Engaging Theta Xi Alumni
By Brian Lichter
A common theme is present among nearly all chapters of fraternities from coast to coast. That theme is “Now what?”
All too often, our fraternal experience is the short-lived springboard of life in college. Upon graduation, we leave that facet of life behind, almost deliberately
as we forge on through to life’s next milestone. The calls from our Associate Member (formerly pledge for the non-Associate Member crowd)brothers are
spent catching up (on everything but the fraternity). We move through life attending bachelor parties and weddings of our brothers, seeing each other
around town at events with our kids, only giving thought to good ol’ Theta Xi when we are asked for money or to come to an annual event. It seems as though
we un-plug ourselves from the institution (and maybe stigma) associated with our college years. I’ve even heard people say they have “grown up.”
It seems the notion of fraternity, for most, is that it is something you do in college, even though we have life memberships. Even though we pledge to be there to help guide the next generation. I have been involved as an alumnus since 2004. Even today, when I explain to people my affiliation, I say that I am involved with my college fraternity. Where did we go wrong? When was it decided that “fraternity” meant undergrad?
I look towards the typically black fraternities that seem to have created a culture where the undergrad experience is their Associate Member period and that they are initiated into the fraternity upon graduation. If you have ever been to a college graduation with one of these fraternities, you will see the alumni present, cheering on their undergrads as they walk through graduation ceremony. And not just one or two alumni, but an entire section of alumni, wearing their colors and letters often times chanting the names of their brothers. Others of is in the crowd sense that something monumental has happened just happened for these kids.
I can honestly say, like many of you, that some of my best friends I met through Theta Xi. The difference is I met most of them as an alumnus. Some were undergrads while I was a chapter advisor. Some are from other chapters. Some are decades younger, some are decades older than me. Almost all of them I met after graduation, and each of them have made an indelible impact on my life. Now, I haven’t been to a college graduation since my own, but I do pull out the letters and wear them from time to time — typically around a Theta Xi activity. Although it has never happened, I guess that I, too, am waiting for someone to question me as to why I am wearing my letters (at my age).
In today’s society, our undergrads look or, and sometimes beg for alumni to be involved in their chapters. They have realized that they don’t have all the answers. They want guidance. They are part of a group that has grown up with mentors and with parents highly active in their lives. This “need” is welcomed, so I challenge you to consider what you can do. First, understand the role of the alumni as one that is there to advise — not control the chapter. Then, consider reaching out to your alumni association (if one exists), or an association near where you live and offer what you can any of these ideas listed.
There are many opportunities to help strengthen Theta Xi from coast to coast. And YOU can make a difference. If you wish to be involved and need assistance, or have questions, know that you can reach out to the Fraternity Headquarters staff or me for guidance.
1. Look for and join their Facebook fan page.
2. Attend a dinner.
3. Attend a chapter meeting. Your presence shows that someone actually cares.
4. Become a mentor to one of the chapter officers.
5. Provide professional expertise. Are you an accountant? Do they need help with budgeting or taxes? Are you an attorney? Do they need help writing a lease agreement? In construction? Can you show them how to repair damaged drywall? Can you provide a presentation on S.T.D’s, or test taking? Or sales skills for
recruitment? Or resume writing?
6. Join the alumni association. Often times the officers on that board have been in places for years, waiting for someone to pass the torch to.
7. Can you provide resources? Maybe you are upgrading furniture and want to get rid of some used items.
8. Are you a referee? Maybe they want an adult to sit on their j-board.
9. Refer high school students to the rush chairmen.
10. Contact the national fraternity and tell them you wish to become more involved.
11. Seek out graduating students to fill positions within the companies you work for.
Brian Lichter, Alpha Epsilon 1097, is the Theta Xi Vice-President for Alumni Affairs. He owns a online coupon and sales service website called Key to Omaha
(www.keytoomaha.com) in Omaha, Nebraska