By Robert Bember
Senior Communications Advisor
I recently made the trip to the capital of the greatest state in the union and the home of the Alpha Chapter of the greatest fraternity in the country: Austin, Texas. I dropped in on the University of Texas for my semi-annual visit to the Alpha Chapter.
I jumped right into one-on-ones with the 2013 officer team. They have great vision for where they want the chapter to go and have wasted no time diagnosing the shortcomings of the chapter as well as investigating ways of remedying those areas. On top of that, they seek to be innovative in any number of areas rather recycling past processes that have worked well within the Alpha Chapter.
The first big change in the Alpha Chapter has been to split the vice president’s role into two separate positions. The chapter made the decision under the leadership of the 2012 officer team to divide the service and social responsibilities. The chapter elected Alex Mark as VP Service and Wes Cole as VP Social.
The changes have allowed Wes and Alex to closely examine their responsibilities and refine chapter’s service opportunities and social events due to the more limited scope of their positions. Alex has compiled a number of service opportunities for the chapter while Wes has been able to plan more ambitious and unique social events for the chapter. Wes and Alex embraced the opportunity to define these new roles and have set a high bar thus far.
I had an eventful Monday evening. I dropped in on pledge meeting for a few minutes. Pledge Captain Zach Myers and his pledge team have pieced together a strong class of 26 men. In the brief time I stuck around pledge meeting, the pledges updated each other on upcoming events and held a discussion on brotherhood and unity. Their answers showed how much they already value the community that they will have in BYX.
From there, President Carson Tucker and I bounced over to cell group leader training. While waiting to kick off training, I met the infamous Gator. I’ve never met an internet celebrity before, so I didn’t know exactly how to respond. So I blurted out something to the effect of, “I know you,” and shook his hand (which I still haven’t washed.)
Chaplain Reid Watler moderated a discussion between the leaders by posing a number of questions about what the leaders want to get out of their cell group and how they will attain those goals. The leaders encouraged me with their hearts for their men and their approaches to cell group. They had great information and insights to offer each other.
As cell group leader training came to a close, more brothers started to file in for chapter meeting. I got to witness what Carson called the best decision he has made since coming into office: the addition of a fiddle to the chapter’s worship band. Two other brothers played guitar while a fourth played percussion on a wooden box. I’m sure there is a technical term for the name of the box, but it’s really just a glorified wooden box. But it sounds really cool when you punch and slap it.
Secretary Taylor Levesque succumbed to the biggest internet sensation since the Stare of the Gator and shared his work with the chapter after meeting. Taylor, Wes and their roommates decided to hop on the Harlem Shake bandwagon. The video hit around 18,000 views in just a couple of days. I’m getting mentally prepared for chapters to blow up my twitter with tweets from @someBYXchapter telling me to share their Harlem Shake video. The over/under on Harlem Shake tweets is at 28.5.
Following chapter meeting, I joined Carson and a small group of older, influential brothers in the chapter for their board meeting. Conversation revolved around what the chapter could do with the spring semester if they chose to eliminate spring pledgeship. At around 220 members, the Alpha Chapter sees that they might benefit from not having a continual influx of new members every semester. The brothers involved contributed some creative and ambitious ideas that could strengthen the chapter in big ways.
Tuesday morning’s one-on-ones started with Treasurer Bradley Roofner. Bradley lost a fight with a mountain on Summit Ski Week and flaunted a nice black eye at the time. I was happy to see it had healed. Bradley has set up his fellow officers well with the budget and continues to look for ways to provide scholarship money to certain brothers in need. I love his desire to make sure his brothers get to be a part of what the Lord is doing in the chapter.
My afternoon meeting with President Carson Tucker only further encouraged me over the direction of the chapter. He has some great ideas in the works and has helped his fellow officers to excel so far. What stood out the most in our meeting was his humility. At one point, Carson said he has days where he thinks the chapter would be better off if the other qualified presidential candidate would have won. I respect that. He understands that BYX is bigger than either him or his officer team. Carson has done a great job leading the chapter thus far.
For my last hoorah of the trip, I met with the officer team for dinner. We shared a lot of laughs together. I enjoyed building friendships with these brothers and bonding over stupid laughs and funny stories. Aside from the consistent joking, we were able to address some issues that have been front-page news for the chapter and officer team. We developed a plan for action and I’m confident with how the officers will carry it out.
I was blessed with an awesome time with my burnt orange brethren.