by Shira Tober
The first time you wear your sorority or fraternity letters is such a life-changing day. It signifies the beginning of a lifetime commitment, it signifies brotherhood and sisterhood, and it signifies a continuously evolving love for an organization for which you are pledging yourself to. Our letters hold such strong meaning that when we wear them we are publicly showing the importance of our commitment.
But, where is the line drawn with the sanctity of wearing letters? For me, I hate when I see people drinking in them — mine or anyone’s. In fact, I hate any stupidity in letters. Does this mean there needs to be strict rules on who can and cannot wear them?
Truthfully, I’m torn. I like keeping my letters special but I also consider myself a socially excellent person. How can I justify keeping hundreds of thousands of dollars of excess Greek Week, Homecoming, Mom’s Weekend, Dad’s Weekend, Spirit Week, Bid Day, Football Bloc, Mixers, Formals, and Any day that ends in ‘y’ t-shirts when there are people in this world who could benefit from a lime green frat tank. Not because it looks cool, but because they don’t own more than one shirt.
I once had a house mother ask me if she could send excess t-shirts to Haiti after the earthquake and I had to tell her no. It was heartbreaking and part of me wanted to break the rules and tell her yes. I was conflicted. Am I a bad sister for wanting to donate letters? Or am I a bad person for hesitating to help those in need?
If we really thought about the meaning behind the letters on our shirts rather than the shirts themselves would we hesitate or would we think about our organization’s values? Our values guide us to help those less fortunate; our values challenge us to be Socially Excellent.
There’s a line in the new book, “Social Excellence: We Dare You,” that epitomizes the challenge of being generous. It says that Socially Excellent people “have a healthy disregard for decorum in favor of creating a blissful memory for others.” If we choose to live our fraternal values and lead a Socially Excellent lifestyle, we have the strength to be brave enough to disregard decorum in favor of helping others in need.
So I dare you. I dare you to disregard decorum. I dare you to think about the meaning of the letters on your t-shirts. I dare you to be curious, generous, authentic, and vulnerable. I dare you to change the world.