For those that know me, know that I like to push buttons. One of my most requested keynotes for fraternity/sorority communities, When is Enough, Enough? discusses the ways in which we, as members of fraternal organizations, perceive ourselves versus how the general public perceive us. I joke that looking in the mirror is the hardest thing to do, but often the most revealing.
Having worked with Greek communities for over a decade, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the Seven Deadly Sins and hold up the mirror to see how they relate to our communities.
Pride (or Vanity) is an excessive belief in one’s own abilities, which can interfere with the recognition of other’s accomplishments or sense of community.
For me, this is the organization that always wins awards; they look amazing on paper but harbor some ‘ish that everyone knows about but no one does anything about. When I first pledged a fraternity (that I later depledged) at one of the first meetings we had as new members the chapter pulled out all of its awards and intramural trophies and said “this is who we are – we are excellence embodied.” Wow, how totally humble of you guys… The chapter had high social capital, was well liked by the administration, but also hazed and sent people to the hospital for alcohol poisoning nearly every
weekend. For the chapters and members that complain that no one cares about all the good you do and money you raise and service hours you do (mandate), all of that means nothing if you’re hazing your members and sending people to the hospital. Do better, act better, be better.
Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than which one requires.
Think about our social events or date functions. When I was a campus-based advisor, I remember chapters going on weekend-long formal trips to Vegas or Cabo or lawd knows where else. It’s excessive. Not to mention the sheer amount of alcohol consumed at these events. Or that some chapters would budget specifically for the damages they would cause the hotel. When your social budget as a chapter is more than every other committee budget, it’s easy to know where your priorities are.
Lust is a craving for the pleasures of the body.
Now more than ever it’s important for us to know about consent. Now I won’t bore y’all with a textbook definition of consent, I think you’re all smart people and know the gist of what consent actually is. However, it’s hard when there’s a social event and there’s alcohol and it seems as though the lines get fuzzy, or at least our memories sometimes do. I think it’s important for us also to create safer environments for our guests. Or maybe (and go with me here) we could host social events that aren’t only at night on the weekends in a dimly lit, sticky floored basement that smells worse than the clogged-up toilet on the second floor of the house that no one goes into. With music so loud you can’t hear a conversation with lyrics that do nothing but degrade the opposite gender. Perhaps we could lust for an experience outside of just social.
That’s just the first three. I’ll be working with CAMPUSPEAK to release the next four (Envy, Anger, Greed and Sloth) in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I challenge us, as a fraternal movement, to really take a look at our actions and ask ourselves if we are doing the best we can? Are we living up to our potential? Are we just on auto-pilot and not really trying anything new? I’d love to connect and come up with innovative programs or experiences for our students, or simply just brainstorm new ways for us to ask better questions with our work.