For everyone outside the Northeast, spring weather is in full force. The hours spent planning recruitment events, devising a pledge education syllabus different from previous years, and arguing over March Madness matchups are beginning to pay off (or not, thank you Florida Gulf Coast, and Wichita St.)!
One of the biggest takeaways that I have from this semester’s travels is the level of care Brothers have put into preparing pledge class members to become Brothers of Chi Psi and, as a result, become better men. I had the opportunity to participate in initiations at Alpha Xi Delta and Alpha Psi this spring, and despite being 1,726 miles apart, I felt that same sense of reward upon the initiation’s completion. It was a proud moment to welcome the newly initiated brothers into our Bonds and be able to call them my Brothers for the rest of my life. At Xi Delta’s Initiation Banquet, I joked with Preston Harrell, the Alpha’s #1, that if ever my “cah” broke down in West Texas, he would now be obligated to pick me up. He told me he’d come without hesitation, but only if I start pronouncing my ‘R’s’ at the end of words. I guess moral of the story is that I should never decide to drive in Texas…
As we enter the month of April, I encourage Alphas to start planning ahead. Don’t wait until election night or after elections have taken place! Start pulling together your own personal notes, documents, alumni advisor(s) contact information, and online browser links that you used to generate ideas and implement policy. These should all be consolidated into a printed folder or placed in a Google Doc that you will be able to hand over to your successor. Every officer in the Alpha must do this – it does the Alpha a disservice if only some officers are fully prepared while others are not. If you’re a #1 or an alumnus advisor reading this, it is imperative that you hold Brothers in the Alpha accountable to this practice. As your Alpha Services Coordinator, I will be able to provide you with officer manuals that we have already written at the Central Office. I know at many of the Alphas I’ve visited, these manuals get lost in the mix, but please contact me if you need another copy sent. As a former #4 of Alpha Pi, I’ve decided it is in the best interest of the fraternity to write a #4 officer manual. It will become my personal summer project, and I want to have this ready for our 172nd Convention at Wake Forest University so that I may receive feedback from our Spencer Institute delegates.
If your Alpha elects officers in the spring, as you near that time, encourage younger Brothers or pledge class members to take up a leadership role. Hint at this throughout the pledge education process. Taking a leadership role enables Brothers to take on responsibilities that they would never find anywhere else. It refines management, organization, and communication skills – all of which are essential to become successful in life. For some, it is a life-changing experience and actually affects their decision-making when choosing a career later down the road.
On all my Alpha visits, I typically do two separate values-based and goal setting presentations. One is for the pledge class, while the other is for initiated Brothers. The reason I choose to do two separate presentations is because it allows the pledge class members to bounce ideas off each other as a smaller group, and form their own class goals for both short-term and long-term time frames. It also emphasizes the notion that they have the ability to make an immediate impact within the Alpha, rather than sit in a room full of Brothers, intimidated by the size and personalities that typically fill the room. I have been extremely impressed by the responses and goals pledge class members have shared with me during my travels. They are always thoughtful, honest, and most of all, ambitious. I am excited to see the changes and improvements my Alphas will make transitioning into next fall.
Lastly, my underlying message for a successful transition and a valuable fraternal experience:
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve something. Let Chi Psi find your passions, and feed those passions through leadership. The effort level you give to your position will determine the success you will find. That new-found success will indubitably be a part of the Alpha’s overall success. Your end goal should be to leave your Alpha in a better state than when you entered it. There is no limitation on what you are able to achieve together as brothers.
I hope everyone has had a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover with friends and family. I wish you all the best of luck the remainder of the academic year, and it has been a pleasure working with you all. Baseball season is finally back so I’m a happy camper. GO SOX!
Justin M. Zolot, Pi ’12
Alpha Visitor, Alpha Services Coordinator
Chi Psi Fraternity