Because I work in higher education, and I will be celebrating my forty-second back-to-school experience, I wonder how this fall will be different than all those in years gone by.
As a kid, I looked forward to seeing who my teacher was going to be and whether that teacher would have a reward drawer filled with candy.
As a high school kid of Asian descent in a Midwestern Indiana farm town, I experienced the oft-felt anxiety and fear of rejection. However, sports teams, teammates, and coaches were key to helping me navigate those years.
In college, going back to school meant gathering the boys for the first chapter meeting of the year, recruitment barbecues, and wondering which classes I could blow off and still get an A and which ones I would need to focus on and eke out a B.
In my role at the University of Puget Sound, we spend all summer preparing for the next academic year and do everything we can to help first-year students assimilate and encourage the more seasoned students to help those new faces on the campus.
As a Phi Delt volunteer, I’ve assisted chapters with officer transitions, recruitment, retention, and event planning, all part of the fall experience on a college campus with Greek life. Seeing everyone proudly wearing their letters demonstrates the value of the camaraderie of small, tight knit, organized groups.
As president of the Fraternity’s General Council, I feel nostalgic as we head into this 2022-23 school year, hopeful that the worst of the COVID pandemic is behind us. Even though there were many discouraging aspects of the coronavirus restrictions, as we reflect, it is becoming apparent that there were many positive outcomes because of how the constraints forced us to think differently.
To mention a few, we enhanced our online educational resources to include credentials our men can use during their job searches, demonstrating mastered leadership skills. In addition, there are now online methods for our conferences and special events to virtually include many more undergraduates and alumni. And finally, we’ve seen our undergraduate leaders and alumni try new and innovative ways to engage their brothers and the community. It’s truly been amazing to watch how our organization has thrived under this pressure.
This school year will bring us many new brothers, all having had their high school experiences vastly impacted by the pandemic and hopeful for a unique and wonderful experience on campus. I encourage you, our undergraduate members and leaders, to remember what it is like to be new. Seek opportunities to make these first days on campus full of encouragement, find ways to make a younger student more comfortable, and demonstrate by example what it means to be a Phi. Recruitment doesn’t have to be complicated. It can start with a hello and lead to a lifetime of friendship. The brotherhood and friendship extended to new students the minute you hand them bid cards should come without conditions. At that point, it becomes our job to bring out the best in them and do so in a way that brings honor to the values we all pledged ourselves to live out in our daily lives.
Best of luck to all of you as we begin another year full of promise. I look forward to hearing of your successes, and as always, I am proud to be a Phi!
Moe Stephens II, Southern Indiana ’99
General Council President 2021–23