Dear Sacred Purpose Readers,
Today is going to be a good day and here’s why: because today you are here, and that’s enough.
As I sat in the Music Box Theatre in Manhattan, with my best friend and fraternity brother, I began to see myself in a character named Evan. Honestly, I began to see myself in multiple characters that evening. I will admit here and now I cried. I cried a lot. Catharsis is a remarkable feeling, but sorrow is too. I wept for my own thoughts of “not being enough” and for friends whom I watched “disappear” through mental illness and suicide. Witnessing a single performance brought out all those feelings and it was overwhelming.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there is one death by suicide every 12.3 minutes. Suicide among males is four times higher than females, and the prevalence of suicidal thoughts, planning and attempts is significantly higher among adults aged 18-29 than among adults 30+. When we discuss mental health, suicide, and suicide prevention, these emotions are tell-tale signs of someone who needs help. Too often these signs are in front of us and we are unable to act. Sometimes out of ignorance and sometimes out of sheer awkwardness, we let little clues pass over us. Let’s back up for a second and catch everyone up to speed.
Dear Evan Hansen is the story of a lonely student who is mistaken to be the best friend of a fellow student who took his own life. Through a series of mishaps and good intentioned white lies, he finds himself befriending the grief-stricken family, truly believing he can help them feel closer to their lost son. His lies soon spin out of control as a video of a speech he makes at an all school memorial assembly goes viral and we learn the extent of his anxiety about connecting in the age of social media.
I will not spoil anything for you, but know, this musical is heartwarming and gut wrenching all in the same breath. So why are we talking about it here? What significance does it have to Sacred Purpose?
Sacred Purpose is at the heart of the smash Broadway Hit Musical Dear Even Hansen, which debuted last December. Bringing in nine Tony Nominations, Dear Evan Hansen has taken the theater world by storm. Much like last year’s Hamilton: An American Musical, it has captured the attention of nearly every demographic imaginable.
Simply put, Dear Evan Hansen connects us. All of us. “Because everyone should matter.” The title character in this musical is anxiety ridden to the point where his interpersonal skills hold him back from making any real connections. Not for a lack of trying, Evan finds himself, like some of us do, caught between living in the real world and living behind our screens. Early in the show, you discover Evan feels like he is on the outside looking in and wondering if anyone would notice if he “just disappeared tomorrow.”
Engaging in conversations around mental health and suicide can be tough. Often, we lend our support by liking, sharing, favoriting, or retweeting posts (similarly to what you might do with this one), only to find out it isn’t enough. Then we create memorial blogs and pages to remember people. We post how loved they are, but unfortunately, those words will never be read or heard by the people who needed it the most.
Evan sings, “I’d rather pretend I’m something better than these broken parts. Pretend I’m something other than this mess that I am.” If you have ever felt this way, you know how easy it is to pretend. You know how to use your coping mechanisms to shield yourself and those you love from the storm in your brain. Thankfully for me, and for Evan, getting help and having someone to talk to pulled us both out of those dark spaces.
But what do you do when you see someone you care for exhibiting these emotions or others like it? Your willingness to talk about mental or emotional issues and suicide with a friend, family member, or co-worker can be the first step in getting someone help and preventing suicide.If you see something, say something. Having an emotionally open dialogue with our brothers, friends, and family about suicide is an important first step in prevention.
“Let that lonely feeling wash away. Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be ok. ‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand, you can reach out your hand.”
Thank you, Evan Hansen, for doing what you’re doing.
For more information about Suicide and Suicide Prevention follow the links below
The Silence of Suicide- Sacred Purpose
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
1 (800) 273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
As part of our Sacred Purpose commitment to the Mental Health of all our brothers this post comes to us in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week.
For some of us, there are moments we have in our lives that are so painful we wonder how we could ever forget them. The more I talk about it, the more I see it in other people’s lives. Everyone seems to have their painful moments, no matter how trivial. For me, that moment was the day I decided to kill myself.
For so long, I looked for an excuse. Why do I feel this way? Why do I hate myself so much I wanted to not exist? I was a sophomore in college. I had academic scholarships. I was involved. I was in a fraternity with some of the best guys I knew. I had a good family. I even survived cancer. I thought I was going to change the world. Those are the things I was proud of; having depression and anxiety however, were not included.
When I would look into other people’s eyes, I could see a light in them. When something funny came up or someone they liked walked into a room, their eyes would light up. Looking in a mirror you can sometimes see the light in your own eyes. The light that tells you to keep going; you’re meant for something. One day, the light behind my eyes stop shining as bright. Eventually, I saw it go out.
It was then I stopped sleeping. I stopped eating. I hated me. I thought God hated me. I was utterly hopeless.
The seeming totality of darkness came and I was no longer in control. Every night, I’d find solace in the blade of a knife up and down my arms and legs. Why? To kill the numbness. To allow the physical pain to supersede the emotional pain and give myself a breath of fresh air. I’d watch the blood, as pure as rubies, float down my skin like tears.
I would hide the scars in my eyes and on legs so you couldn’t see them. I’d make up excuses as to why I wasn’t sleeping or eating. “It’s just stress” or “I just don’t have time right now” were my go-to excuses. I lost over 30 pounds in just two months. I’d lie when people asked me if I had plans so I can sit in my bedroom, in the dark, accompanied only by my thoughts, or the occasional text to a suicide hotline.
Once they know you’re serious, they’ll ask you for a plan. I’d gone over it so many times in my head, I had it down to a science. I could overdose or jump off of the tallest building on campus. I ran through each option but the deciding factor was my car. I’d go on these long drives by myself and see how fast my car could go. I wanted a rush before I left. I’d drive my car over 120 miles per hour and crash into the cement overpass.
It would be quick and I would be gone.
Then the night came. The night in November I would die. They would find an eloquent letter written about why and I’d try to give them as many answers as possible and hopefully they would understand it was not their fault. I was the broken one.
That’s when my friends intervened. I had made my intentions known to a few folks before and in my hour of need, they knew. This is the moment. They were done listening; this time they pushed. They pushed me toward the help I needed.
I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital. They take your shoelaces in there. I missed my shoelaces. I missed my friends. I missed writing about all of it. There are no pencils and pens, just crayons. The worst part? There’s no music. So I’d write the lyrics down in different colors.
In the middle of my stay, a nurse brought me a package. It was my Theta Chi jersey. My fingers lined the stitching and the fabric absorbed each tear. Those letters represented over a hundred people who believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. People who wanted to make me better. They represented an oath I took to live to higher standard, be the best version of myself, and to help all of those around me. I didn’t feel alone anymore. The light in my eyes began to flicker.
From then on, it was a long road. I’d be lying if I said that place fixed everything. It did unearth some truths I wasn’t ready for, but desperately needed to hear. Being there allowed me to see how serious my disease was, but it didn’t fix me. My depression still follows me, but I manage because I found help. I had the support of close friends to continue treatment. They helped me see that my life is more than just a few good years. It is a gift. I kept living because I began to focus on the flickers of light despite the presence of darkness. As the lights gleamed brighter, eventually, my entire world illuminated. I saw hope. I saw the people who believe in me and much as I believe in them.
I’m 24 now. I’ll still face tough times, but I’m living out my dreams because with help, I made the choice to keep living.
So I challenge you:
When your friend is hurting, go to them.
When someone wants to talk, make time to listen.
When the people you love need you, find them and make sure they know you’re there.
You have no idea what people face but it’s your duty to make them feel like they belong here. Tell the people you love that you love them. Tell them often. You have no idea when they’ll need to hear it. These things won’t cure depression, but it’s easier to face hard times when you know that there are people out there that want you to be here.
Believe in others and tell them; show them. Let your actions and words speak volumes. That is how we beat suicide; how we can keep our friends alive. That is how people like me survive and recover and write the story five years later.
Chris Hixon (Iota Theta/Central Florida 2015)
Click here for Risk Factors and Warning Signs
Click here to find Support for yourself or someone you know
I remember the day I knew I was gay. I began having those butterfly feelings in my stomach you hear about in the movies. It was then I knew deep down I had my first crush, and it was on a guy. I knew at that very moment I was not the same as everyone else. I was young, however, and I didn’t really understand the concept of “gay.” Not yet, at least.
For years afterwards, I told myself I had to like girls and anything less was unacceptable. I told myself the part of me who liked guys was just a collection of thoughts—it wasn’t real. While I would tell others I was straight, few would believe it. For years I was bullied because, to others, I seemed different. Every day at school was daunting and miserable; those were some of the darkest years of my life. Those who have been bullied know exactly what that’s like, and while I have forgiven, it is hard to forget.
In high school, I briefly dated a couple girls. Still, I noticed guys who were attractive to me. I told myself that attraction was just “thoughts.” While I never felt one hundred percent comfortable with my sexuality, I felt I finally put that part of me—those thoughts—behind me.
When I arrived at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) I became involved on campus through the Student Government Association. By second semester I accepted a bid to join an interest group that would become the Iota Tau chapter of Theta Chi. While we were still a colony, I began to date a woman at NKU. Even though I had told myself and others I was straight, people still suspected otherwise just as they had years before. The relationship just didn’t feel right, and after a month and a half I ended the relationship. I knew it hurt her, but I couldn’t keep pretending I was happy.
After that relationship, I put dating behind me. I accepted a position on a Cincinnati City Council campaign and devoted much of that summer to it and to my internship at the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts. I was really happy working in politics and at the courthouse. In addition, Theta Chi was coming together very strong. By the time sophomore year began, I was beginning to come into my prime.
In November my candidate won a seat on Cincinnati City Council and our colony installed as the Iota Tau chapter of Theta Chi. I began to make a name for myself on campus. My self-confidence grew. When spring semester rolled in, I was appointed to the Interfraternity Council to serve as Vice President of Membership. It was also around this time I noticed someone in an unexpected way – through Twitter. One of my chapter brothers retweeted one of his tweets; I clicked on his profile and found he and I had similar political and social views. I found him on Facebook and sent an innocuous friend request; he accepted it and we began to chat and learn more about each other. As we chatted more and more, I could tell there was a feeling greater than friendship. That part of me—those thoughts—had begun to come back. This time, however, I could not just put those thoughts away. This time was different, and I knew it. I felt it.
By February, things with this guy progressed and we admitted we liked each other. That is when I knew it was time for me to come out.
My chapter brothers immediately came to mind, so at one of our chapter meetings in February I came out, initially as bisexual so I could still hold out hope that I would be “normal.” In my mind, being bisexual was still better than being gay. I was very nervous doing it, but I hoped my brothers would be accepting: that’s exactly what they were. After meeting about a dozen brothers came up to me and congratulated me. One of my brothers said, “All I want is for you to be happy; I’m glad you came out.” They all told me how proud they were of me, and for the first time I felt completely normal.
Things did not work out with that guy. Soon after, however, I dated another guy and I knew I was gay. Not bisexual, but gay. That was my truth and I was finally able to live in it.
The fraternal movement has not always been known to be accepting of its LGBTQ members. There are countless examples from the past—both told and untold—of fraternities hazing, bullying, and kicking out brothers who either came out or whom they suspected of being gay. The most operative word there is “past.”
This is the present.
My Theta Chi brothers created a culture of caring through our collective Sacred Purpose which I needed to finally develop the courage to be who I am and nothing less. In a way, Theta Chi and Greek life saved my life. Without their acceptance, I don’t believe my mental health, to this day, would be in a strong place. Holding onto that burden was one of the hardest things I have ever done. With their support, I live authentically. I live my best life. Theta Chi took a timid college freshman who was lying to himself about his sexuality and helped him become a confident and proud man.
I don’t think I would be where I am today, a First Year at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, without the loving, respectful, and accepting environment that exists in Theta Chi Fraternity. These ideals are the Sacred Purpose we are all called to live. We need to remember this and put it in practice every single day.
Patrick Reagan (Iota Tau/Northern Kentucky 2016)
Three weeks ago this Saturday, the game changed.
Every year, thousands of collegians on campuses all across North America participate in leadership events, community building exercises, self-help seminars, personal development, team building trainings, and countless other activities which will ultimately define who they become once they leave their college/university. This has been the standard for decades for members of Greek letter organizations. Get your education but also live and learn outside the classroom. While the intent has always been there, fraternities have not always been the best at being able to quantify and articulate exactly what the fraternal experience is. This all changed July 23, 2016, when we launched The Resolute Man.
The feeling in the room was electrifying. As I began to field questions during the launch and in the days that followed I could see the wheels start to turn in the minds of our collegians and for some, I could see when it clicked.
“This is what we have been waiting for!” one brother quipped. “Resolute Man will make is so much easier for me to explain to non-members or even their parents the benefits of fraternity membership,” said another brother.
The Resolute Man for all intents and purposes is a road map to getting the most out of your collegiate experience. It highlights educational and experiential opportunities for collegians to fully engage in, not only through their academic pursuits on campus, but it also serves as pathway to instill leadership and social competency into their own personal and eventually professional lives.
It is true, the Resolute Man is a four-year journey for our collegiate members. What is truly special about Resolute Man is it purposely absorbs and adopts the tenets of Sacred Purpose; something which, when done correctly, can have a great impact on the lives of our entire membership and not just a single member.
Sacred Purpose’s mission is to foster a sense of responsibility in the protection of our brothers and our communities. The pillars of Sacred Purpose can all be traced back to the idea of creating true friendships rooted in learning and caring for one another. This can been seen in the updated leadership structure within local chapters, new advisor roles dedicated to health and safety, and the over 800 events created and implemented over the past two years. Creating opportunities for our collegians to have critical conversations with their chapter and their communities is one of the most rewarding aspects of our collective Sacred Purpose.
The Resolute Man makes it a priority for any collegian going through this journey to not only attend Sacred Purpose events put on by his chapter, it also requires them to help plan and implement an event themselves. A Resolute Man is a leader in his chapter and on his campus and through Sacred Purpose a Resolute Man is dedicated to the safety of his brothers and his community.
History was made in Theta Chi Fraternity with the Resolute Man and Sacred Purpose is an essential part of this historic move. I cannot wait to watch our collegians and eventually our alumni (myself included) achieve this historic distinction.
For more information, CLICK HERE
1000 days is a long time. You could walk coast-to-coast across the U.S. multiple times. You could spend a weekend in every country in the world. You could write a book, bring a child into the world, and train for a marathon, and you would still have time left over.
For more than 1000 days I have mourned the loss of my brother, Gilad Nissim.
March 26, 2013 was the last time I saw my friend. March 27th came and Gil, a freshman sitting in his dorm room, called his Dad complaining of a headache. After his conversation, Gil took the elevator down from his residence hall to grab lunch, took three steps outside of his building, and collapsed on the ground.
Gil was taken to the hospital where it was determined he suffered from an aneurism and was in a coma. Gil was in good health, but we soon learned he suffered from a condition called Arteriovenous Malformation, or AVM. He had a blood clot in his brain. A tangled mess of nerves in his skull, assumed to have been there since he was a child, just waiting to go off like a neurological time bomb.
Gil spent the next few months in the Maryland hospital before being transported to Israel where his family was located, and they would be able to try some experimental treatments. In November it was determined the son and brother we all came to know was not going to return to us, and he was taken off life support. He passed away on November 13, 2013.
I will never forget my Chapter President, Ben Caffey, calling us in for an emergency meeting that next Sunday afternoon. Ben, standing at the front of the room, was forced to shoulder the heavy burden of telling his chapter our 19-year-old brother would never awake from his coma. The kid who never ceased to put a smile on our faces, whether it was being the first to volunteer for an event, or having the uncanny ability of friend-zoning himself with every girl he met… he was gone.
There is something eerie about the death of someone younger than yourself. It brings into question a lot of truths you may have never been forced to consider. We grow up watching our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and sometimes even our parents pass. Unfortunately, all this conditioning does not quite prepare you for the untimely death of not only a teenager, but a teenager who was among the best of us. A physics major who applied for internships that PhD’s barely qualify for. But that was Gil: so bold in his actions that his genius could never be questioned with totality.
Gil’s death brought about a great deal of grief and I was forced to cope with the far-too-early loss of my friend. Coping comes in the most unique ways – for me it was restlessness. I needed to put my efforts into something meaningful for Gil, so we began work on a candlelight vigil.
As Greeks, we are day in and day out, pit against each other in competition. We compete in recruitment, athletics, philanthropy, community service, and socially and are constantly measuring our own success based on the results of others. In an instant, all of that pettiness faded away.
I met with Matt Lenno, our Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and he began giving me some information about how we could start putting something together for Gil. I sat in rooms with the
Panhellenic President, IFC President, and leaders from every fraternity on campus; each of them extending their own assisting hand to our memorial event. They each came forward with a donation for candles, offering aspects of their own fraternity’s ritual towards the loss of not just my Theta Chi brother, but a member of a larger brotherhood –of all Greeks.
On a bone-chilling November evening, while swirling winds threatened to blow out the 1000+ candles that were lit, a community of caring and mutual respect was cultivated. Our Sacred Purpose is to take care of our brothers and our community. That night our community took care of us.
In the 3 years since Gil’s death, it does not feel any easier, but it does feels more hopeful. Not because I hope to see him again in life, but because I saw the 1000+ people who showed up for his vigil, and I see them honoring him still to this day. It is a quick look at the bracelet I’ve worn on my wrist in his memory each day, or those who make a Facebook post on his wall telling his family we remember him. Gil’s impact will continue through those who remember him.
It is impossible to understand why Gil died. It still feels tragic and wasteful. At the age of 23, how to understand death is still a mystery to me. The only thing I can do is attempt to understand Gil’s life.
I can understand what Gil did each day that made people fall in love with the good in him.
I can work every day to live it in a way that Gil would be proud of.
I miss you, Gil – thank you for being my brother and sharing your good with the world.
Kevin Kutner, Field Executive
With recent national and world events in mind I sat down and thought about what I would do if I was thrust into a situation where my safety and those around me became dangerous. After a recent attack in what was, up until six months ago my home, I never really thought it could happen to me.
Never in my city. Never in my neighborhood. Never on my street.
My naivety got the best of me when an armed gunman took the lives of Dallas and DART police officers last week in downtown Dallas, Texas. I’ve spent countless hours at a park suspended over a highway in downtown. I’ve spent days and nights in museums blocks away, plenty of money on basketball games in the same area, and my fair share of brunches on patios downtown. This was my home and the home to many friends and family. My best friend lived in a high-rise 2 blocks north up until 3 weeks ago. He was in his office a few blocks away working late, as usual, when gunshots rang out. When word hit my twitter feed I was stunned. In a panic, I sent him a text, “just stay inside”.
Then an even larger cloud of uncertainty came over me. The protesters; I know them. They were my neighbors, my colleagues, and my friends. How do I make sure they are safe? How do they know what to do? This isn’t something they teach you in school. What would I do? What do you do?
While officials say the likelihood of being caught up in an attack is “very, very small”, the public is urged to follow these steps if you should hear gunshots or an explosion in your office, school, residence hall, or in public.
Run to a place of safety but only if you can.
- First consider your route. Is it safe? Will it put you in the line of fire?
- Act quickly and quietly
- Leave your belongings behind
- Insist on others coming with you
Hide if you can’t run somewhere safely.
- When looking for a hiding place, avoid dead-ends and bottlenecks
- Asses weather your hiding place will be substantially protected from gunfire
- If you’ve locked yourself in a room, barricade yourself in and move away from the door
- Stay quiet; do not shout for help
- Turn your phone onto silent and switch off vibrate
Tell the police of the attack.
- If you are able to evacuate get as far away as possible
- If it is safe to do so, try and stop others from entering
- Dial 911 and tell the operator of the location of you and the attacker(s)
- Include descriptions of your surroundings as well as if there are casualties.
- When approached by officers, keep your hands in plain sight at all times.
While this is by no means a catch-all post of what to do in the event of an attack, these steps are proven to have saved lives. You will not know what to do until it happens to you but being as proactive as possible is always a best practice. Sacred Purpose is about keeping our brothers safe and with these steps you can keep yourself, your brothers, and your community safe during a frightening situation.
*Information provided from the National Police Chiefs’ Council in the UK
This is the Part II of a three-part series on Music, Mental Health, and Masculinity. Be sure to check back to read parts I and III.
When I was about 14 I had a conversation with my uncle, who makes a living playing music. He asked what I listened to these days, and I told him Metal and Hardcore. Quickly, my uncle asked about a few bands, to which I replied “No I don’t like those emo bands.”
Uncle: What’s wrong with Emo bands?
Me: They just complain and are annoying.
Uncle: Isn’t Emo short for emotional?
Me: Yeah I think so…?
Uncle: Isn’t Metal and hardcore emotional?
Me: Well yeah, but it’s different…
Uncle: I don’t know; it sounds like you listen to Emo music.
I was struck by this and halfheartedly admitted to myself that he had a valid point. Of course, I shrugged it off in the moment to defend my view; citing the musicianship and lyrical content of Emo music as supporting factors in my disregard for the genre.
Where did the disregard for an entire scene of music come from? It came from my view of masculinity through the lens of a teenager.
After my going to my first concert in 7th grade (Slipknot, Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, and Trivium), my friends and I became obsessed with heavier music. The energy and passion we witnessed at the show was unlike anything we had experienced. Enormous mosh pits, screaming along to songs, head banging, fans jumping fences to get into the pit, shoes being lit on fire and thrown; it was an adrenaline fueled sea of chaos and we loved it. Perhaps if it was any other concert, we would have been set down a different path, but that day our choice had been made. We wanted more.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube to watch other Metal concerts to discover new bands. I couldn’t say when, but it got to a point where what we were listening to “wasn’t heavy enough.” We were building a tolerance for Metal and needed something stronger.
Soon we were discovering bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, Animosity, Despised Icon, Carnifex, Through The Eyes of the Dead, The Red Chord, and the list goes on. It almost became some unwritten law that if the band did any clean vocals (singing) they sucked, and Emo bands being at the forefront of this “suckage.”
We could literally pull up a band’s page and write them off simply from the 3 genre descriptions that were listed. I had come to understand and buy into the idea that listening to Emo music somehow made you weaker, or a lesser fan. I would see shirts at concerts that said “Defend Metal, Kill Emo Kids”. Metal, right?
The irony was most Metal bands preached the same kind of acceptance and understanding their Emo contemporaries did, just in a different way. It was all a means to the same end. An outlet to seek refuge from life’s turmoil, and your own insecurities. I didn’t realize it, but I was using heavy music to escape from my issues while feeling safe behind a veil of masculinity.
I love Death Metal. I still listen to it every day. I’m actually listening to Whitechapel right now. My point however is that it was easier to wear the patch of Metal with confidence, because I felt protected by what I considered to be its inherit “toughness”. I knew Emo music was the butt of many jokes, simply because they were outwardly emotional and vulnerable about very real subjects, but unfortunately, I fed into that.
Believe it or not, Metal, is equally open and emotional on similar subjects, but people have this hesitation and fear of the genre, and for whatever reason, I loved being a part of that. I felt stronger, more protected and more of a man because of the music I listened to. It was a vicious cycle, fueling both my affinity for Metal and disdain for Emo music.
During my fall into the Death Metal abyss, I caught wind of bands like Stick to Your Guns, The Ghost Inside, Have Heart, and Guns Up. These groups embodied more of Hardcore style of punk mixed with some Metal motifs and an attitude reminiscent of the PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) punk bands from the 1980’s. Not only did they preach an understanding of mental and emotional issues, but they addressed a wide range of topics like drug and alcohol abuse, racism, sexism, masculinity, and family struggles.
These bands had a defining role in my life. They helped me shatter my ignorance towards music, myself, and my identity. They question the stereotype of what it meant to be a man and opened my eyes to the fact that what you wear, what you look like, who you know, and what music you listen to has nothing to do with your ability to be a good person. I found a strength in this. I found acceptance. It wasn’t just an acceptance of the music I had previously written off, but it was an acceptance of myself, my problems, and who I was. It was an acceptance of it being okay to cry, scream, and hate the world. With them, it was okay not to ALWAYS be okay and they worked to offer solutions through their music, to light a path towards getting through these problems.
Sacred Purpose does the same thing for me. Living my life through our shared sacred purpose lets me know my brothers are there, just like music, to help me through. Shattering the idea of what it means to be a man and what it means to hold myself and others accountable is something I didn’t think music could do. Re-framing masculinity and mental health, as a ton of our chapters are doing is a good thing, and is a conversation worth having. I am proud to be a member of an organization that values health and safety just as much as it values brotherhood.
“A poor man’s poor sport we’ve fallen short of reasoning/Sex does not determine capability /But we let our hostility be our guide to decide /What’s right for a girl and for a guy/Because every sex is just as able to keep this foundation stable /Enough is enough speak up its tough but don’t think that your unable/Let acceptance be our key to unlock our integrity /From there we’ll be able to see that there’s more than just she and he”— “A Poor Man’s Poor Sport” by Stick to Your Guns
Kris Taibl, Director of Communications
After traveling across the country and visiting with numerous chapters who differ in every way imaginable, I couldn’t help but notice at least one similarity across the board: every Vice President of Health and Safety (VPHS) had slightly different definitions of what their role was in the chapter. Some would say, “I’m the bro other bros can come to with problems” while others would express “I’m the dude who puts on events and encourages less partying.”
While all have some semblance of truth at their core, they all miss the mark on the original intent of the position and how it has evolved to address the needs of the ever-changing Greek landscape. It is imperative every VPHS fully understands why Sacred Purpose came to be, their role in the chapter, as well as how to bring our Sacred Purpose to a community wide level, and beyond.
If you google “fraternities” your search results would be riddled with informational links and unfortunately the majority of the info you see would be negative content. Articles sometime range from alcohol abuse statistics among fraternity groups, to hazing allegations, and even the tragic death of undergraduate members. The idea these stories have become a normal narrative in Greek life is the very reason Sacred Purpose came to fruition. The word “sacred” is used intentionally and is not to be taken lightly. Our Founders took an oath to protect and support one another, with the understanding that today’s members would continue their legacy.
Caring for others is the highest expression of courage and true friendship. The mission of Sacred Purpose is simple: Develop a deeper level of mutual caring for one another, in turn, strengthening the brotherhood and the community as a whole.
The VPHS is the embodiment of Sacred Purpose and their role is twofold. He should be a resource to the members for emotional, physical and relational strength, while at the same time educating the chapter to do the same. He should cultivate working relationships with campus and community health and safety professionals who can support the mission.
The VHPS should be on a first name basis with offices that promote health and safety initiatives on their campus. Counseling centers, university health centers, campus Title IX coordinators, police and fire departments are all resources that should be utilized to maximize the effectiveness of this position and our Sacred Purpose. These trained professionals can assist in our efforts to host community wide events to shed light on tough topics like sexual assault prevention, mental/physical health, or life safety best practices.
The Sacred Purpose movement is unique to Theta Chi and is at the forefront of making health and safety a priority among Greeks. The VPHS serves an invaluable role which needs to be accepted with passion, responsibility, and accountability. Our Sacred Purpose is gaining traction and starting to be recognized by friends and allies in the general population. Critical conversations are being had in our chapter houses and on campuses across North America, and the VHPS is keeping the dialogue going. It is time to put an end to the negative perception fraternities have in the public eye and start a productive conversation on how Greek life can make a positive impact on its members and campuses as a whole.
We cannot simply say we are “…ennobled by a high and sacred purpose…” We have to live it.
Taylor Dahlem, Field Executive
In a few weeks it’ll be time to cram for those final exams then it’s finally three months of freedom! Being from Maryland, this means boat trips on the river, Orioles games at The Yard, crabs doused in Old Bay, and of course a trip to Ocean City. But whatever your summer plans may entail, it probably involves trading in your sweatshirt for a Theta Chi tank. That means it’s time to start shedding the winter plumpness and getting in shape.
I’m not going tell you to skip “wing night” or not eat Chick-Fil-A; you can still have fun, go out with friends, and eat the foods you like. I’m here to give you a quick rundown on how to eat a little healthier and still be yourself. Education is the first step to living a healthier lifestyle. One blog post cannot possibly cover it all, but it’s a good place to start and hopefully it will inspire you to continue the research and share the knowledge.
First, let’s talk about your diet. When I say diet, I don’t mean going on one, I’m talking about what you actually eat. Unfortunately, diet fads don’t work. Even though you may lose weight (awesome), they don’t focus on long-term health (not awesome.) The fat cells your body develops to store fat as you gain weight, never go away – even when you lose the weight. This is why it is so easy to put weight back on. If weight loss is your goal, you’ll need to develop a plan to change your lifestyle. That sounds daunting but I’ll break it down and offer some tips to help you out.
- Before you make changes, record what you eat and how much you exercise for seven days. You don’t need to spend money on this, there are plenty of free apps to help you: My Fitness Pal and My Plate are two I would recommend.
- Take your seven-day log, do a little research, and figure out what areas you can improve in. This is the hardest part so feel free to get help from a nutritionist or personal trainer. Chances are you might have someone in your chapter majoring in a health and fitness field that could help.
- Make a plan on how to incorporate your areas for improvement into your diet over time. The key here is not to quit “cold turkey”. If you have a few sodas each day, cut your limit to one per day then once you conquer that, every other day, and so on. You can still go out but consider grilled chicken instead of fried, downsize your unhealthy selections – then eventually eliminate them, hold the butter and salt, etc.
- Take a look at your exercise routine. If you don’t have one, incorporate an actual plan. Put your workout schedule into your calendar and try to keep it to the same time each day. It may be hard at first but once your body gets acclimated to this routine, it becomes almost second nature. Make sure you’re lifting and doing cardio. You don’t need to get big, but use weights to tone your body. Burning fat will happen through cardio. You can do as many crunches as you want but it’s actually cardio that will allow those abs to show.
- Continue tracking your food and drink intake and educate yourself about what is in your food so you know what you’re eating. This is really important. If you go through three sauce packets at Chick-Fil-A, that’s 400-500 extra calories. A large Baja Blast from Taco Bell is over 500 calories. Those items might seem rather harmless but they add up quickly and neither of those items have any nutritional value. On the other hand, guacamole (minus the chips) and nuts for example, are high in fats but in reality offer high nutritional value so they’re good, in moderation. This is why it’s important to know exactly what you’re eating.
Then what? Keep it going! Continue slowly eliminating the unhealthy aspects from your diet, exercising, tracking your food intake, and educating yourself on healthy foods. Get a brother or friend to join you. It adds a layer of accountability and even a little competition. There will be times you need the motivation. Don’t be afraid of a cheat day or cheat meal as long as you don’t make a habit out of it. After a while, you’ll find yourself not even wanting those unhealthy foods you used to crave.
Ultimately, It’s about living a healthy life and developing a healthy lifestyle while you’re young and can better train your body and mind. You’ll feel better, be more productive, be more confident, and just be all around happier. For those chapters I’ve visited you’ve already heard this but for the rest of you – buy a tux before you’re 30 and stay that size.
Marc Bodine, Field Executive
I sat down today to finish writing my weekly blog post but with the news of another iconic artist passing this year, I thought I would write something a bit different.
“Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.”- Prince
This is not a eulogy for Prince Rogers Nelson. I realize he is not the only person to pass away today but his life and his art touched millions. Prince’s musical catalog is vast and, up until this afternoon, seemed like it was never going to end. Fifty full albums and countless collaborations with artists from across all genres, his music gave us a way to fully escape into a world only he truly knew. Listening to the curated DJ tributes across most music streaming platforms have made this easier to write. One quipped “Look at all this music he gave us and imagine all the music he never wanted us to see. How many platinum records were waiting for the world in his “maybe later” pile?!”
His music was an experiment in human emotion, creativity and most notably, sound. He experimented with sound like no other musician at the time. “When Doves Cry” has no bass line which was completely unusual for an 80’s dance song but somehow it still pops. It did have a bass line before the final version was finished but in true Prince fashion, he removed it because it was too conventional. He was trying to transcend the establishment of music at the time and create, not duplicate.
This, for me, is a call to action for anyone who thinks they still have time. This thing that connects all of us can be taken away at any moment and it is our duty as humans to live every day to the fullest.
• Make time to shoot a text to your mom to say you’re doing alright.
• Ask that person who you’ve been catching eyes with all semester for coffee after class.
• Do something that you wouldn’t normally do.
• Be different if that is who you are or if that is who you desperately want to be.
• Stand up and lead if that is your calling.
• Write if that is who you are.
• Create if it means you will make sense of this life.
Prince was an artist, performer, dynamic producer, legendary guitar player and someone who never gave in. He was a lot of things to a lot of people but for me he was someone who lived his life with no regrets. Someone who pushed the limits and fought for his craft. He was political, creative, extraordinary, enigmatic, spirited, secretive, and above all else, authentic. Living an authentic life, I feel like is the most important thing for each and every one of us to do.
As a chapter, you cannot compare yourselves to the other groups on campus. Our Sacred Purpose already sets us apart from every fraternity on campuses across North America. Keep innovating and challenging the stereotype. Look to the other men in your chapter and challenge them to be extraordinary. Know who you are and be that person. Be that person no matter the consequences. What have you got to lose? Go out and get after it.
Be Prince; that’s what he would have wanted for you.