My parents were concerned when I told them that I was pledging a fraternity, but I was not surprised. I’m from Ithaca, New York, a double college town, home of both Cornell and Ithaca College, and as such, it’s not uncommon to see stories in the paper about hazing incidents or parties gone wrong. My parents, along with many of us, are surrounded by countless negative stereotypes associated with Greek life.
I tried to explain that Phi Delt is different, but I only got so far. They were never truly on board until they saw how I grew through the pledge process and noticed my drive to improve the organization while settling into the campus community- something I struggled with the previous semester.
Since I was elected public relations chair, I began to examine these issues. I realized that public relations is easy to understand. Simply put, it is the way every brother acts at every minute, and the way we are seen around campus. As such, we must challenge the preconceived images around us, and we must do it the right way.
The best way to convey the message of our Fraternity is to show before you tell. In the case of my parents, they didn’t believe Phi Delt would be a valuable experience until they saw the results.
I projected this idea onto a whole campus, and saw it still holds true. For example, hanging up a poster that says, “Become the greatest version of yourself” does not mean a thing if the chapter does not actively encourage GPA improvement or is not involved on campus. Instead of explaining to a rushee that pledging does not hurt grades, show him the scholarship report from the previous semester. They say actions are stronger then words, but successful actions are the strongest of all.
Dan Miller is a sophomore at Allegheny College. He is an economics major, biology minor and is very involved on campus, balancing both varsity swimming and work in the admissions office as a campus tour guide. He accepted his Phi Delt bid as a second semester freshmen and was elected to the executive board in the in the fall of 2011. His post-college career is currently undecided, but he is interested in attending graduate school for business, public relations or student services.