A couple of weeks ago, Senior Alpha Visitor Justin Zolot took to the blog to explain the specifics of each Rowe Regional Leadership Conference. It was a terrific guide that outlined the Whos, What, When, Wheres, and as anybody who has been through CO programming knows the all important WHY. I wanted to compliment his post with my own undergraduate experience with the Rowe Regional Conferences and how they have profoundly altered my own Chi Psi experience.
Similar to how I’m sure a lot of Chi Psis end up attending their first Regional Conference, the decision for me to attend was not entirely voluntary. I attended the Midwest Regional Conference at Alpha Epsilon in 2010 as a pledge. At our business meeting the week before, the #1 at the time came up to me and said something along the following, “You’re the Pledge Class President. Leaders go to these things. I’ll see you Saturday morning at 6. Expect to drive three of us.” And just like that I was going to the Regional Conference. I had no idea what to expect. But I knew that I was driving to Ann Arbor.
We showed up at the conference as breakfast was finishing up and went straight into my first CO programming session led by Brad Beskin with a style I would best describe as fierce. It was my first introduction into the idea of there being Chi Psi outside Miami University. It was fascinating to learn about the way that Greek Life is a different animal at each host institution. But to be honest the biggest takeaway that day did not come from Brad Beskin (though I do vividly remember the question he posed, “If you had a magic wand, what would your Alpha look like in 5, in 10 years?”). No, the impact of that day came from our #1 taking a walk with pledges from several Alphas and asking each of us how we were going to step up to the plate and create our fraternal experience. That night I sat down for dinner next to one of the Alpha Visitors at the time, Jon Moore. It was my first time meeting Jon and he has grown to be a great mentor for me not only as an undergraduate but also in transitioning to being an Alpha Visitor. The whole weekend inspired me to take a more
active role in leading my Alpha forward.
The best experience I had with the Rowe Regional Conferences came the following year. I had chosen to focus my efforts on recruitment and after a successful rush in January was elected to be the new #33 (Recruitment Chairman). Instead of being an attendee, Rho Delta hosted. Delegates from Iota, Nu, Zeta Delta, Epsilon, and the now dormant Epsilon Delta all came. Once again with apologies this time to Derek Taylor, but the highlight was not CO programming. This time I forged a great friendship with the delegates from Alpha Nu. Jake Shanesy, Garret Schultz, and Chris Sapper made the flight down from frigid Minnesota. I remember having an impromptu conversation that lasted hours. It was later relayed to me that after that conference they made the decision to buy into the direction that Justin was advising them towards. In a large part it was because they felt that the brotherhood displayed to them by not only Rho Delta but all the Brothers the entire weekend was something that they wanted to build at Alpha Nu. Over the next several months we kept in touch and three of us ended up driving 14 hours up to see the Miami Redhawks lose a close football game to the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
I have still kept in touch with them. Garret is a world traveler and is currently working in Brazil as a yoga/English teacher. Jake and Chris both live together in Minneapolis with another Nu brother.
Without the Rowe Regional Conferences I would not have had such an enriching national experience. I would not have thought about Greek Life outside of Miami University and taken ideas that worked on other campuses and applied them to my own Alpha. I would not have anyone to visit in Minneapolis when I visit my father who just started a new job in the area. But most importantly, I would probably not be in the position with the Fraternity I am today. I can almost guarantee you that your time will be best served attending your respective region’s conference than anything else you will be doing that weekend. The programming will be helpful and valuable, but most important is the opportunity to engage with Chi Psis from other Alphas. This type of national experience is something truly unique to Chi Psi. Brothers in the West Coast, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic Regions—I look forward to seeing you this spring!