Commentary in The Mu of Monmouth College
December 2008 Issue - Volume 1, Issue 1
Students who know me will recognize the heading of this article. It is a phrase I often invoke when discussing the conduct of students involved in fraternities and sororities, and it happens to be a quote from my own fraternal oath which I have sworn to live by.
Greek students occasionally complain that they are held to a different standard. I have always found this interesting, since they have asked to be held to that higher standard by taking the oaths of membership in their respective organizations. Indeed, this higher standard is precisely what the founders of every national sorority and fraternity sought for all of their brothers and sisters, for now and forever.
Of course, each organization’s oath is different. Some are called “promises,” others are called “bonds.” Whatever the name, they are a personal commitment to the brotherhood or sisterhood, to alma mater, and to oneself. The language used varies widely, from ones written in heraldic-style English to others in Latin, but the meaning is always basically the same: I promise to do my best for myself, my brothers and sisters, my college, and the world.
Almost anyone can recount episodes when a Greek student has not lived up to this promise. There have been three fraternity deaths in the United States since August as a result of failure of brothers to live by their fraternal values. However, these tragic events—and even run of the mill incidents—are relatively few and far between. In fact, members of sororities and fraternities at Monmouth College earn higher GPAs than their non-affiliated colleagues and they are more likely to graduate. Something must be going right.
So, what is it? Simply, brothers and sisters are looking out for one another and our community. These men and women want to do the right thing, and usually they do.
Many of our nation’s most successful people became Greeks while in college. They probably goofed up a few times, too. Rather than focus on the occasional gaffe, let us act with honor, be educational in our discipline, and support these students who have promised to do well.
Daniel M. Reck, M.S.Ed., is Assistant Director of Greek Life, Leadership, and Involvement at Monmouth College. He is affiliated with Sigma Nu Fraternity.