By Robert Bember
Senior Communications Advisor
I often don’t realize how much I’ve changed until I step back and look at where I started in comparison to where I ended up. In the midst of the process, I often fail to see what is transpiring before my eyes. Little ripples go unnoticed until they start to turn into major waves.
As a fraternity, we find ourselves in the middle of one of those seasons. Over the course of the two years I’ve spent on staff, I’ve seen major changes in how we conduct ourselves as a fraternity and how we carry out our vision of brotherhood and unity in Christ. All the while, our gaze has remained fixed on the face of our Savior and our hearts committed to the hallowing of His name.
A major step towards defining who we are was made within the first few months of my hiring when we developed the identity statement. It states that we are a lifelong brotherhood of committed Christian men seeking the bonds of brotherhood and unity in Christ through the avenue of a social fraternity on a college campus. It’s who we are, and the purpose is what we do.
What started as four men throwing out fraternity lingo and jotting down verbose phrases on a dry erase board that isn’t exactly a dry erase board turned into a major improvement in the understanding of how BYX functions on the local campus and national level.
The ripples flowed outward. Our ceremonies and traditions manual came together and many chapters put new ceremonies into practice. The secret phrase, fraternity tie and senior coin came into fruition, further emphasizing our stance as a fraternal organization. More and more chapters began exploring their opportunities with Greek life on campus.
Other evidences of the impact of this improvement in vision are more quantifiable. Pledge numbers are likely to break last fall’s record and retention is continues to improve. Thus, membership is at an all-time high.
Emphasizing the fraternal aspect of BYX has led to major changes in recruitment and pledgeship. Chapters are becoming more active in recruitment. Many have developed organized plans for summer recruitment and then follow up with a strong rush week. They are now able to distribute more bids to more high-quality men who are excited about contributing to BYX.
Chapters are making pledges do more to earn the right to be initiated to the fraternity. Pledge Captains are requiring difficult pledge semesters that challenge their pledges to grow spiritually, socially and academically. Some chapters have had a tendency to feel that whoever starts pledgeship is entitled to initiation. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
We’re seeing these changes start to affect retention. Men are choosing to stick around for more semesters. Through the challenges of pledgeship and the shared experiences that come from greater emphasis on fraternal traditions and secrets, men are being bonded to each other and growing in affection for their fraternity.
We’re developing a mindset of commitment that is improving the fraternity as a whole and growing the men into the image of their Savior. Fewer men are seeing BYX as a place to make friends and get out. Instead they’re taking advantage of their four years of active membership and a lifetime of brotherhood as an alumnus.
As the local chapters have continued to improve, we’ve committed to improve with them. As a National Staff, we’re doing things that Executive Director Jason Hoyt says he would have never thought of in the infancy stages of Nationals. Now we wonder how we ever functioned without them. There is not an aspect of BYX that we aren’t trying to improve.
First and foremost, this is about our men. We’re continuing to equip them for spiritual and fraternal growth in the best ways that we know how. Officer manuals are butchered and reworked every summer so that our leaders are as prepared as they can possibly be. National Officer Training has been planned since April, but the sessions and programs will be scrutinized until we arrive at camp to ensure that everything we teach is as relevant and applicable.
We’re striving for excellence with our graphics, video and social media. We are devoting more time and effort to each area. I was recently moved into the new role of senior communications advisor. We will be hiring another executive-level position to help push fundraising, expansion and media.
Our protocol for starting new chapters has improved by leaps and bounds. We’re asking more of potential chapters prior to initiation, and they’ve responded by having some of the largest classes of founding fathers that we have ever seen. We couldn’t be more excited about the chapters we’ve initiated over the course of the last year. They’re primed for fast growth and long-term success.
We have by no means arrived, but I can’t imagine a more exciting time to be a part of this fraternity. So much is improving and changing so fast, and I’m sure that this momentum will only continue. We’ll keep making ripples and looking forward to the waves to come.