by Taylor Deer
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a brother tell me that their ambitions are to be the “Top House” on campus. Followed up by some half baked statement trying to convince me that they are “probably top 3 right now” but its those damn [Insert Rival Chapter Here] who occupy the “Top House” spot on campus. Usually said with a hefty dose of resentment and disrespect towards that organization.
Whenever I hear that come from a chapter, it reinforces a creeping fear in my soul that proves to me that we have lost focus as Fraternity men. Saying you that your goal is to be the “Top House” is the same as saying that you want to be the most popular dudes on campus. To be clear, the reason I am using quotations around those words is because those words are subjective and extremely close to not being real. “Top House” exists in your brain, in your thoughts, in your desperate psyche. It is a subjective measurement of achievement only given through the jaded and biased opinions of your peers who are equally as confused about the subject.
What bothers me is that the “Top House” on a campus has too much to do with their social standing. Who they do mixers with and how ambitious and creative their parties are. GPA, community service, or campus involvement play some sort of a factor in it, but somehow the conversation always comes back to “We’re trying to do more socials with [Insert Popular Sorority Here].”
I think Fraternities were created to be prestigious, not to constantly pursue popularity. It seems to me that our chapter’s image is just as important (if not more) as the service we provide to our communities.
Popularity is temporary, its a fleeting feeling that we all try to convince ourselves we have achieved constantly. Its the conversation that we have with ourselves that sounds like “Katie from [Insert Popular Sorority Here] says ALL her sisters like us, so that means were popular”. To me its a definition of success that we can only get if its given to us by others. Which almost never happens. And so we get caught in constantly scrambling to be the “Hot Topic” on campus by throwing crazier parties than the other houses.
Its like living life on a treadmill. You’re working hard, you’re sweating, but you are literally going nowhere.
To me prestige is what happens when popularity grows up. Prestige is built over time. It’s a deep respect that is slowly and consistently earned. Its a perception of quality that stays with you and isn’t slowed down by the thousands of flimsy opinions that people try and throw at you.
Popularity is the runner that only runs when its sunny and above 71 degrees, dresses up in the hot athletic trends and takes 10 selfies along his 1 mile run #running #watchmerunning #admiremeplease #recognizeme. Prestige is the runner that wakes up early everyday, runs when no one else is on the path, whether its a downpour or windy, and pushes themselves towards a goal because they are driven by a compelling purpose.
If you are concerning yourself with your chapters image. Are you chasing popularity to be liked? Or are you demanding prestige to be respected?
I know this isn’t directly about recruitment — that’s what we normally write about. But fraternities that are proud of themselves tend to recruit better. They exude confidence, they have a story that they’re proud of, and they work hard to maintain that pride. It’s hard to be proud of yourself if you’re always on the treadmill… always doing the 1 mile selfie run. Become prestigious, and you’ll attract others who value prestige over popularity.