During a recent visit to Ann Arbor, Michigan (location of the 170th Convention, August 3-6, 2011) I got a wonderful tour of the U of M campus. The highlights of the tour included the Law school– and it’s very cool underground library– and the UM Museum of Art. As interesting as those two were, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the tour was the Paleontology Museum (also known as “holy cow, dinosaurs were freaking huge”) I know, I know, dinosaurs are so elementary school. This, however, was my first encounter with enormous fossil creations. The experience was overwhelming.
As I wandered the museum with Br. Ramzy Khabbaz (E `12) he expressed his disappointment that more students didn’t know this treasure existed. Ranked the fourth largest university collection in the U.S., this museum had some stuff that really blew my mind. “You’re trying to tell me that something this cool goes unnoticed here amongst students?” He replied “yea, people don’t even know that it exists.”
This got me thinking. If the typical student doesn’t know that there are humongous dinosaur fossils lurking on their campus, how in the heck can we expect them to know that your Alpha of Chi Psi exists? To take it a step further, imagine this–if I polled every student on your campus how many would know your Alpha exists? What percentage of students could name at least one Brother in your Alpha?
I had to learn more. “So does the museum advertise anywhere on campus?” Not really. “How did you find out about it?” I just stumbled upon it because one of the Brothers is a Paleontology major.
Here are some things that I’m willing to guess:
1) Like the museum and its workers, you probably think your Alpha is a pretty big deal.
2) Also like the museum, many of your Brothers probably stumbled upon Chi Psi because the knew one or two people in it.
3) Your Alpha, like the museum, has some pretty cool stuff going for it.
So what’s the difference? That depends.
If your biggest selling point is your Lodge, chances are that you’re in trouble. Similar to the museum, it’s just a building. There are lots of cool buildings on campuses –academic, fraternity houses, stadiums, whatever.
It isn’t the building that makes the experience, it’s what’s inside. Here is where the museum and your Alpha differ; fossils aren’t interactive (unless you’re Ben Stiller). No matter how hard you try, you are not going to have a conversation with fossils, study with them, go to bars with them or play IMs with them.
Like the museum, it doesn’t matter how much you advertise, how big of banners you hang on your building or how many fliers you hand out. At the end of the day, it’s all about personal relationships and word of mouth.
Turn to page 272 in your Chi Psi Story. It talks about Chi Psi being a ‘thing of spirit.’ It states that Chi Psi is for handclasps and for song.
Fraternity is about relationships, the relationships you have with your Brothers and the relationships you have with other students. Want to improve your reputation on campus? Quit focusing on ‘getting your name out there’ and start focusing on getting your Brothers ‘out there’ and onto campus. Do a philanthropy and outreach ON CAMPUS (see: Alpha Xi’s hot cocoa giveaway). Get involved with other university organizations. Go to sporting events. Eat together at the student union. Be seen and be seen interacting with non-Chi Psis.
At the end of the day if you want people to know your Alpha exists then you’ve got to be present on campus. Take steps to grow your personal network and one person at a time, your Alpha’s reputation will improve.