One of my best friends is getting married. He also happens to be a chapter brother. As my friend and brother prepares for a new life with his soon-to-be wife, it’s given me the opportunity to reflect on our relationship as friends, and more importantly, as brothers.
This is a tricky one as there are certainly differences between being a “brother” and a “friend” but the differences are so very hard to identify and dissect. If you look up friend in the dictionary you’ll find that is it defined as one attached to another by affection or esteem; while brother is simply one related to another by common ties or interests. Neither of these really help.
As a member of the General Council, I participate in all of our educational programming for undergraduates and alumni volunteers. Without question, the biggest issue we discuss is the idea of holding each other more accountable and responsible. Time and again a discussion that starts about member apathy or counterproductive Phikeia education devolves into exploring a willingness to hold brothers accountable to the standards of their chapter and our International Fraternity.
All too often a chapter struggles because the members don’t hold each other accountable. At the end of the day, I think this is the difference between just being a friend and being a brother. Being a Brother in the Bond demands that we hold each other accountable to certain standards of conduct. In fact, we’ve pledged to look out for one another, to be an advisor and counselor and to be a conservator of each other’s morals. I think we forget about these pledges or more importantly we dismiss them as unnecessary or not our job. Which I think is cowardly.
I actually think this is our biggest job as fraternity men. I think this was ultimately what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they created our organization. They wanted a support system to help them grow. They understood their own folly and fallibility and knew that together they would be stronger, smarter, and ultimately better people. I contend that this idea of being better because of our Brothers’ critical involvement in our lives is as relevant today as it was over 160 years ago.
We need to accept the challenge from our Founders to support our brothers when a helping hand is needed and confront when confrontation is demanded. We need to create a culture in our chapters where we have functioning judicial boards that are not merely paper tigers but a living, active tool that helps reinforce the obligations and responsibilities of our membership. We should encourage chapter-wide efforts to enforce our standards and we should learn to recognize and appreciate the men in our ranks who are courageous enough to be a brother, to provide us with the insight and input that can make us better men.
This brings me back to my brother who is getting married. I love Kevin because he holds me accountable. He’s been this way since we met as freshman at Kent State and he continues this service in my life to this very day. Plus, he demands this of me as well. He wants my counsel and advice and while at times we don’t like to hear what the other has to say, we know that it is with true intentions that we confront one another. It makes me feel closer to my brother and it makes me feel like I am accepting the challenge of our Founding Fathers – A challenge to be better than ordinary and to help those who have also accepted their charge to do the same. It is through each other that those six men speak to us. They challenge us and we should challenge each other a little more.
Rich Fabritius is a member-at-large on the General Council. His other volunteer service to Phi Delt includes Education Commissioner and Province President. Rich lives in Atlanta with his wife, Heather, and their daughters, Austin and Reese. A past consultant and director of chapter services for the General Headquarters Staff; he is a graduate of Kent State University and a member of the Ohio Lambda Chapter. Rich is Vice President, Managing Director of Brunner, an advertising and marketing agency. His hobbies include traveling, golf, and fixing up his old pontoon boat.