Chi Psi will be celebrating its 170th birthday in a few weeks. Brothers around the country will gather to partake in Founders’ Day events including singing Chi Psi songs and toasting Philip Spencer. Oh, the rich traditions of our Brotherhood!
However, at a time when Chi Psi traditions are in full bloom, I ask you to remember that Chi Psi has also been a very progressive organization with a number of Greek or fraternal firsts. The question I pose to you today is this… Where do tradition and progression intersect?
When it comes to Greek life there are usually two ways that things get done:
1) The way it has always been done
2) The correct way
If I had a dollar for every time I heard “Well that’s how we’ve always done_____” I would be a wealthy man. Put your favorite Chi Psi word in the blank—recruitment, room selection, pledge education, initiation—they all work.
Sometimes these two paths overlap; if this is your Alpha, congratulations.
More than likely this is not your Alpha. This leads me to ask “Why is your Alpha blindly following the traditions of the past?”
Think back to the day you accepted your bid. Remember that feeling of shaking the Brothers’ hands and saying “I accept”? I still remember the moment when I told, then #1, Kyle Cuthbert that I wanted to join Chi Psi.
What you might not realize about that moment, though, is that with every time your Alpha gives out a bid, it is giving away part of itself. With each bid, power transfers from current Brothers to potential new members. Thus, over time, the organization changes hands. New leadership emerges, new ideas take hold, and the organization grows and takes on a new life. In that moment you are saying “I will not be an undergraduate Chi Psi forever. I trust you to take the torch and do what’s best for this Brotherhood.”
So where does the intersection of tradition and progression exist? To understand Chi Psi at its core, I recommend three documents: 1) The Chi Psi Story, 2) The Program for Pledge Education workbook and 3) The Ritual and Traditions Manual. If your Alpha is working off the spirit and letter of these documents then you’re all set.
If other “traditions” exist outside of those documents, I recommend that your undergraduate and alumni Brothers have a serious discussion about WHY certain things are “traditions”, what the origins are, and whether or not such activities should continue to take place.
While our undergraduate Brothers are those who are ultimately responsible for their Alpha’s success, the role of the alumni body is to provide perspective and encourage our young Brothers. Our organization is constantly evolving. It’s time that we evolve our collective thinking.