On almost any given day, I can find my dad sitting in front of his laptop or the TV in the kitchen, shaking his head at some story on the news about some fraternity getting in some trouble for doing some stupid thing that should’ve never happened in the first place. The recent negative headlines surrounding Greek Life are shedding light on its darker elements, which is understandable and sometimes necessary for improvement, but these headlines are also unintentionally casting shadows on the aspects of Greek Life that make it so admirable.
Like many bilingual children or Olympic athletes, I do have somewhat of an advantage when it comes to Chi Psi: I was introduced at an early age. I attended my first Chi Psi Convention at just 2 months old, “Chi Psis Ever” entered my repertoire at around the same time as “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and I learned the names of the Chi Psi Alphas and their respective colleges before I learned the names of all 50 states and their respective capitals.
I’ll admit that when I was younger, I may have lacked some appreciation for Chi Psi. My family vacations were (and probably always will be) planned around Convention. I watched my father buy a nicer TV than will ever be in my bedroom for the Lodge at W&L. I spent a number of weekends at home without my dad around while he was with his Brothers. I mean, I always knew that Chi Psi wasn’t ALL bad, but I didn’t get why it was so important. As I got older, the idea of the Chi Psi Brotherhood made more sense, but it never truly came into perspective until last year.
Last summer, my family learned that my dad was to be presented with the Distinguished Service Award at the 173rd Chi Psi Convention. His Brothers had also planned a surprise party since he was retiring from his Chair position, so this Convention was going to be eventful for us. My mom, siblings, and I had to keep everything a secret from my dad for months while the Brothers in the Central Office and the ones especially close to my dad (Is this an appropriate time to give a shout-out to Sam Perkins and Danny Einstein?) were planning, and it was almost impossible for me. I knew the award was a huge deal and couldn’t wait to see my dad recognized for all the work he does.
When my siblings and I first got to the surprise party, I was kind of shocked. There were tons of guys (that I could’ve sworn I’d never even seen) who approached me to tell me how incredible my dad is, how hard he works, and how grateful they were to have him. I got to meet even more friendly, respectable Chi Psi Brothers and hear so many great stories about my dad that night, and the weekend only went up from there.
The night of the banquet, when my dad actually received the award, I don’t know if I have ever been more proud of him. My siblings and I had to wait for my parents to leave our hotel room, change into our formal attire that we had hidden in our suitcases, and sneak in to where the banquet was being held. We had never been to the banquet before and showing up this year would’ve tipped everyone off, including my father, so we did our best to remain undetected. When my dad’s name was called, our mom opened the door to the banquet hall, and we entered the room to hear thunderous applause and snapping as dad walked on stage. Now, my dad almost never cries, but I swear, from where I was, he looked a little misty-eyed. My mom and I were pretty misty-eyed ourselves. And by misty-eyed, I mean basically weeping. Being behind the scenes with Andy Dewing, my family knows about all the time and effort that he puts into Chi Psi, but this was one of the first times that we really got to see the results. It was as if we finally got to confirm that he gains back even more than he gives to his fraternity, and we knew that it was worthwhile based on all of the people that were just as excited as we were to see him receive that award. It was even better getting to know those people and seeing that they share his love of Chi Psi and all that the Brotherhood stands for.
I know that my dad is amazing. He’s loyal and honest. He can’t help but help others. He always finds the best in people. He is intelligent, kind, hardworking, and (don’t tell him I said this but) one of the funniest people on the planet. I’ve always known how great my dad is, but there’s something truly eye-opening about getting to meet Brothers, old and new, who can describe him in the same way and have been inspired by Chi Psi and my dad’s personal pursuit of excellence.
My family jokes that dad is a walking advertisement for Chi Psi Fraternity, but it isn’t just him. On chipsi.org, under the list of the fraternity’s values, the website states, “Chi Psi Fraternity stands as proof that commitment to mutual assistance in these shared values, given in youth, does not alter or diminish with age”. The more Chi Psi Brothers that I meet, the more confident I am that this statement is true. Whether I meet a Brother who hasn’t been to half as many Conventions as I have or a Brother who is a seasoned veteran, I am faced with an upstanding individual who upholds the morals and values of Chi Psi as diligently as his own and strives to make a positive influence on his surroundings. Through my dad and Chi Psi, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know some remarkable people. Thanks to Chi Psi, I’ve met Brothers who have biked 1,500 miles across the country for the Embrace Kids Foundation. I know the actual Santa Claus. I have a spectacular godfather. I even have what I am now deeming a “double uncle” (my dad’s biological and Chi Psi Brother, Henry). All of the Chi Psis in my life, especially my dad, represent the true meaning of fraternity. I hope that Chi Psi can help inspire others to return to the original ideals of Brotherhood that inspired their own organizations, so people can feel as at home in any fraternity house as I do in a Lodge.