Phi Delt and the Social Animal

By Sean Wagner, Associate Executive Vice President

While on vacation with my wife earlier this year, I was 326 pages into The Social Animal  by David Brooks when a concept called Social Mobility was introduced. I was familiar with this concept from my days in college, grad school and on the news but never considered the direct application to Phi Delta Theta. It’s actually a fairly hot topic now as the “great divide” between the wealthy and middle class is harped on in political debates and by pundits on broadcasts. Essentially, it’s the concept that birth should not equal destiny and that certain opportunities can be provided to balance that out.

Then about a month later, I was presented with our initial core brand concept of “Greatness” from Pocket Hercules, our branding agency and with our new tagline, “Become the greatest version of yourself.” I realized that there was quite a bit of synergy to these two concepts but in our case, social mobility is provided very simply through a Phi Delt experience. We aren’t talking about the difference between the impoverished and the wealthy. Instead, we are talking about the opportunity to enhance a college experience, improving an individual’s overall potential during their college years and the ramifications for success in their adult life.

By becoming a Phi Delt, an individual is given the following:

  1. Access to like-minded individuals who strive for success through the values they commit to in their Fraternity experience
  2. A social experience that is a great “living laboratory” that promotes personal and professional development

When we say “Become the greatest version of yourself,” this is what we really mean. We have members that come from many different “walks of life”; however, they are attracted to our chapters by meeting like-minded individuals who are bound by common values. Then, through their fraternal experience, our members are afforded an opportunity to leverage these relationships and experiences into an enhanced trajectory for their lives and careers not offered in any other collegian organization.

This experience is why you hear all of the stats regarding fraternity and sorority members as the world’s leaders. Within Phi Delta Theta, we have had eight Pulitzer Prize Winners, three Astronauts, one VP and one President of the United States amongst many other Famous Phis!

The term “elitist” is often associated with fraternities and sororities. The reality is that the only thing here that is elite is our values. Phi Delta Theta was founded on friendship, sound learning and rectitude but all other Greek organizations are founded on very similar concepts of brotherhood/sisterhood, academics and service. Those who commit to these values, commit to one another and to live by them.

The practical application is how we define ourselves when communicating the benefits of membership. Rather than talking about this vast intangible alumni network and vague opportunity to lead, you can talk about experience between you and your brothers and how you can grow and thrive within the context of the chapter. Describe your interaction with alumni who have been willing to offer an internship or job, with chapter brothers who have culturally enriched one another’s lives by sharing interests and about your brothers who have fully embraced their chapter leadership opportunities, leading them to other roles on campus and beyond.

We always define ourselves as a social Fraternity based on interactions with our pledge class, big brother and favorite sorority. Having said that, it may be time to start challenging ourselves and realize that being a member of a social fraternity actually defines who we are individually well beyond our college years as we aspire to become the greatest possible version of ourselves.

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