Commentary in The Mu of Monmouth College
January 2009 Issue - Volume 1, Issue 2
1893, 1870, 1867, 1898, 1865, 1901, 1848. Our fraternities are old. Founded long ago by women and men dedicated to some simple ideas such as honesty, hard work, curiosity, and loyalty. They were interested in achieving greatness and building a better world. Recently, I was touched by some words on this subject:
“We understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things—some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor—who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
“Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what [we have] already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
“Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends—honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism—these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths.”
As a new band of officers steps into their roles, our women’s and men’s fraternities face many challenges, some of them not easily defined, and others not yet defined at all. Browsing these pages shows academic performance both brilliant (Kappa’s almost-3.3 GPA) and lackluster. Other issues challenge our greatness: Risk management, irresponsible drinking, abuse of living facilities. Yet our Greek community excels in areas such as philanthropic giving and providing service to our campus and our community.
While it is certain that progress has been made, we are not yet great. However, we clearly have what it takes to become great: Our old truths—our fraternal and panhellenic values.
As President Obama says, we must return to these truths. Then, with courage and labor, we will finally achieve greatness.
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.