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An Important Back-to-School Message from General Council President Dr. Chris W. Brussalis

08.24.2018

Welcome back to school! We hope that you had a wonderful summer and are excited for the upcoming school year.

As President of the General Fraternity, I want to share with you a simple expectation I also shared with the Phi Delt Nation this summer at Convention and Kleberg. The expectation is simple:

 

Look ONWARD in all ways to help Phi Delta Theta progress as the premier fraternal leadership organization and, specifically, work diligently to improve the health and safety of college campuses throughout the United States and Canada by creating a culture of responsibility within our chapters.

This diligence has always been present in Phi Delta Theta, and we take pride in making tough decisions that move our Fraternity and the industry forward.

As the fall semester begins, I ask that you keep this expectation front of mind. The fall semester is always a challenging time on university campuses. Be thoughtful and deliberate in how you choose to express yourself and conduct your chapter’s business. Celebrate those who exude our values, provide assistance to those who may be struggling with personal health and safety, and hold accountable those who make decisions out of line with our values.

For many chapters, the fall semester is one of the most important recruitment periods of the year. When considering someone for membership in Phi Delta Theta, I urge you to have the teachings of The Bond and our Cardinal Principles of friendship, sound learning, and rectitude present in all your decisions. They will never lead you astray.

The tragic loss of Max Gruver, almost a year ago, reminds us that there is always more work to be done in the area of new member education. This is a heartbreaking situation that should have never happened and has and will drive reform moving forward. We have updated our Phikeia education minimum standards to include three, instead of the historical six, online modules that will be available very soon. This will create a stronger focus on friendship, sound learning, and rectitude. Each new member is required to complete these modules before initiation. In addition, we have released three standardized programs for Phikeia Induction, Big Brother, and Initiation activities. All chapters are required to follow these new programs.

At the international level, we have worked diligently to create and maintain a culture of responsibility within our chapters that ensures the health and safety of our members and their guests. We take this responsibility very seriously, and we are committed to taking swift action toward those who act against our values and health and safety policies. This is why the General Council has enacted a new policy that will impose a fine for any chapter-wide alcohol-free housing violation of $750 for every twenty-five men. Do not let short-term temptations coax you or your chapter into situations that could have potentially harmful and negative outcomes.

We know that intervening is not always easy. This is why a required Bystander Education online module, Your Brother’s Keeper, was released in Spring 2018. Over the next nine months, a Bystander Education workshop will be delivered in-person at every chapter to provide Phi Delta Theta members with the skill set to intervene in situations involving the misuse of alcohol, hazing, sexual misconduct, and emotional distress. Further, we have enacted a Good Samaritan Policy that further empowers you to intervene when a potentially life-threatening incident might be occurring.

This is a pivotal time for our Fraternity. We must be both confident in our leadership abilities to progress ‘ONWARD’ and thorough in addressing any shortcomings. We continue to place great emphasis on our Don’t Tarnish the Badge amnesty program for chapters that are concerned about their commitment to Phi Delta Theta’s risk management policies and wish to seek help in developing a more positive, values-based experience for their members.

We will be considering more significant change mechanisms and policy changes as we look toward our next strategic plan, Phi Delt 2030, in the upcoming year. In the meantime, Phi Delta Theta will continue to move ‘ONWARD’ as we have done before, while being vigilant in holding our chapters accountable for any action contrary to the values of Phi Delta Theta.

It is my pledge, that under my leadership as president of Phi Delta Theta, we will continue to be dedicated to our values of Friendship, Sound Learning, and Rectitude, and we will do our very best to advance and promote the value of this very special and impactful leadership society.

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