There are a few different ways we learn how to be a man. Be it from our fathers, uncles, mothers, friends or society, people tell us what it means to be a man from a very early age. Even before we reach college, society begins to tell us what it means to be a fraternity man. The media, television, and movies paint the picture of a fraternity man and how they are the embodiment of masculinity. These outlets show us how to be masculine in our behavior, personality, and interactions with others. Perceived fraternity culture suggests we ask all the wrong questions which can lead to devastating consequences.
How much alcohol did you guys go through? Did you black out? Who threw up? Did you sleep with your date? How much money did you spend? Did you guys get the security deposit back? How bad were the damages? Did anyone go to the hospital? Are you on so-pro now?
Do these questions sound familiar?
Society’s idea of fraternity culture tells us, among other things, we should have the ability to drink large amounts of alcohol. But how can we prove to other fraternity men we can do it better? We challenge them to drinking games. Sometimes it seems as if the goal is to cause the most damage possible to our bodies, our location, and our reputation to prove how much of a “man” we really are. But what does this mean for fraternity men and the tenet of masculinity we represent?
The Delta Eta Chapter of Theta Chi holds an annual formal event in the Rocky Mountains. For the last two years, Delta Eta’s Health and Safety Advisor, Ryan Barone, PhD. facilitated a discussion with the chapter on how masculinity often impacts the way men behave at these formal events. Dr. Barone shifts the conversation to start asking the right questions.
How does excessive drinking make you more of a man? How can you make sure you and your guests are safe if they choose to drink? Is it an expectation to sleep with your date, and how does this expectation perpetuate rape culture? What if one of your brothers wants to bring his boyfriend as a date? Are you, as a man, expected to pay for everything that weekend?
In an ideal world, these questions would be the familiar ones. The men of Delta Eta discussed ways to challenge culture, expectations and the way society tells men to act. They made the decision to consume alcohol safely, and to watch out for their brothers and guests. They recognized there should be no expectation to drink. To instead ask for consent, not expect it. To respect the location and leave it as good, if not better, than when they arrived
Theta Chi at Colorado State University is challenging the way they personify masculinity. These men decided part of their Sacred Purpose was to have these conversations and challenge the influence fraternity culture has on masculinity. Their Sacred Purpose is to ask themselves what it means to be a man and how their actions represent masculinity and the brotherhood of Theta Chi Fraternity.
PJ Ricketson, Field Executive
When I went off to college everyone gave me advice.
My closest friends who had been there a year told me to meet as many people as possible my first month, because that is the narrow window in which strangers will actually welcome conversation. They told me the best routes to class, in order to avoid the clipboard people who only wanted to “ask you a couple questions” about something. I heard about the best burrito in town, the spots open till 4am, the strongest coffee on campus, and the best brunch spot.
My relatives all gave the same advice: go to class. Coming from an Italian family, with reunions of a 100 ‘aunts and uncles’ whom I’ve never met and are probably not even related to, I heard this advice a lot. My parents lectured me on the importance of money; something they still do. I read books and browsed the internet; no shred of wisdom would escape me. I got a lot of advice about college, but what was strange was no one ever said anything about rape or sexual assault.
It was just like any other evening in college and I was sober driver for our group of friends. The party we were at was nothing special but nevertheless, we were there. While I was sipping my water and talking with my Fraternity brother about an upcoming brotherhood camping trip we were planning, we noticed a guy doing a very poor job of hitting on a girl. I began to say frivolously that the guy was so bad at flirting that he was putting her to sleep. Before I could finish my sentence I realized that the woman, who could barely stand, with her eyes fluttering open and shut, wasn’t okay. That night, my Fraternity brother and I said something.
We found this woman’s friend and distracted the guy hitting on her so that she could get home safely. He called us a lot of names that are best left unwritten, but it didn’t matter because we knew we did the right thing. Man code doesn’t matter when someone is in danger of being sexually assaulted.
To me this is what Sacred Purpose is about: the safety of our members and the rest of campus. Always asking for consent in our own encounters is vital to ending sexual assault and rape. The fraternity taught me how to be an active bystander by engaging in conversations regarding consent and sexual assault. I was taught to be open and honest with my fellow brothers about the issue and this helped tremendously. Being an active bystander and looking out for the safety of those around you is just one way to insure our campuses are safe. If only one person at every party were to act as an active bystander maybe this culture shift in our own community will happen sooner, rather than later.
If you want resources on bystander intervention, you can click Here and Here
William Maher, Field Executive
Two weeks ago, Seattle hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (M&RL) unleashed their very powerful, political, raw, and unrepentant sophomore album titled “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made.” If hip-hop music isn’t your jam, just humor me for a moment. Allow yourself to see past the music and let the words transcend. Even though I’m not going to unpack the entire album for you, (follow me on Twitter if you want that realness) I do want to pull out some themes, which I believe are central to our Sacred Purpose.
Fact: Drug and alcohol use is pervasive on college campuses. However, research has shown heavy episodic drinking isn’t as prominent in Greek life as the media would like for you to believe.* Obviously, it is still an issue worth understanding and combating, but where do M&RL fit into this conversation? They are ultimately the reason you clicked on the post, right? Macklemore’s experience with alcohol and drug abuse is evident in multiple songs on this new album, but a few resonated with me, as I hope they will for you.
In their song “Kevin,” Macklemore begins the first verse by introducing the agony he feels when it comes to living with addiction and seeing the results. There are lyrics like, “I said peace at 5:30/the next time I saw him was in the hands of the pallbearer/ What if I never dropped him off there? / Blaming myself, in hysterics screaming, it’s not fair” and “He said he was gonna quit tomorrow/We’re all gonna quit tomorrow”. Both transport the listener into a world of drug addiction, then sucker-punch them to dig into their own experiences. It pushes the listener to reflect about the people in their own lives who have said those exact words and started down that path. If the listener is lucky, there is still a tomorrow.
In their song “St. Ides,” lyrics like “I can barely remember last night/Another morning swearing it’s the last time” glide into your thoughts and paint pictures of those nights you’ve had yourself. And when Macklemore recalls his first drink in the line “Used to steal my daddy’s Cabernet/Never thought it would turn into a rattlesnake”, it takes some of us to a place all too familiar. For Macklemore however, it was the beginning of an addiction he will battle for the rest of this life.
Sometimes we let our weekend persona get the best of us, but what we may not realize is how our actions affect our brothers who have addiction issues. When we go out and party Thursday night, but have that Friday class everyone said we would regret, we pry ourselves out of bed. But the brother who cannot stop himself, gets out of bed and pours another drink. When we have an exam in that 8:30 a.m. class everyone said we would regret, but there are guys drinking and playing FIFA in the brotherhood lounge, we hit the books then the bed. But the brother who cannot stop himself pours another drink. Or worse, another brother pours it for him.
But how do you distinguish the signs of addiction in a brother? Most addicts are adept at hiding the parts of themselves even they don’t want to recognize. Some signs of drug and alcohol addiction to look out for include:
• Self-destructive behavior
• Lack of restraint
• General discontent
• Frequently missing class or work
• Lack of energy and motivation
• Drastic changes in relationships with others
• Deceptive behavior
• Mood swings
If we can better educate ourselves to notice the signs of an addict, we may be able to save a brother’s life. Unfortunately for Macklemore, he was unable to reach his friend because he himself is living with an addiction. If Macklemore’s example doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. I encourage you to look for help, strength, and inspiration wherever you can, but it’s a damn good place to start.
Our Sacred Purpose is a reflection of our motto “the Assisting Hand”. Many will lend their hand to pull a brother out of an addiction. The question to ask is if you’ll have the strength to reach out yours for the help you need.
Follow this Link to find resources on how to get help or help others.
On February 27th, the men of Beta Lambda Chapter at The University of Akron in Ohio held a Charity Dinner in honor of alumnus brother Anthony Capozzi, who was recently re-diagnosed with brain cancer. Brother Capozzi has remained actively involved with the chapter for many years, serves as a volunteer on multiple university boards but really loves stopping by the house to mentor and spend time with the chapter. When the Chapter learned he was diagnosed with brain cancer for a second time, they immediately wanted to take action and come up with something that would honor him.
After discussing the best possible avenues to honor Brother Capozzi during chapter meeting, the group decided a Sacred Purpose Event, would be the best route to take. The brothers hired Dr. Symeon Miseoes, from Akron General to speak at the Dine and Donate event and to share valuable information with attendees about brain cancer and ways to support those around you who are living with the disease. Finally, active brother, C.J. Evans, who also overcame brain cancer during his high school years reached out to his family for further support. They graciously agreed to donate all of the food for the event.
The chapter advertised the event through IFC, spoke to multiple organizations on campus about their event and ended up receiving a phenomenal amount of support from the campus and community. They even had to adjust their original plan of providing 150 seats to 350 seats for attendees. Luckily, a few generous alumni in the area were able to financially assist the active chapter, which made them able to accommodate their overwhelming number of guests.
The chapter ended up raising $2,111 dollars from the event and are anticipating further donations to get their grand donations total to $2,500. This will make the event the largest fundraiser Beta Lambda has hosted in over a decade. Keep up the great work brothers!
Bob Eberling, Field Executive
Before you all head out for “SPRING BREAK 2016!” I wanted to make sure you had the tools needed to be successful.
I asked some SPRING BREAK vets I know if they had any advice for our subscribers and below is what they had to say. So before you head out this weekend (or if you are out right now) take a look at this list and make the most of your time!
* Know your surroundings and make sure you are with people you trust.
* Be safe, especially if you are out of state or out of the country.
* Stay in a group. Get your own drinks. Stay vigilant.
* Have fun, but don’t be irresponsible. Your health and safety is important.
* If you are planning for outdoor activities, make sure that you remember to stay hydrated.
* Don’t drink and drive.
* Use protection.
* Keep your phone with you at all times.
* Even though you’re having fun, try to remain smart about where you are, what you’re doing and how much money you’re spending.
* Designate a driver and don’t feel like you missed out if you don’t go wild.
* Get as much regenerative rest as you can.
* Be yourself.
* Enjoy yourself. Do something that you find fun and relaxing to get your mind off of classes, even if just for an hour or two.
* Go out, meet people and do something you have always wanted to try.
* Life is all about balance.
Be safe out there!
This post comes from guest blogger Jordan McGee, Field Executive currently out on the road.
It always seems like we never have enough time in the day to do everything we want or need to do. We wake up, grab a quick pop-tart to eat on our way to class, after which we stop by the student union on campus to say hey to our brothers hanging out and then we go to work in the afternoon. We take a quick break to eat some dinner after work before heading to the library with our roommate to study for that upcoming midterm and before we know it, its one in the morning and we head home to do it all again the next day. We never have time to do the things we want to do, and we barely have time to finish the tasks we need to do. This lack of time management leads to mounting levels of stress, fatigue, and an overall feeling of drowning in the ocean of expectations that college students face on a regular basis.
Our Sigma chapter at Oregon State University wanted to do something to address this issue for their members. This past month, the Vice President of Health and Safety, Kiernan Garrett, reached out to the workshop resources on campus and requested a time management counselor to come present to the chapter. During this session the speaker gave the group of men numerous resources and topics of discussion to think about and consider. She started by having all of the members divide their day-to-day schedules into sections of “need to do” and “want to do.” The point of the exercise was further demonstrated by having the men fill out a sheet on how many hours a week they spend of common activities such as transportation, meals, exercise, games, socializing, class, homework and so on. They then subtracted that from the total hours in a week and made many of the men realize that they truly do not have a firm grasp on their daily schedule. The counselor advised everyone to start every semester or term by planning out their week by week schedule, taking into consideration what we need to do and what we want to do, in order to find a healthy balance between the two.
Brothers all over the country consistently feel the weight of stress on their shoulders and struggles with the juggling act of everyday life. Some of us try to just get by and may not even realize the toll that takes on our overall health. We have to look out for each other and not be afraid to ask for help if we need it. Sometimes it is hard to admit that we don’t always have all of our life in order. So the next time you are feeling over-worked or stressed out, take a step back and look at your personal schedule. You may be surprised where all of the time is going.
-Jordan McGee, Field Executive.
Can everyone take a moment and consider something with me? We all have those instances in our lives where something so tremendous happened that we can remember exactly where we were and exactly what it felt like to experience that moment. For many of us, this type of moment happened Sunday at The Oscars. No, I am not talking about Leo and his first Oscar win (although that was a pretty cool moment to witness). I am talking about Vice President Joe Biden charging everyone in attendance, watching at home, tweeting, gramming and reading news stories the next day to change rape culture here in the United States.
No matter your political affiliation his words were a rally cry we can all get behind. In a just a few sentences the Veep himself made it abundantly clear that everyone of us has the duty and holds the power to disassemble a culture in which sexual violence is ubiquitous and normalized. The Vice President went on to say “Despite significant progresses over the last few years, too many women and men on and off college campuses are still victims of sexual abuse” and “[take the pledge] that says I will intervene in situations when consent has not or cannot be given.”
I cannot think of a moment in the recent past where a political figure, from either side of the aisle, spoke out on a topic so critical to our college campuses and our Greek Community. Our Sacred Purpose is to help each brother live their best lives and to connect each other through experiences and education. Education regarding sexual assault/violence, sexual misconduct, verbal or nonverbal harassment is paramount to the Sacred Purpose.
I can throw out statistics all day about the frequency of rape and abuse (every 107 seconds in America) but numbers will not get the conversations started. Utilizing your campus resources and creating conversations is really what this is all about. Can we, as Greeks change this alone? Is it impossible for all 750,000 undergraduate members in 12,000 chapters on more than 800 campuses in North America to affect change? What are your chapters doing to turn the tide? What is your campus doing to help push the movement forward? What can they do better?
“We must and we can change the culture so that no abused woman or man like the survivors that you will see tonight ever feel they have to ask themselves, ‘What did I do?’ They did nothing wrong.”- Vice President of the United States of America, Joe Biden
Click here to see his charge and here too see the powerful performance which followed.
I want to hear your thoughts regarding this topic and how your chapter can use this as a starting point to create conversations on your campus so please utilize the comments section and keep the conversation going!
Hey there readers and welcome to the new Sacred Purpose Blog!
My name is Anthony Dominguez and I am the new Director of Education for Theta Chi Fraternity. I am very excited about this opportunity to breathe some new life into our very important and very necessary Sacred Purpose movement.
The Sacred Purpose Movement was founded in 2013 to do more than assist and protect members—it will help every member live his very best life. Through this website, blog and other resources, we will provide each reader the opportunity to analyze the information and create critical dialogue that will impact not only chapters on a local level but the fraternity as a whole.
We will be introducing new narratives to consider when it comes to topics like sexual assault/intimate partner violence, hazing, fire and life safety, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness and additional topics central to our goal of keeping our brothers safe. To create critical conversations on these topics I am looking to YOU as undergraduates, alumni and campus officials to engage in a dialogue through the comments section of each post to ensure all positions are heard and all opinions are respected. We will have guest bloggers each week and I will be posting as well but I encourage our membership at large to think about contributing content. This is a great moment in Theta Chi history and I am excited to be a part of it.
If you are the Vice President of Health and Safety for your chapter, be on the lookout for an email very soon with information on how to navigate the webpage and how to record your events into our tracking system to ensure compliance as well as eligibility for the insurance discount (if you want to navigate on your own, the tracking forms are in the resource tab in the header as well as the resource center on the home page).
I look forward to making a difference with you all through this movement so if you have any questions, please comment below and we will make sure to get a great conversation started.
Anthony Dominguez, M.Ed.