By Mary Beth Seiler
Director of Greek Life – University of Michigan
“Courage” means many things to many people, and as I think about its meaning in Greek Life, Phi Delta Theta comes to mind. I remember clearly the 1998 closing of the University of Michigan Phi Delta Theta Chapter. That fall, serious violations of risk management policy couldn’t be ignored, and this large and popular fraternity with a long and proud history was suddenly gone. It took courage on the part of the international organization to do the right thing. I thought it was the right thing then and now, twelve years later, there is no doubt that it was the right thing.
That wasn’t the end of the story however. When Phi Delta Theta returned to the University of Michigan campus, it did so as an alcohol-free facility. Once again, this was a courageous move on the part of the international organization. Alcohol-free fraternities did not exist at the University of Michigan, and Phi Delta Theta knew that this would be difficult. The courage of its convictions existed not just at the international level but at the local level as well. University of Michigan alumni of Phi Delta Theta were steadfast in their desire to reestablish the chapter as alcohol-free, no matter how difficult. It turned out that it was, in fact, difficult to experience the success it desired for the new chapter. In the next few years other organizations jumped on, and subsequently off, the alcohol-free band wagon. Phi Delta Theta, however, did not waiver.
Today, Phi Delta Theta is a successful chapter in an alcohol-free facility. Members are leaders in the Greek and Campus Communities. Their house is a showcase. Most importantly, they are attracting the men who are willing and able to live by the values of the fraternity. I am extremely proud of the courage that Phi Delta Theta at the University of Michigan has demonstrated in the past and continues to demonstrate every day. It is with the utmost respect that I congratulate the Fraternity on its 10th anniversary of alcohol-free housing. You are truly among Michigan’s “leaders and best!”
Mary Beth’s blog post is part of a series to celebrate Phi Delta Theta’s Brotherhood: Our Substance of Choice campaign, a 10-year celebration of alcohol-free housing. Read the white paper, written by Dr. Edward G. Whipple, Past President of Phi Delta Theta and Vice President for Student Affairs at Bowling Green State University, recapping 10 years of alcohol-free housing.