By Robert Bember
My chapter visit road trip took a detour to Corpus Christi to see one of my brothers from the Beta Chapter tie the knot before I headed to visit the Epsilon Chapter at Houston Baptist University.
The Epsilon Chapter has gone from nearing extinction as a chapter to being the largest fraternity on their campus. The men continue to grow and to refine themselves as a chapter and as individuals. I was excited to see the men despite it being my third visit in 8 days.
With the amount of visits packed into a short period of time and the late nights over the wedding weekend, Starbucks was the sensible place to start my chapter visit. I met up with President JC Contreras to go get a dose of caffeine and prepare to meet with the other officers. The brothers had just returned from a crazy weekend of their own at their chapter retreat. They spent a couple of nights at a blueberry farm run by one of the members’ families.
We headed back over to campus, and JC showed me around the wing of one of the dorms dedicated to Greek Life at HBU. The university is working to grow Greek life, so decided to put some Greek housing in place on the top floor of the campus’s nicest residence hall. In the hallway, the men have their tall plywood letters displayed. A number of brothers are distributed between a few different suites on the floor.
One room at the end of the hall is used as an extra meeting room for BYX. They have their charter displayed, as well as a large trophy they received last year as the all-campus champions for intramurals. The chapter utilizes it for officer meeting as well as a place for storage.
I had a couple of one-on-ones in the BYX meeting room before I grabbed dinner with the officer team. We had made plans to go to Katz’s Deli, which I knew nothing about despite growing up in Houston, outside the fact that it never closes, so says the commercials. One of the officers asked if I wanted to get some crawfish. That sounded like a great idea. Being back on the gulf coast, it made perfect sense to me to grab some seafood.
I hopped into JC’s accord, claiming shotgun as the most powerful man in the car, and we began to trek around the massive highways of Houston. I had forgotten how impressive the highway systems are in Houston. We followed Secretary Benson Benny as he weaved in and out of traffic with no regard for us as we attempted to follow him.
We were all a little perplexed as to where we were going, but became even more confused when we pulled into the parking lot of a strip center with a large Asian shopping market in it. It didn’t talk long for me to decide this place wasn’t going to fly.
We walked into the market, which looked a lot like a mall dedicated to Asian items, and stopped at one of the restaurants. I quickly noticed that there were no tables and used that as my excuse for us to go elsewhere, along with making it clear that I wasn’t looking to catch a food-borne illness on this trip. Been there, done that. So I went into divamode and got my way. We ended up at Torchy’s tacos, so the men redeemed themselves.
After avoiding an intestinal catastrophe, I got to sit in on officer meeting with the guys. They passed around their agenda and efficiently talked through each individual officer’s responsibilities. The men’s commitment and focus on their positions was evident as I observed them handle their business. It also gave me a platform to challenge them in the areas they have fallen short in recent months.
I knocked out the rest of my one-on-ones on Monday. My time with the officers was encouraging. The officers are on the ball with their responsibilities with few exceptions, but no one is perfect. The officers are casting a sound vision to their men and the brothers seem to be following well. They have some really cool ideas and have done a pretty good job of executing them.
The Epsilon Chapter likes to roll out the red carpet for me. Every meal I had with one of the officers and every time I got coffee with one of them, the men offered to pay for me. I by no means expect them to do that, but it really made me feel as if I’m valued and respected by their chapter. I appreciate the hospitality they showed me during my time in Houston. The outpouring of love and show of servitude on their part meant a lot to me.
I closed out the trip with chapter meeting. There was a lot crammed into chapter, with the bigs being surprised with a game designed to show how well the bigs and littles know each other. I got to challenge the men to continue to grow and recruit the high caliber of men that are going to continue to make BYX the elite fraternity at HBU.
I’ve seen so many good things come out of the HBU Chapter and so much growth in just three semesters with them. The men of the Epsilon Chapter have always treated me so well and have worked hard to follow my leadership. I’m grateful for the effort they’ve put in and continue to put in.