good at shooting pool too.
Treasurer Andrew Story and I had an interesting one-on-one. After hitting up Sonic’s happy hour, we sat down in the student center and were discussing business. Andrew handles his responsibilities well, so it was an easy conversation. After a while, a woman with a heavy foreign accent sat down next to us and asked if I was a journalist. So I briefly explained my job and why we were meeting. She began asking more questions about what we were doing and quizzing us on BYX. She seemed interested, and it took some effort to explain that it was for men only. I deferred to Andrew on most questions since it is his university, and I tried to creep away as quickly as I could without making it obvious that I was weirded out.
Vice President Caleb Price was the last officer with the privilege of meeting with me. We talked about their plans for socials this semester. He also gave me a good account of their Island Party in the spring and what they had learned from it. The rest of our time was spent talking about intramurals sports and football. Surprising, I know.
The men of the chapter are involved with numerous campus ministries. They invited me to a couple of their events with the campus ministries. The men are well-connected within the campus ministries, which we encourage in large part because BYX is NOT a campus ministry. We are a fraternity, and I’m proud to see the men of the Alpha Delta Chapter seeking out fellowship and Christ-centered community through multiple avenues on campus, and, in many cases, serving as leaders in those ministries.
Despite their involvement elsewhere, the zeal that they have for BYX is evident. I’m excited to see how the Alpha Delta Chapter continues to grow and mature.