Hello valued readers,
In keeping with all accepted formalities, I suppose I’ll introduce myself…and this blog with a keystone entry that will (hopefully) keep you coming back for more. My name is Adam Miller and I’m a 2010 graduate of Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. As of June, I’ve started my professional life as a Recruitment Consultant for Phi Kappa Psi, a moderately-sized, national men’s social fraternity; thus placing my occupation (technically) in the non-profit/higher education sectors, a far cry from my undergraduate discipline in audio/media production. Though my passions for music and all things media are unparalleled and I can see myself in music-city producing records for a living, I am certain that at this point in my life, this is the job for me.
For those of you who don’t know my story, my involvement in Greek life was much different than many. I came to college with a general disdain for all things fraternal. I saw groups of “frat boys” and “sorority girls” arrogantly parading around campus and thought the system immediately to be flawed and lacking in substance…after all, why would I want to be that “bro”? Well, weeks passed and the friends that I had been close with were busy forming their own campus niches, whether they were commuter students, athletes etc… In other words, I was bored and aside from my girlfriend at the time and a few low-commitment groups that I had joined, I was alone on campus.
Spring semester came and several of my classmates, as well as my girlfriend, chose to rush. On a whim, I attended the Greek information night completely intending to leave unimpressed. After having met representatives from nearly every organization, I approached a table belonging to a local fraternity with campus reputation I had been warned about for being “the arrogant guys”. To my surprise, I felt more comfortable in 30 seconds with this group than I did with any other organization. A senior member reached his hand across the table to shake mine, gathered information about me and was able to relate without any hesitation. I knew walking away that night that I wanted to join. For any potential recruiters out there, remember this one piece of information:
People don’t join organizations…People join people.
As the recruitment process continued, my best friend at the time made a promise that we would both choose the same organization and finish our pledgeship with one another. The purpose of this promise was the result of a campus-wide reputation for the particular fraternity’s hazing. As most people will admit, many students preparing to join a Greek organization assume that some hazing will occur, simply because of media portrayal and rumors. Though this is NOT by ANY means a universal truth... some hazing does occur and the organization that we had chosen was one of those groups.
A week into our pledgeship, my friend depledged and removed himself from the organization. In fact, over half of my pledge class left the organization that night. These were men of character, men who achieved academically and men who others on campus regarded highly. Because of the culture of the organization however, this intolerance for humiliation deemed them of lesser caliber.
Needless to say, I remained and was initiated in the Spring of 2007. Quickly thereafter, I too saw all of the changes commonly associated with new Greek members: higher self esteem/social poise, academic improvement, greater campus involvement etc… and this was great for a year or two following my initiation. Joining the fraternity opened my eyes to many people that I would never have known otherwise, it encouraged my involvement in residence life, orientation and our campus admissions office and it gave me that little “chip on my shoulder” that we all seem to have, wearing letters on campus.
During my third year, I left campus on my “professional semester” which consisted of additional courses in audio production at a trade school and an internship, both of which were incredibly influential in my development. When I returned the following semester, something just felt different when I was around my chapter. Disgruntled upperclassmen were removing themselves to move on to the next stage of their lives and members were still hazing new members as a right of passage. What once seemed like the pride of my involvement became threat of lawsuit, a lack of support and a culture of tension.
I finished that year with my election as chapter president and the officers under me had some lofty aspirations. “we need to stop hazing” said one, “we need to do better in classes” said another, “we need to teach our younger members how to run the group when we’re gone” and the list goes on… Though these were all great things (and true) I…the lone senior…did not have the resources to tackle this. Enlisting the help of a few members, we began researching national, NIC fraternities with which to affiliate, knowing that our affiliation would bring resources, recruitment appeal and network capabilities after graduation.
Within two months, we’d chosen to expand with Phi Kappa Psi. Meetings with fraternity directors, Greek and Student Life directors, university officials and area alumni dominated my schedule. Later that semester, our colony was recognized and six months later, we became a chapter after having a more than 70% increase in member recruitment/retention. These accomplishments are a direct reflection of our goals to: end hazing, achieve academically, involve younger members and set a new standard. I’m proud to say that because of the vision of a few and the work of many, my home chapter now has access to resources and networks that were unimaginable a year ago.
That’s why I’m here. I’ve seen the capability of organizational involvement to impact a young man for the better. Conversely, I’ve seen the bad. My charge during my contract is to deliver the motto of Phi Kappa Psi to all of our established chapters and soon to be established colonies… “the great joy of serving others”. Though this motto references community service, it is our duty as an organization to serve the members that we wish to recruit and retain.
As I write the conclusion of this entry, I’m nestled in a condo on the southeast side of Houston, Texas, establishing a new Phi Psi colony at the University of Houston. People ask me all the time why I’m not working in my field right now, but when I wake up and see the same enthusiasm in the eyes of the undergraduates that I felt less than a year ago, I remember that this is where I need to be right now.
Thank you for reading and as I move from city to city, you’ll know!