Brotherhood – What It Means To Me

Goughneour_headshotBy Rick Goughneour, Pennsylvania Pi #0093

What do we think of when we see or hear the word brotherhood? The word “brotherhood” is used from the time we start recruitment and continues to be used everyday as a way to describe why we joined or what we’re looking for in the Fraternity. Few people ever find their true meaning to the word “brotherhood” but for some reason, Greeks everywhere use it because they think it is what brings us all together.

For me the word “brotherhood” was always something that I searched for within my own chapter, but I could never find a definition or phrase to describe it.  It took me losing one of my mentors and brothers on February 28, 2012 to realize what true “brotherhood” really meant to me.

Losing this person has been one of the toughest things I’ve had to deal with in my short 22 years of life, and it changed me for the better. Before, I thought losing a relative or friend was hard but this just seemed to hit a little harder than any of those. Although we love our friends and family, losing a fraternity brother who I respected caused me to feel a whole new series of emotions that I hadn’t felt before that day.

Michael R. Haines was someone we could count on at PA Pi. As a Founding Father and CAB member he was involved from the time he was initiated until the day he passed. Mike would have given anything he had if we as a chapter told him we needed it, and that man lived our values to the fullest in every extent of his life. Whether it was waiting tables at Eat N Park, selling phones at Verizon, collecting money in an armored car, or being there for his brothers, Mike Haines was passionate and put his whole heart and soul into every part of his life. We all had respect for him and although he was tough on every memmber of the chapter, we knew there was a reason behind it. He was sometimes stern but would also be the first person to shake your hand and tell you that you did a good job at something.

My first real connection with Mike came during the fall semester of the 2011-2012 school year, shortly after recruitment was over and we were beginning the Phikeia process with our new guys. We were talking outside of a building on camups just catching up before any of the brothers had arrived. It started off as a normal conversation about the week and what had been going with the chapter and just general things that were going on in our lives. I remember him being extremely happy about the new job that he was hoping to get and how good of a change it would be for him. But as we all knew with him, things went from happy to serious in the blink of an eye when it came time for business.

He started telling me how impressed he was with the chapter and how things had been going over the past year and that he couldn’t wait to see where we could be in five years if we kept up our hard work. As I look back on that now, I truly wish that he would be here to see how much of an impact he had on us as a chapter up to that point, and I wish I had told him that one of the main reasons we were where we were was because of him. We kept talking and after awhile he shook my hand, looked me in the eye and told me that he was proud to see how I had changed since my initiation. He also mentioned that in his eyes my pledge class was the “second founders” and without us, the chapter would not be where it is.  From that moment, until the minute I heard the news that Mike had passed, I had worked to make sure he was satisfied with the chapter, and at the time I had not realized it, but I had earned Mike’s respect. Every member of Pennsylvania Pi can probably say that Mike had a positive effect his life or on the way we thought about things.

My true meaning of “brotherhood” happened shortly after his passing when we were all sitting in a room together with local alumni, our Province President Jordan Palitto, General Council member Chris Brussalis and brothers that knew Mike since the day he was intiated. We were laughing and telling stories of how Mike had touched our lives or made us laugh. That “feeling” we all had sitting in that room, as our former CAB Chairman Mike Hortert described it, was “brotherhood” in every sense of the word. The feeling we get when we think of the others in the chapter. The feeling we get when we all come together to support each other and share memories. The feeling we get when we think of Mike Haines. I can honestly say that I have never been more proud to call myself a brother of Phi Delta Theta than I was that night. Seeing the amount of support and care that we all had for each other in a time of need is what this is truly about.

Today, I can finally say that I’ve found my definition of the word. It’s not something that can be defined with words or descriptions, but more of a feeling when you’re surrounded by those you call your brothers, and you see that they are willing to give as much of themselves to you as you are willing to give them. It’s that feeling we all get when we see a brother doing something that represents our values. It’s that feeling we get when we’re at a Phi Delt conference and get chills doing ritual with members of different chapters. It’s that feeling we get when we think of the person that brought us into Phi Delta Theta. It’s that feeling we get when we’re proud of our accomplishments as an organization or as an individual chapter. Sit and think about that “feeling” and a time that it has hit you during your time as a member of this great organization.

What does brotherhood mean to you?

Brotherhood: What I’ve Learned Through Loss


By Ryan Schell, Expansion Consultant

There is a well-known fraternity cliché that I am sure the majority of people reading this have heard before. It is said that fraternity brothers will be the first to arrive at your wedding and the last to leave your funeral. While I have yet to attend a fraternity brother’s wedding, I plan on making an early appearance. Unfortunately, I cannot say so much for the latter.

Trent Taylor was the kind of guy that you couldn’t help but gravitate towards. Trent was our star intramural athlete, our head of recruitment, the chapter member who always had a sorority date night to attend, he was my pledge brother, and most importantly he was the first person to meet you with a smile as you entered the chapter house courtyard. At one point I remember thinking of Trent as the Florida Gamma “welcome mat.” He was always there, always with a greeting, and always prepared to dust you off after a long day. Trent made everyone feel comfortable. Trent made everyone feel at home.

trentOn April 7th 2012, a fellow Phi, Trent Taylor was involved in an accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Over the next few days, the staff at Orlando’s Regional Medical Center struggled to find room for the influx of family, friends, and Phis that traveled to be with Trent and his family. We watched, waited, hoped, and prayed for Trent to improve. We cried, we joked, and we laughed at the many stories that Trent had been the center of.

On the evening of April 12th, hundreds of friends from the Florida State community gathered on campus to memorialize Trent. Some told stories, some said prayers, and others came simply to support our chapter. For many, this was their chance to say goodbye. Ian Trent Taylor passed away on April 12th as we gathered at Florida State’s Westcott Fountain to remember him.

In the year since Trent passed, I have tried to make some sense of his death and all of the experiences that surrounded such a tremendous loss. I am not sure that I will ever truly understand, but I have certainly learned a few things about Fraternity and Brotherhood.

Brotherhood is Support

As a leader in my chapter, I frequently felt that I was carrying my chapter through every situation no matter how small or large. I felt as if I was constantly supporting one of our one hundred forty members. I had a very different realization during Trent’s memorial service in Orlando. I sat in the second row behind Trent’s closest friend and roommates. I sat there to support them, as the same brothers were also some of my closest friends. What I noticed in that moment was the two hundred or more Phis who sat in the rows behind me, supporting me as I did my best to support those that sat in the row ahead. I believe this is an essence of Brotherhood that leaders frequently fail to realize. We do not support our brothers and carry their burdens because we are stronger or better suited to do so. We support them because while we struggle, there are always brothers behind us carrying a little bit of the weight.

Brotherhood is more than Friendship

As Brothers of Phi Delta Theta, we all recognize Friendship as one of our cardinal principles. But I believe that Brotherhood is more than the word friendship could ever explain. Friends share experiences and memories, as Brothers we share a bond that few outsiders will ever witness. We feel with one another through every success and every failure. We laugh and cry as much for each other as we do for ourselves. When Trent passed, I shed as many tears for my Brothers’ loss as I did for my own. We are connected by far more than Friendship. We are truly linked heart to heart.

Brotherhood is real

No one would argue that members of Phi Delta Theta are Brothers. We have defined our relationship as such. What I am talking about exists outside of our definition of our association. Common knowledge would suggest that as my chapter mourned the loss of Trent, we were one less member and therefore our Brotherhood had shrunk. In reality, it had soared to levels that I could have never imagined. Trent’s passing had ignited a flame in all of us. We may have been one less member, but our Brotherhood was stronger than ever. As we returned to Tallahassee for classes, exams, and eventually graduation, I could not help but feel stronger and closer to my Brothers than ever before.

As Brothers we are far more than the sum of our parts. We are more than chapter meetings, parties, and even the ritual that guides us. Brotherhood exists outside of the individuals that embody it. Trent will forever be a part of that Brotherhood.

As I travel the country growing our great Fraternity as an Expansion Consultant for Phi Delta Theta, I carry Trent’s memory and our story. Through our Brotherhood, he touches every campus, colony, and individual that I work with. Trent, and what he meant to my chapter, will always be a part of how I define Brotherhood and Fraternity.Brotherhood is the good and the bad, the smiles and the tears, the weddings and the funerals. But most of all it is real and it is lasting. And it has changed my life for the better. Though we are separated by distance, Mary Todd Taylor, Tanner Taylor, and the Florida Gamma Chapter will always be in my thoughts.

The Florida Gamma Chapter will be hosting the Inaugural Trent Taylor Memorial “Power Strut” 5k this weekend benefiting the Brain Injury Association of Florida.

If you enjoyed or related to this post in any way, please consider making a contribution in Trent’s memory at

Phi Delta Theta: A Brotherhood For Life

Jarrod_PrugarBy Jarrod Prugar, Robert Morris University

Over the last few years, I have grown and developed into the man I am today. This is in large part due to my experiences and the people with Phi Delta Theta.

I pledged myself to Phi Delta Theta in the Fall of 2009 with nine guys who I did not know until the process started. These guys are some of my closest and most genuine friends today. Coming to Robert Morris in 2009, I knew one person, so it was imperative that I meet new people and get involved on campus. Playing baseball proved to be the answer that I was looking for in both respects. I was introduced to the Phi Delts via people on the baseball team telling me about an event that they were putting on that weekend and saying that I should come visit. The rest is history. I went to the event and have not been able to leave yet.

As a first generation college student, I had no idea what college life would be about or what I would do when I was at school. I was away from home and the comfort of my parents for the first time in my life, and I had absolute no clue what would come next.

My parents did the best they could for me, and I would not be who I am if it were not for them. When I first told them that I would be looking into joining a fraternity, they had no idea what it or the people they would soon meet was about. After explaining to them that it was not a FRAT, rather a fraternity, and it was more than what they saw in movies, they knew it was something that could be a great thing for me to experience while in college.

We were initiated in 2009 on my birthday, December 5th. Being initiated on my birthday is one of the coolest experiences that I have ever had, and it keeps me from not forgetting such an important date.

Over the last few years my parents have grown to embrace me being a part of such an amazing organization. They actively come to our events and formals, sharing embarrassing stories of me growing up and enjoying the people that I call my friends.

This past year was a roller coaster of a year. I experienced happiness, sadness, numbness and every feeling on the spectrum. One of my role models and a close friend of mine in the chapter, Mike Haines, was tragically shot and killed in an armored truck heist. Experiencing that would eventually prepare me for what was to come. We, as brothers, banded together to remain strong and kept on going as we honored a guy whom we all knew and loved.

Over the summer, after returning from Convention, my parents and I learned that my dad had the C word – Cancer. In no way, shape, or form is cancer a good thing, especially when it is a close family member, let alone your dad. Seeing my dad go through the pain and anguish that he did while battling cancer and the procedures that were done will always stick with me. As the only child, I put it on my shoulders to be the strong one in the family and be there for both of my parents as we went along on this new journey.

Being the family’s rock is no small task for a 21 year old college student with no clue about what his future holds. If I’ve learned anything as a Phi Delt, it’s the little things that add up and somebody’s gotta do it. Also, in my corner were 120 people who had my back and were there for me whenever I needed something. I was actually with an alumnus working on promoting a tribute concert for Mike Haines when I got the word my dad had stage 4 cancer.

In September, my father lost his battle with cancer at the young age of 51. Obviously, dealing with a parent’s death is no easy thing, especially at 21 years old. Having to tell family members, friends, and other people my father died is arguably the hardest thing I have ever done. As the days went by and arrangements were being made, there was not a day that went by where I did not get a phone call or text from a brother asking if he could help with anything or if I needed anything. For my dad’s remembrance ceremony, five of them made the two-hour drive from Pittsburgh to be there for me as we remembered my dad.

People say that with joining a fraternity that you are only buying your friends. You get a lot from joining a fraternity and yes, money is involved. But there is no price you can put on the bond and the closeness that you develop with your brothers. When I was initiated, all I heard was how this is “a brotherhood for life.” It took me three years to realize what the saying “a brotherhood for life” actually meant. It means more than what you get when you pay your dues; it means having somebody you trust and care about being there for you whenever you need it no matter what; It means that there will be somebody going along for the ride with you all along the way.

And most of all, it means having your closest friends and brothers being there when you need them the most, for the rest of your life.

Proud to be a Phi!

Jarrod Prugar is a senior sports management major and education minor at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA. Over the last three and a half years, he has served as Recruitment Chairman and Phikeia Educator. In 2010,  Jarrod was elected as the delegate for Phi Delta Theta’s General Convention in Orlando, and he is in the process of completing his Iron Phi requirements after running the 5K at this year’s Convention. Jarrod is currently the head squash coach and head middle school baseball coach at Sewickley Academy as well as team captain and president of the Robert Morris Club Baseball team.

What Brings Us This Great Distance?

dave_kovacovich_-_head_shotBy David J Kovacovich
January 6, 2013

St. Louis, Missouri
5:00am Central Time

The sun has not yet smiled on the Mid-Western Plains but the airport is filled with men wearing Phi Delta Theta letters over their heart. The Presidents Leadership Conference (PLC) has reached its conclusion, and we are on our way back to our institutions to carry out our leadership mission. Back at my institution, a boy sleeps soundly with his favorite teddy bear under his arm, a little girl dreams of Cinderella, and my wife keeps one eye on her cell phone awaiting my call. It is 3am in California. I do not report to PLC on behalf of a Phi Delt Chapter; I do not work in higher education; I am not a General Headquarters staff member; Nor am I a General Council member. I am simply a man who is proud to be a Phi. At every conference, the undergrads are asked to thank the event faculty for taking time away from work and their families. If the undergrads only knew how grateful we are to have the opportunity to experience the development of their character. Those who do not wear the letters of Phi Delta Theta often ask me why I would travel across the country for a “frat” conference. The answer is simple….

I finished my undergraduate brotherhood experience with Phi Delta Theta in the late 1990s. The experience that I gained from being a chapter president allowed me entrance into the professional field of my choice, a collection of valued lessons to guide my decision making and a large group of friends for life. I left college and began a 15-year commitment to personal and professional development. In my post-graduate life, I had earned exemplary professional accolades, got married, purchased a home, and had welcomed the arrival of 2 beautiful children into this world. Then, I received an email from the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity challenging me to become the greatest version of myself. That was not the message on the cover of our rush manual in the fall of 1992 (designed to resemble the cover of a playboy magazine). The accompanying video explained how we made the hard decision to declare ourselves an alcohol-free housed brotherhood and the new-found mission of our membership. We are now what we had once pretended to be: a character building lifetime commitment. In an effort to honor my commitment, I volunteered to be a faculty member at the Kleberg Emerging Leaders Institute this past summer. This was not your father’s Phi Delta Theta.

These days, I am pleasantly surprised by the character of our undergraduate members.  Our organization is comprised of men who excel academically, men who are committed to their university and the surrounding community and men who have seized the opportunity to be part of something bigger than they alone strive to be. This is not the entitled generation stereotyped in HR case studies. Our membership is committed to deriving maximum benefit from their college experience.

Phi Delta Theta is a fraternity for life. As such, we are committed to recruiting the men of highest moral character on every campus across the US and into Canada. As alumni, it is incumbent upon us to support our Fraternity’s direction. We should be humbly aware enough to admit that ‘what is’ is as important as ‘what was’ and continue with the mission to recruit members for life. If nothing else, it should be our duty to help young people avoid making the mistakes we may have through our mentorship.

As a faculty member, I have had the opportunity to help our emerging leaders and incoming presidents understand the role that our cardinal principles will play in their development as students, professionals, husbands and fathers. We have explored the transferable social skills that will differentiate our membership from other students as they enter the professional world. The process of teaching serves as a continual reminder of our principles and is never an exhaustive experience. I learn as much as I share with the undergrad members of our Fraternity. I have never been more confident in the future of Phi Delta Theta!

At Phi Delta Theta, we understand that friendships built in the principles of The Bond have lifelong dependency. We understand that learning and educating does not end at graduation. We understand that decision making is the key to success and the right decisions are rooted in our cardinal principles. We understand that hazing serves no purpose except to devalue those we have deemed worthy of wearing our letters over their heart. We understand that the feeling you get from helping others is far more enjoyable than the feeling you get from over-consuming alcohol.

So when my neighbor (who spent just 2 years in active fraternity experience) asks me how the “frat” event was…? I will simply reply, “You wouldn’t understand”!

David Kovacovich (Arizona State ‘97) served as Chapter President and IFC VP of Fraternal Affairs during his undergraduate journey at Arizona State University. Brother Kovacovich has been a faculty member for the Kleberg Emerging Leaders Institute and Presidents Leadership Conference. He currently serves on the Phi Delta Theta Educational Committee. 

Fraternity Men Who Choose Not To Drink – A Misconception

By Michael Boulter

Full disclosure: I have never had an alcoholic beverage. That being said, you’re probably wondering why someone who has never had a drink is writing about alcohol awareness. Just as there are misconceptions associated with alcohol, there are misconceptions surrounding those who choose not to drink – misconceptions that, when cleared up, can help us to build a stronger, healthier brotherhood.

When others learn that I’ve never had a drink, often times they rush to figure out why I “condemn” alcohol and those who choose to drink.  It can be frustrating to be written off at times for my choice to not drink. What they find soon after, however, is that it’s just that, a personal choice. I look forward to going out with my friends and having a good time. Being sober doesn’t keep me from having a good night out, and by no means do I expect others to make the same choice to abstain from alcohol.

I’ve seen fraternity chapters, however, where a schism has appeared. This level of mutual understanding either hasn’t developed or has gone by the wayside. It becomes a battle of those who enjoy a drink versus those who choose not to – a battle of brother versus brother. One group begins ostracizing those who “are irresponsible”, while the other group starts judging those who “hate fun”. As brothers, neither group is in the right.

This rough relationship is all too often the result of a lack of accountability and a consequence of knee-jerk reactions. As we’ve frequently heard, alcohol awareness in fraternities is a matter of taking ownership of your actions and the actions of your brothers. What does it say about our brotherhood if, instead of choosing to come together and find a middle ground, we choose to draw party lines?

There’s nothing more powerful than having a real one-on-one conversation and letting a brother know that you care about him. How often do instances of a brother going too far with his drinking end with a genuine conversation with him the next day? Instead, how often is that brother pushed aside, talked about, or taken to the judicial board? My hope is that we, as brothers who choose not to drink, can have these conversations and show concern without ever condemning our brothers or pushing them to the side.

And, on the other end, how well are these conversations, when they do happen, received? This is where I’d like the misconception about those who don’t drink to be cleared up. It’s not that those who choose to not drink see themselves differently. There isn’t a holier-than-thou attitude that comes with this choice. Instead of seeing these conversations with your brothers who don’t drink as someone’s attempt to levy judgment on you, do you see it as an authentic display of care and compassion?

I know that we can reach this level of mutual respect. It’s tough to sit down with a brother and let him know that you’re concerned when his drinking caused him to go a little too far. I can only imagine how hard it is to be on the other end, choosing to listen and take what he’s saying to heart. It’s this level of understanding that allows us to foster a true sense of brotherhood.

Brother Boulter joined the GHQ Staff as an Expansion Consultant in 2012 after graduating from Kettering University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. While at Kettering, Michael served his chapter, Michigan Delta, in a number of roles. Guided by his work as President, his chapter won the Kettering President’s Cup in 2011. While serving as Recruitment Chairman, he completely revamped his chapter’s recruitment program, which led to their largest pledge class in 20 years. Michael was a delegate to both ELI and PLC and returned to both conferences the following year as a Peer Mentor. Outside of Phi Delta Theta, he was President of the Running Club and Recruitment Chairman of IFC, a position in which he was recognized as the Officer of the Year. Being an Iron Phi, Michael is an avid runner with a 5 year “running streak”.

Want to Fix a Hazing Problem in Your Chapter? Start by Fixing Your Brotherhood Problem

By Gentry McCreary, Ph.D. and Joshua Schutts

Hello members, friends, and fans of Phi Delta Theta. In honor of National Hazing Prevention Week, my colleague, Josh, and I want to talk about brotherhood, but first, you need some background.  About this time last year, I reached the halfway point of my doctoral dissertation.  I was studying the impact of moral judgment and moral disengagement on hazing attitudes, and I was putting the finishing touches on the third chapter and preparing for my proposal defense.  My study, in a nutshell, was investigating the environmental variables that support a pro-hazing culture.  As I sat and thought about my study, I came to ask myself the question “What matters?”  Several fraternities have shaken things up in the last few years and significantly changed the environment in which hazing occurs.  Phi Delta Theta has the “Don’t Tarnish the Badge” campaign.  Sig Ep has the “Balanced Man Program. “Beta Theta Pi has the “Men of Principle Initiative.”  Alpha Gamma Rho and Zeta Beta Tau got rid of pledging altogether.  As I sat and pondered these changes, I asked myself “If we wanted to know if any of these changes have had any impact, what would I even measure?  It’s hard to measure hazing, so what do we measure?  What would we expect the impact of these changes to be?”  As I sat and thought, rolling around different possibilities in my head, I kept coming back to the same idea – brotherhood.

What is brotherhood?  How do students define it?  Are there different kinds of brotherhood?  How do you measure it?  I pondered these questions and more for several days, and I decided that the best way to get an answer to my question was to ask students.  So, I sent out an email to my fraternity member listserv and asked for a few volunteers to come meet with me to talk about brotherhood.  On the day of the meeting, a dozen or so guys showed up, and I asked a simple question: “What is brotherhood?”  I sat and listened, scribbling notes furiously trying to keep up with the conversation, as the young men bounced the question back and forth.  Several themes emerged from that conversation, but when I coded my notes, the students discussed four separate and distinct definitions of brotherhood.  They were:

  1. My brothers support me and “have my back” because we’ve been through a lot together.  They would do anything for me, and I would do anything for them.
  2. My brothers and I do almost everything together – they are the people I prefer to spend most of my time with and we always have a blast, whatever we’re doing.
  3. My brothers and I are drawn together by our similar beliefs, values and backgrounds.  They are my best friends and will be the groomsmen in my wedding.
  4. My brothers help make me a better person by holding me to high standards based on our shared values.

At this point, my head was spinning.  Four completely different themes, sometimes used in combination with one another, sometimes not, had emerged from that initial conversation.  My next step was to try to make sense of all this new information, so I called up the one person who I consider to have the ultimate combination of fraternity and nerdy quantitative research skills – Josh Schutts.  Josh, I’ll let you jump in here and  help us make sense of all this.

Admittedly, I came into the fold in many conversations with Gentry about his work with hazing and moral judgment.  He mentioned brotherhood and I was immediately hooked.  I presume that for many of you, brotherhood is the reason you joined your chapter, and is likely the reason you are still affiliated.  My background is in business, so I tend to view our fraternity chapters much like “mini businesses.”  In saying that: fraternities don’t have a profit-motive, we have a brotherhood motive.  If Apple or Microsoft is for-profit, then Phi Delta Theta is for-Brotherhood.

Conceptually, brotherhood is the currency of fraternity.  It is sold to potential members, traded between brothers and alumni, and deposited within our thoughts and memories for all time.  As an alumnus of my organization, I recall those memories from time to time – the things we did as friends and brothers.  The trouble we got in, the relationships we made, the times we laughed, and the times where we were there for each other.  Perhaps a brother could be thought of as “more than a friend, but no less than someone you love.”  I heard a wise past national president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon say that once (Jim Pope, Southern Mississippi).

Theoretically, the research is frankly scant in relation to brotherhood.  It’s kind of funny that something that means so much to so many is largely unstudied, undocumented, and unanalyzed.  I mentioned earlier about brotherhood as a currency. If you buy that, then when we trade or sell it, we are completing a transaction – let’s call it a social transaction, or maybe even a social exchange.  Near as I can tell, the best theoretical framework that exists comes from Blau & Scott (1962) who coined “social exchange theory” and talked about mutual benefit associations.  I think of fraternities as mutual-benefit associations, so I think there is some wisdom to be found there.  Further, Clawson (1989) talks about masculine solidarity and touched on loyalty through race, social class, and gender.

With this theoretical framework in mind, we sat out to devise a way to measure brotherhood.  A list of questions was developed that corresponded with each of the four definitions of brotherhood, with a five-point “agree/disagree” scale.  We constructed some initial testing on the instrument, determined that it was good, and set to work.  We had to put a name to each of the four types, based on the definitions from the focus group and the questions in the instrument, and here is what we came up with (numbers corresponding to the definitions that Gentry described above):

  1. Brotherhood Based on Gang Mentality (BROGM)
  2. Brotherhood Based on Shared Social Experiences (BROSSE)
  3. Brotherhood Based on Common Interests (BROCI)
  4. Brotherhood Based on Accountability to Shared Values (BROASV)

We measured brotherhood with our instrument, and we also asked students about their alcohol use, attitudes towards hazing, attitudes about the purpose of the new member process, questions about the importance of social status in their chapter, and a scale that measured their moral development.

What we found amazed us.

Student’s scores on BROGM had strong and significant correlations with pro-hazing attitude.  Those correlations became weaker as they moved up the scale, and a high score on BROASV had a negative correlation with hazing attitude.  The way students defined brotherhood was predictive of the way they perceived hazing and the amount of hazing they stated they would tolerate in their chapter.

We also measured students’ perceptions of the purpose of the new member process (with statements like ‘the pledging process is an opportunity to weed out weak new members’ and ‘it is important that pledges demonstrate their loyalty to the fraternity before they are initiated’) and had similar findings.  Students that measured highest on BROGM were much more likely to have an antiquated view of the purposes of the new member process, and again, the relationships became weaker as they moved up the scale.  BROASV was negatively correlated with the scale measuring the perception of the purposes of the new member process.

So, conceptually we have many ideas about what brotherhood is.  Most of what we know so far is anecdotal, qualitative and contextual. We tell stories to others, and somehow in our mind, we understand what brotherhood means. . . what it means to us anyways.  But does it stop there?  What if brotherhood means different things to different people?  How can we merge what it might mean to you with someone else’s concept?  Wouldn’t it be easier to ‘sell’ that to an interested prospective member? We think you can.  And we think that if we could quantitatively measure it, or at least most of it, then we would have a common language to talk to our brothers about.

When we begin to understand what brotherhood is, we can then take the leap to see how it manifests and changes.  We first begin by understanding its nature.  What it is comprised of, and equally, what is it not comprised of.  We think about where it comes from, and we think about the best way we measure it.  Next, we begin to see it as the ‘cause’ and search for the symptoms or effects it has on people, chapters, institutions, and communities.  We measure it over time, and we see if differences exist between race, or age, or number of years as a member of a fraternity.  We see these symptoms as antecedents, and we ask questions about what aspects of brotherhood correlate to that are both positive and negative.  We look at hope, and commitment, and unethical behavior, and citizenship behavior, and engagement, and moral judgment, organizational learning, and a host of other things that are related to things that occur in our chapters every day.

What good is all of this?  Well, for starters, we could diagnose issues in chapters. We could get to the cause, and quit treating the symptoms. We could leave our campuses better than we found them.  We could make a difference in someone’s life.  We could be more relevant tomorrow than we were yesterday.  In sum:  We could become the greatest version of ourselves, and help our Chapters achieve a new level of greatness as well.

Gentry McCreary is the Associate Dean of Students at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, FL.  He served four years as the Director of Greek Affairs at the University of Alabama, and two years as Director of Greek Life at Middle Tennessee State University.  He is a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity from the University of Tennessee.  He completed a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama.  His research interests include moral development and the social-psychological causes of hazing.  Gentry is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys backpacking, canoeing, golf, fishing and upland bird hunting with his German Shorthaired Pointer, Ellie.

Joshua Schutts is the Assistant Dean of Students at The University of Southern Mississippi and a 2000 initiate of the Delta Mu chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.  He has a B.S.B.A. in Marketing and a M.Ed in Student Affairs Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi.  He is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Research, Evaluation, Statistics, and Assessment at the University of Southern Mississippi.  He enjoys playing golf and fantasy football.  Josh and his dog Roosevelt live in Hattiesburg, MS.

The Bond Lives And Why I Am So Sure

The following speech was delivered by Don Melchiorre to the men of Ohio Theta after recovering from a coma. 

By Don Melchiorre, Cincinnati ’59

The Bond, that document we brothers all heard, some of us many years ago, some of us more recently, some soon to do so.  We heard, signed, and pledged to uphold.  We received our Bond Numbers of Ohio Theta and some of you at other Phi Delt chapters.  My Bond Number is 924 at Ohio Theta.

Well brothers, the following is my most recent assurance from my Phi brothers that….”The Bond lives and why I am so sure.”

Many of our brothers already know of my two unfortunate “whatevers” that ended in hospital stays.  One with operation on a broken shoulder and while I was under anesthesia somebody stole my hair!

The second stay was a little more complicated and here is where my lifelong story of my association with Ohio Theta and Phi Delta Theta continues:

During this second “whatever,” I blacked out in my car and my Ohio Theta brothers, chapter, and alumni had a hand one way or another in my being found and gotten to the hospital.  I was but into a medically induced coma and at one point, I was considered “not to live out the night.” I was told that I had about 167 visitors, mostly Phis, Phikeias, many wives of brothers, and parents of Phis.  Present Ohio Theta chapter brothers visited everyday when in coma along with various alumni and friends.  Some from GHQ and Conrad Thiede many time.

One visit really needs mentioned here.  I was told by nurses in ICU that one day while in coma, restraints, hoses, wires, etc., brothers of the Ohio Theta Chapter came to visit and were told “that may be the last time you see Don alive.”

These brothers put their hands on me and sang Eternal Praise. This may sound “hokey” but in my comatose mind, I felt that brotherly touch and I thought angels were singing Phi Delt songs.

There were so many special visits and it would take too long to mention all, but I will say that I truly believe that owe my being here to three things: my belief in Jesus Christ as my Savior, the terrific nurses at Good Samaritan Hospital, and my Brothers in The Bond, especially my dear to me brothers of Ohio Theta.  “They took up the sword of Phi Delta Theta and these days they come to my aid.” I will be forever grateful that you pulled me through – you saved my life.

Once again, you have me “dancing as fast as I can”, once again (with all due respect to Brother Lou Gehrig) you, my brothers, made me feel “like the luckiest man on earth.”

You, my brothers, have proven once again that “The Bond of Phi Delta Theta truly lives” and show know that I, with the help of my brothers, lived through it.