One of the huge benefits that comes along with the fraternal experience is being able to live with your Brothers. Now, I know that there are some Alphas that do not have a Lodge, and I get that. A Lodge was not apart of my Alpha’s experience until my senior year. For the purposes of this post, try and think about how it can apply to your experience.
No Lodge to have lunches and dinners? No problem for Alpha Phi at Hamilton College. They eat at the same dining hall everyday at the same time and have better attendance at those lunches than any Alpha that I have visited. Does your school not offer fraternal housing? Many of our Alphas take advantage of on-campus lounges or seek other unofficial off campus housing that functions as the Lodge. Wherever the majority of your Alpha’s activities take place is the de facto Lodge. I do not think we talk enough about the idea of “The Lodge” as being a home.
What do I mean by that? Let me paint a picture about an all too typical day in Chi Psi. Lunch gets served in the dining room at noon. You come down from your room and grab a quick bite and head to class, maybe seeing three or four other Brothers in the process. After going to class, you stop off in the library for a couple of hours before coming back to the Lodge around seven. Since dinner is served at six, you either scavenge some leftovers or go eat some fast food. Then you go get a quick lift in before heading to bed. Any brotherhood that happens in between is left to chance. Does this Lodge environment seem like one where a new member or live-out Brother would feel like it would be worthwhile to just drop in between classes?
Imagine if your family was as large as the amount of people that live in your Lodge. Now ask yourself if it would be weird if you came home and people ONLY left their rooms to eat/make food. Believe it or not this type of environment is all too familiar, with Brothers increasingly forgoing using common areas and spending most of their time isolated in their individual rooms. STOP treating your Lodge like it’s a dormitory or apartment building. Here is a list of ways that your Alpha can make your Lodge into more of a Home:
- Make the place look lived in. Make sure that the Fraternity displays photos/awards/etc in a way that honors the Alpha’s history, but is still a place that houses 18-22 year olds. Have some fun with it and keep it tasteful.
- Create an environment that makes Brothers socialize in common areas. Make those common areas WORTH socializing in. Invest in a pool table, tv set up, etc. I have seen Alphas get into the weirdest games that have become a decent part of their experience.
- Invite live-outs and new members over to the Lodge frequently. Create a culture where any Chi Psi knows that there is always something going on at the Alpha’s Home. That way it becomes a destination to kill a couple of hours between classes.
- Encourage Brothers to use the Lodge to host events and speaker series. During my two visits to Rutgers this year, Alpha Rho utilized their Lodge in a couple of different ways. They allowed a Brother’s Improv Comedy group to do a show, as well as hosted a “coffee house” charity event where artists performed.
- Fix your dining situation. If Brothers are not eating together, then the meal service is not providing the intended value. If that means eating less frequently, then do it! There is no right answer to this one as each group is different. Mealtime can be a powerful component to the fraternal experience, but only when Brothers can actually devote the time to it.
- Take good care of your Home by creating pride in cleanliness. Have a clear system of Lodge jobs, and make sure that your cleaning supplies are well-maintained. Even if the Alpha has a cleaning service, the facility should be respectful of them. The Alpha pays cleaning services to make the Lodge look presentable to outside guests, not to clean up every mess that is made.
Do not waste any time talking about these things. DO THEM! Leading by example is the easiest way to create change in your organization.