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Alumni Involvement – The Cornerstone

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From The Courage to Be Brothers by John Robson which was reprinted in The Lifetime Responsibility of Brotherhood. It is interesting to note that while much has changed and continues to change in the Greek world, that the essence of quality Brotherhood remains constant.

The fraternity chapter cannot be supported and stabilized from afar. When support is required, it must be provided through leadership exercised on the scene, first through the alumni and then through the undergraduate leaders.

Alumni should be pleased to be enlisted in the cause of Brotherhood. The alumni thus recruited would provide additional resources never before available. In their relationship to the fraternity chapter, they would come to feel the same relationship that the college trustee has to the college. They would lend impetus to the organization.

The alumnus must be an ideal man to be an ideal Brother. He must be a man in whom the cardinal principles are so strong that they are the deciding influences in his life. The fact that the ideal Brother must also possess this qualification is obvious, but it is a point which must be well made and repeated often.

The saying that the good chapter Brother is the father to a successful alumnus is true. A poor chapter Brother seldom becomes a good alumnus; in act, many chapter Brothers never become “alumni” at all. Nor are chronically poor chapters able to produce good alumni. An alumnus who had a poor chapter experience frequently becomes a bitter and outspoken critic of ANY and ALL college fraternities for a lifetime. Such a man was never and ideal Brother.

The ideal alumnus thus described is one out of a hundred in the roster of the Fraternity. But there is another Ideal Alumnus, who ranks above him, for he is one in a thousand. No honor seeker, he is recognized by his work He has the COURAGE to be a Brother.

Every chapter could have this ideal Brother. The chapter that has one is on a stable course and is never shaky. The ideal Brother is a stabilizer and inspirer. Although he may be a graduate of another institution, he willingly goes into a mediocre or faltering chapter, and although he is far removed from his undergraduate years becomes an “active” member of the chapter in a real sense. And because of his devotion and love for the Fraternity he is quickly, tacitly accepted as such, and to the unsure Brothers he says, “I will show you the way the chapter should go. Make it go this way. Teach your Brothers who come after you to make it go this way, and they will never be at a loss. The chapter will always be strong.” His manner is decisive, yet he is never a dictator. He does not “run” the chapter but teaches the leaders how to run it.

The ideal alumnus is willing and able to teach the chapter – which might not otherwise be taught – how to continually educate all chapter members, how to maintain successful work and study habits, how to plan a balanced program of activities, and how to keep up courage and spirit.

He is the key man on an alumni board of his own chapter and sometimes another chapter, and he is the stabilizer of the alumni board. He begins at his own chapter but since he is restless and impatient to broaden his service to the Fraternity, he will offer to help other chapters. He will become a district governor. He will install a library in the chapter house and to get it started will donate his best books from his personal library. He will see that the Ritualistic paraphernalia are impeccable. He understands how the kitchen and dining room are to be run. He will see that cleanliness is observed.

He will drop in on meeting nights, chat with many men. He will consult with the [VP for Member Development] to make certain he is educating men properly.

He will show the chapter how to organize an effective alumni program and publish and circulate a newsletter. He will see that the mailing list is up to date. When the question is asked, “What shall we do to improve our public relations?” He will reply, “The first and only really necessary step in fraternity public relations is in being a good chapter and in each member being the best possible kind of Fraternity Man himself.”

The ideal alumnus will attend the national convention and because of his expert knowledge and devotion will be sought out by virtually every committee. He may be nominated and elected to serve as a national officer.

Most of all this alumnus will attract other alumni to aid the chapter. They think they came because of his fine example, but the alumnus knows they are contributing because he actively recruited them.

This is the ideal alumnus.

Note: The Ideal alumnus is as important to the perpetuation of our Fraternity as the ideal undergraduate Brother is to the success and quality of his chapter. Can it be said that these ideal men have incorporated the ideals, principles, and philosophies of the Fraternity as expressed in our Ritual into their daily lives? Thus it is evident that our chapters should carefully plan their brotherhood development programs to not only introduce pledges to the Fraternity but to further educate the members of the chapter in the lifetime responsibility of Brotherhood.

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