One area of continuing frustration for house corporations is the immaturity and bad judgment that periodically punctuates Active Chapter life. It’s the same old story: A Quaestor’s failure to collect housebills causes the chapter to default on rent. Some young brothers manage to pull a stunt that attracts the wrong attention from the police and university. Hazing raises its ugly head. Alcohol takes its toll with lasting and tragic results.
Yet, most of us were in similar shoes as undergrads. We made our share of mistakes as we tried on manhood for size. Like the boys in “Lord of the Flies”, any of us made significant life changing decisions for the very first time as undergraduates. Some of us learned from our mistakes while others didn’t seem to get it.
“The older I get, the better I was” reflects a common attitude among some Sigma Chi alumni. These brothers loudly decry the bad behavior of “kids these days”. Time blurs memory of their own undergraduate days when actions and decisions were equally immature.
Sigma Chi always has been, and always will be a training ground for leaders. One of its core purposes is to improve individual performance by teaching standards of truth and excellence. But coming to real understanding of those standards takes time, patience and maturity.
Young men do what young men do. Maturity comes from experiences with lasting impressions. When impressions aren’t lasting enough, mistakes are repeated until they are. Thankfully, most young men are quick studies and don’t require near death experiences to understand the way they should go.
Freshmen are particularly vulnerable since this is the time when most are out of the nest for the first time. Last year’s high school valedictorian can easily become this year’s college dropout when the folks are no longer around. Having an older brother that shows sincere interest can make a lot of difference in keeping these brothers on track. This is where older brothers can help. Getting to know actives and pledges on a personal level helps them to better focus on strengths and weaknesses.
Identifying and encouraging those with strong leadership potential is an important goal for a house corporation. Active chapters with strong leadership will be more successful and make the house corp’s job much easier. If older brothers encourage key brothers into leadership positions, many disciplinary, financial and academic problems can be circumvented.
House corp should also encourage leaders and potential leaders to take advantage of the resources offered by Sigma Chi like Balfour Leadership Training Workshop (BLTW) and Horizons. Since most or all of the expense is covered, house corp only needs to promote the concept and assist with scheduling.
Remember when you walked into your first chapter house as a rushee? It was probably both intimidating and exhilarating. The Sigma Chi experience is a life long journey. It can seem at times that young actives aren’t learning much along the way. They can seem forever young and dumb. But their reality is not unlike yours. They have hopes and dreams. They respond to a caring and helping hand, the kind that house corporation mentors can provide.