One of the privileges that comes with being an advisor for the new chapters is that on occasion you get to help initiate a chapter. I had my first chance to do that last spring with the University of Kentucky, and a few weeks ago I went with National Director & CDO Brian Lee to go initiate the Alpha Pi Chapter at Michigan State University.
Shortly after landing, Brian and I went to meet with the officers and go over the constitution and help the men set a calendar and budget for the fall. The officers are a great group of men who can toe the line between having fun and getting business done effectively, and those meetings (although long) went well.
Then we headed to the Hall of Fame Café in Lansing with the founding fathers, where we hung out and watched them anxiously wait for the founding father test and initiation that night. Many guys were checking their notecards with the information they needed to memorize for that night, and eventually we just needed to take the test and have that done. Then onto the test and initiation we went, and we set up shop in a big lecture hall as the founding fathers were taking the test.
Along with Brian and me, eight University of Michigan brothers came to help with the initiation ceremony and grading of the tests to make sure everything was running smoothly. Michigan State President Devin Petricca is good friends with Michigan Founding President Reid Compagner and Founding Vice President Kuni Hotta, and it is always cool to see the relationships and connections that help start chapters. The Michigan chapter was crucial in helping start the Michigan State chapter. After all the festivities that come with initiation, the men were more than relieved to have that our of the way and were pumped to come out swinging in the fall.
The next day Brian and I met with the founding officers one-on-one and helped prepare them for the fall semester just like we do at National Officer Training. We have found that it is crucial for the men to get trained well there. It is just hard to go through this in an hour or so, but these men are more than capable of becoming a strong chapter in the north. Way to go Michigan State!
Along with my initiation at Michigan State, I went on one of the more nostalgic visits that I get to go on every semester when I traveled to the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga (UTC). My whole family outside of my sister and I are from there, and we always go up to Chattanooga every Christmas, so it was great to see my family and crash at my Grandmother’s house instead of the usual hotel.
Shortly after landing, Founding President Phil Calkins and Founding Chaplain Scottie Hill took me on a hike on Signal Mountain, which was a great time to talk with those men about life and the different issues going on in the chapter. Also on a side note, we also realized on that hike how redneck the backwoods of Signal Mountain can be, which made for some interesting situations with people covered in mud on their four wheelers.
The UTC Chapter is really thriving on a campus that is continuing to expand. The men are about to eclipse 50 members, and they have already had a mixer with every sorority on campus! They are killing it.
As the chapter is expanding quickly, Scottie and I talked at length about keeping the spiritual pulse of the chapter checked at all times. Men come into the brotherhood because, for the most part, they see the social and campus presence they have and want to be a part of that. In doing so, some men neglect of the spiritual aspect of the fraternity. So, a quick word from the “wise,” keep the pulse of the social and spiritual aspects at all times and continue to focus on keeping both thriving.
One other point of my visit that was deeply encouraging and showed the commitment of the men was they could not seem to find a time for everyone to meet for officer meetings (said every officer corps ever.) So they decided to take that upon themselves and meet every Tuesday in the basement of a church at 6 a.m. to have their two-hour officer meeting and plan everything out for the week. That showed a great sense of the importance of the officer meetings and the sacrifices these men are willing to make in order to push the fraternity forward. Keep it up UTC. Go Mocs!