New Associate Brothers
Lambda Chi Alpha
Sigma Rho Zeta
Dear Associate Brother:
Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother; then come and offer your gift.
-- Matthew 5: 23-24
Congratulations on your decision to become an associate brother of the Sigma Rho chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha.
Lambda Chi Alpha works because we attract men who do not want to haze, who do not want to do drugs, and who are genuinely interested in one another's close friendship.
I've been exceptionally fortunate in keeping a college man's focus on academics, real ethics, and real friendship. Over the past decade, Lambda Chi Alpha has been perfect for me. The academic life has always been what I've enjoyed most. At the fraternity, there is a focus on right-and-wrong which is rarely found in public or private life after the college years. And the fraternity is the closest you'll ever come to real participatory democracy.
Sometimes the associate period is difficult. These notes are intended to help you find a comfortable place in a great organization.
It's my wish that you have as good an experience as I have.
Grades, dues, attendance, and so forth were probably explained to you while you were a prospective. All the promises you will make during our ritual are outlined on the paperwork before the formal association ceremony. Especially, you'll be expected to try to be a good friend to the brothers, and to let them be your friends.
Our principal rituals are secret. This secrecy is mostly just about building trust and learning about each other. You'll be expected to keep both the secrets of the fraternity, and the personal secrets that your brothers may choose to share or that you will learn during your time here.
As a college student, your first obligation is to get a solid education. Nothing should interfere with this. Historically, the strongest brothers have been the ones who have also done well in classes.
The officers and your Big Brother will explain the minimum grade requirement for initiation. At UMKC, if you are not already achieving well above this level, there is something badly wrong, and perhaps you are not ready for college. Nobody wants to know your grade point average (good or bad), but we want to see you do well.
Your brothers will honor your decision to study hard, even if it means foregoing "fun" activities.
Often college men do not know how to approach learning tasks most effectively. If you're having trouble with a course, I can probably help. You can always reach me at 816-654-7552.
One ill-informed complaint about fraternities is that members "pay for friendship". This is bunk. You are paying for your activities, which you'll share with your brothers.
You'll need to meet your financial obligations in a timely manner. Your brothers expect this. If you need to work out a payment plan, speak with the treasurer.
Don't miss business meetings, and try to be on time. If you cannot make one, be sure to let the appropriate officer know as far ahead of time as possible.
Business meetings are largely about allocating limited resources and assigning responsibilities. As in the adult world, business meetings can be difficult. Be serious, and things are easier for everybody. If you are presenting an idea, consider distributing a handout listing both pro's and con's.
As an associate brother, you participate just like the initiated brothers.
The Greek System
Most campus Greek organizations are secret. This lets dishonest people make right-wing and left-wing political capital by misrepresenting who we are.
Lambda Chi Alpha was among the first national fraternities to drop racial and sectarian barriers to membership. A glance at our composites since we were founded gives the lie to stupid accusations about "racism". We have always disapproved of hazing, and were the first national fraternity to abolish it formally.
Complaints about "classism" are equally untrue. In ten years, I have never heard anyone talk about a prospective brother's personal or family finances. If "classism" means that we believe in hard work and a fair return for your extra efforts, so much the better. (Marxism is not one of our twelve ideals.)
Symbols, lodges, and bonding rituals are universal among human cultures. Right-wing objections come from the same milieu that has "moral problems" with dancing, movies, Christmas trees, team mascots, and birthday cake.
When you're around non-Greeks, don't talk bad about any Greeks.
All Greek-letter organizations have interesting history and lore. It's fun and useful to know about this, but (at least for us) this is not the focus of the associate period. You will not have to pass any oral or written exam.
People are different by temperament, brain wiring, and upbringing. There are homes which are dominated by hateful talk and ridicule, of family members and/or of strangers. There are homes in which there is no privacy and no mutual respect or forbearance. There are homes in which children are not loved as such, but only for their achievements (or sometimes even their non-achievements).
Men coming from such backgrounds can still learn skills that will serve them better in life, and Lambda Chi Alpha gives everybody a great opportunity.
We all build interpersonal skills in college. Sometimes this process, too, is painful. Often the person who needs us the most brings the weakest social skills.
Act like a friend. Don't speak ill of another brother without a really good reason. Generally, watch how you talk about others, at the fraternity and outside.
If you think you may have done wrong, or that you and another brother may both be at fault, approach the other man and discuss the problem honestly. If you know you've done wrong, intentionally or unintentionally, you need to be completely honest.
Generally, if somebody thinks of something worth doing, he's free to do it. Others will usually join in. Most of what gets done happens because of individual initiative. Even if you have no big ideas, think about dropping by the house simply to say "Hello".
Different men have different needs for privacy, and each of us has times when he does not want to talk. Depending on your own past experiences, you may not be alert to this, and have trouble reading the non-verbal cues. This can cause much hidden resentment on both sides. If things are going as they should, your fraternity brothers will always be happy to have you present. When you realize that a brother needs to be alone, just give him a smile. He still values and appreciates you, even though he's focused elsewhere for now.
Every Man a Man
One of the most unmasculine things you can do is to be sexually or romantically aggressive with an unwilling woman, or a woman who is especially vulnerable because of any particular situation. We will not tolerate this kind of behavior.
You would not speak ill of one of your brothers without a very good reason. Likewise, there is very seldom a reason to speak badly of a woman.
Growing up, most of us have a series of relationships which fail. If you're a decent guy who wants a lifelong relationship, ultimately you will find the right woman. But the process brings most of us the greatest pleasure and the greatest pain we discover in life. Be especially considerate of the feelings of brothers who've had relationships end, and of the women who've been special. Again, watch what you say.
As a brother, you can expect to hug and be hugged. We will not mistreat you, physically or emotionally.
Lambda Chi Alpha welcomes brothers from all the great world-faiths. Christian principles are kindness, forgiveness, courage, treating others (both within the fraternity and beyond) as we would want to be treated, and helping each other up when we stumble.
You'll participate in role-playing exercises that build trust, mutual appreciation, and mutual knowledge. You'll examine your own life, including how your past actions have affected others, and how you want to live the rest of your life. There are no public sessions in which you will be criticized or have your secrets exposed by others.
I've found that the Christian focus, and the entire experience, compares favorably with organized churches "for grown-ups".
The open creed explains the meaning of the cross and crescent. In the era of the crusades, the combined symbol was selected by several knightly orders as their emblem. Despite the times, many Christians openly admired the Muslim people that they came to know. It is easy to believe that the cross-and-crescent emblem was (and is) actually a symbol of interfaith friendship.
Lambda Chi Alpha presents no credal test, and you will not be asked to reverence the symbol of another religion as such, or pretend to believe something you do not. You can see (and might enjoy looking at) the symbols of the fraternity on the officers' badges. Formal meetings begin with a non-sectarian prayer. If you do not believe in God, or do not believe in prayer, you can interpret all this symbolically or metaphorically.
We do not tolerate racial or sectarian bullshit. This is not a contemporary left-wing classroom, and you do not have to pretend to like "cultures" based on non-achievement, hostility, lawlessness, or grievance-collecting. But if you cannot be an equally good brother for men of different races or religions, you must reconsider your involvement with Lambda Chi Alpha.
"Christian Principles" are explained in the creed. Jesus of Nazareth is exemplar, and there are readings from the Old and New Testaments. Jack Mason put our ritual together from a combination of sources including "The Golden Bough" and masonic lore. Again, you will never be asked to subscribe to a religious belief, or to give any special reverence to any sectarian symbol, or to state a preference for one of the world-faiths over another.
Constantly look out for the physical safety of your brothers. There are many instances. Especially, familiarize yourself now with fire-safety at the house.
We are all prisoners of our bodies and minds. Be especially alert to evidence of treatable mental or emotional problems in your brothers. Loss of interest in school and in others, unexplained changes in weight or habits, personality changes, and talk about death or hopelessness are some of the warning signs. Don't ignore or dismiss these. Although I am not a clinician, I may be able to find the right help.
Again, when a brother's relationship with a woman fails, don't make light of the situation. It's brotherly to remind him that there'll be somebody else.
The legal drinking age is 21 in both Missouri and Kansas. As your faculty advisor, I urge you to comply with the law. Even if you are of age, please consider doing without alcohol, so that you can get more enjoyment from many of the other things life has to offer.
Smoking marijuana is unbrotherly. Right or wrong, it is illegal. Using it involves you with goofballs and losers, and makes you passive, silly, and self-absorbed. The fraternity will not tolerate your using cocaine, heroin, or amphetamines, anywhere or at any time.
There is no smoking during business meetings or rituals. I am on record in favor of permitting chewing tobacco (as a help to men who cannot yet rid themselves of the nicotine habit), but presently this is also banned. If you want to stop using tobacco, see me.
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a gentile or a tax-collector.
-- Matthew 18: 15-17
Acceptance as an associate brother is not a guarantee of successful completion of the associate period.
The active brothers will vote three times on whether to initiate you. In this outline, I've dealt with all the new-brother problems that have come up since I was initiated. If there is a problem, you can expect straight talk about it before the chapter votes on whether to disassociate you.
May we have pure hearts, that we may approach the ideal of perfect brotherly love.
In Zeta Alpha Chi,
Ed Friedlander MD
Sigma Rho 229
Sigma Rho Zeta
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