It’s partially my fault.
As an Alpha , I did MY part to make sure that one who saw ME, saw a positive reflection of the organization. The line known as “300” had individuals that shined brightly and generated interest in not only Alpha Phi Alpha, but Greek life in general. At the time, it appeared that this attitude would result in a changing of the guard, a throwback to the days of impromptu step shows, creative community events, and truly “Running the Yard”.
In retrospect, my actions and those of many Greek members are partially a misunderstanding of the commonly used poem “I, Me, My”. The poem’s words vary depending on which fraternity or sorority recites it, but its theme is to highlight selflessness and teamwork. Yes my fraternal friends, we have become quite selfish and it has severely damaged the legacy of one of the greatest phenomena of college life; the Black Greek letter organizations. My line experienced success and popularity during our time, but we did not mentor and prepare subsequent lines to the best of our ability, which has created unnecessary challenges for them. This lack of preparation goes on at colleges across the nation, and has resulted in what many call a decline in popularity of Greek Life.
While there are hundreds of thousands of prominent and influential Greeks over the spectrum of politics, entertainment, and medicine, there is an equal or greater amount of members who (perhaps due to lack of mentorship) are putting a damper in the reputation of BGLOs. Through incidents such as those at Mississippi State and Johnson C. Smith, the obsession with the “benefits” of Greek life, or the division caused by varying pledge processes, we have lost sight of the aims our founders laid for us. As a result, students are losing interest and are questioning the importance of joining the Divine Nine, a microcosm of the struggle Historically Black Colleges are faced with.
So what do we do? There’s no importance of discussing a problem if we do not highlight solutions and implement them. Going forward, we must do some soul-searching. What do these letters mean to us? What do you feel when you put on your frat hoodie or sorority line jacket? If you feel a sense of pride or joy, then I send out a call to action to every person who has the PRIVILEGE to wear these special letters. I ask that we all take three “steps”:
1.) Make your next action your best action– Each statement, movement, and action you make goes beyond you. For better or worse, you’re no longer “Steve from Philly” on the yard; you’re “Kappa Steve”. Your organization is your family; you wouldn’t act out in front of Grandma, would you?
2.) Stop worrying about “Skating”- Yes, this is a very controversial issue within organizations, but half of the OUTLANDISH things a person has experienced during a “process” have NO bearing on their work ethic during programs (It’s normally a person who was there in the struggle acting lazy!) More importantly, keep these arguments behind closed doors. Your audience (who is usually non-Greek) only sees two people with the same letters fighting each other, and is turned off to your fraternity/sorority
3.) Get involved in the improvement of your campus- Most of our organizations center around the betterment of our people and our world. Let’s act on these, y’all. Our faces need to be seen all year ‘round; not just during your week, Homecoming, and Greek Fest. If you’re currently on campus, push your chapter to do a program a month (AT LEAST)
This can be a positive start for the renovation of our perception. Put in the work to be the greatest; Jay-Z and Kanye are in “Paris” because of the years of work in the US. With these steps and more, we can work to return to “Running the Yard”, instead of just running around it.