So what exactly does it mean to be an FSL advisor? What does it mean to be involved?
I can tell you a few things that are really necessary to being an FSL advisor…some that I think we struggle with at times. We have been asked to work with these orgs, either on the university side or on the organizational side. We have been called as role models to offer support and help. Rarely if ever are we given the power to make changes, more often expected to be a voice of wisdom that students can rely on.
That is a really interesting idea with today’s students. We spend so long wrestling with our own FSL experiences (even those who are not Greek have had experiences or preconceptions of what it means to be Greek). I know it has been a challenge I have faced. I face these issues because I am an idealist. I have seen all the great things that FSL can do from the service to support to leadership development. I have had it change my life and I love what it is to me. I continue to stand proudly beside my org even in the face of negative feelings for Greeks because I am an idealist. I know that what makes my group different is that we stand for something. We are a group of friends, but more. We are a fun social club but more. We do service but more. We are FSL because we have a mission, purpose, and values that define our org. Because of that I really have issues working as a Greek advisor and watching things happen.
It bothers me to think that FSL can be boiled down to a status or social club or even a gang, but the fact is that quite often that is how students within it act. Think about hazing, where social dominance and group think reign. Think about parties where what happens is rarely associated with excellence. Consider what has been done in these organizations to support movies like Animal House. For every story about the great things Greek, there are several about why we are no longer relevant.
As an advisor, my heart breaks to hear my groups are irrelevant. As a Greek I get choked up considering the idea. But then I look at the facts and very often I am left wondering and wandering. It isn’t fair for me to hold students to my ideal standard of FSL; this is their story and time, not mine. But is it wrong to expect them to act with dignity and class, to accept responsibility when they screw up and help them fix it, to hold them accountable as brothers and friends? Since when has being Greek meant less than the values? Since when has ritual become just words we read without meaning?
As an advisor, I am taking upon myself a new challenge and one I offer to all who call themselves Greek: To hold myself accountable to the oath and principles of my brotherhood, to support my brothers in their efforts to live up to those ideals, and to love them when they fall. That does not mean that I will support their fall or let them be anything less than the best men I know them to be. It does not mean I can stand by and watch ritual, brotherhood, service, academics, and all the other great meaning that has come from Greek life fall aside so guys can socialize. I respect myself and my letters far too much for that. I respect every man’s creed and every orgs oath too much to let a few fools too busy being boys contradict the words of men.
As an advisor, I have a responsibility to call bull when I see it and to challenge and support.
To my brothers and my FSL family, I ask you do the same.