Davion M. Washington Jr. ~ Guest Writer
Within his two terms as the General President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. from 1912 to 1914, my Most Noble Big Brother, Charles H. Garvin, wrote and delivered the Esprit De Fraternité – The Spirit of Fraternity. In this call to action, Brother Garvin impressed upon the fraternity the continued notion that our great fraternity had serious purposes, emphasizing, “An Alpha Phi Alpha man’s attitude should not be ‘how much can I derive from the Fraternity’ but ‘how much can I do for the Fraternity?’”, and also what we can ultimately do for our communities.
Here at the University of Lynchburg, we are in a special predicament, as we currently have the only undergraduate fraternity and sorority chapters in the entire city. Given this predicament, we also have a special charge, a charge that is bigger than ourselves and even our own separate chapters. As members of Fraternity and Sorority Life at the University of Lynchburg, we have serious purposes, both in our campus community and our Lynchburg City community at large. With that, I offer this call to action… the Spirit of our FSL, if you will.
Following my attendance at the American Fraternal Leadership & Values (AFLV) Conference in Indianapolis, IN, my enlightenment of these purposes had been renewed, and my drive to emphasize and act on them had been fostered and restored. The conference offered many takeaways, but what really stood out to me was the internal division that we do so well to hide and that some can easily pay less attention to compared others. How can it be possible to achieve greater purposes within our community with the presence of an internal rift?
Well, the answer is that we do so, but we do so sparingly. In order to achieve greater purpose and results in our community, there are certain places in which we must align more than ever before. AFLV showed me that Fraternity and Sorority Life can be so many things, so many great things, in fact. These things, such as our philanthropy and service, our history, and unique individuality, are pillars that rest upon the foundation that is FSL.
However, I am also reminded of what Fraternity and Sorority Life is not, no matter how much some associated actions may show. FSL is not about the parties that are thrown, or getting black-out drunk. FSL is not about who is the “pretty” or “cool” organization, or the silly and idiotic things that new members or candidates are asked to do when no one is watching. FSL is not just for some letters…
As I reflect upon the purposes of FSL, I have come to realize that the plights of our organizations are much alike, seeking to aid communities that reside closely with us physically and emotionally. Our weaknesses and struggles are unfortunately alike and common as well. Whether it be nationally or right here on the campus of the University of Lynchburg, our organizations each struggle at times to recruit new members, we all face the presence of inactive members, we each have members that only seem to be around for recruitment events, and hazing is still unfortunately an epidemic that plagues our organizations nationally. We, as members of Fraternity and Sorority Life, must first dig deep down individually and realign ourselves with the deeper fulfilling purposes that our organizations pride themselves in, and then come together under one umbrella to achieve them. Otherwise, why do we exist?
To the brothers and sisters of the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council, I congratulate you on your new members, and to my National Pan-Hellenic Council brothers and sisters, I eagerly await new greeks on our yard. No matter the council, we must instill in our new members the greater purpose of Fraternity and Sorority Life. Whether our new brothers and sisters joined in search of friends, for the service aspect, to help improve this campus community, or quite frankly, just for some letters across their chest, be reminded of what FSL is not and show them the many wonderful things that it can be.
We have a charge to live up to, an internal rift to fix, and an endless amount of untapped potential at our disposal. We must show this campus community and the city of Lynchburg what we are capable of with our combined strength and be in the forefront of servanthood and kinship. As the only representation of Fraternity and Sorority Life in this city, we have no excuse to be behind or overlooked.
Most Noble Big Brother Garvin stated clearly that members receive lasting benefits from the organization in the way of self development by duty well done. We have work to do and deeper purposes to fulfill. Let us continue to show this community that FSL is not just for some letters…
Davion M. Washington Jr.
Vice President, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Sigma Pi Chapter