By: Expansion Coordinator Alex Koehler, Mount Union ’07

How many times have you heard the cliché “borrowing a cup of sugar from the neighbor”? A ton, right?

So, how many times have you actually done it? Whether it is sugar or something completely different (like a rake), I’m willing to guess that most of us rarely ask.

What do we do instead?

I spend about half of any calendar year on the road. There is beauty in the journey, but even the toughest road warriors miss the comforts of home. For me, one of those comforts is cooking. Most hotels and restaurants don’t encourage you to cook your own food (don’t ask how I know that), so when I am in Oxford, I cook just about every meal.

The other day I opened our refrigerator and I found:

  • 4 open packs of the same type of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 open jars and one squeezable bottle of strawberry jelly
  • 5 open bottles of Newman’s Own Vinegar and Oil salad dressing (at least we are supporting a good cause!)

Forget about asking our neighbors. We don’t even ask our roommates.

People like to think we live in a self-reliant world. Dear millennial friends, I hate to say it but this is largely due to our generation. This is Generation Me. The iGeneration—relationships are built through social media, not social excellence. Relationships are maintained through FaceTime, not face time. You see more ear buds on campus sidewalks than you see salutations.

What happened to brotherhood knowing no boundaries? Familial ties once went beyond immediate relationships, even beyond fraternal organizations. Once, fraternal organizations’ purpose was to reach beyond those limits—to do whatever they could—to help all of mankind.

Our purpose has not changed. Our attitudes have. The reality is that we need people just as much as ever, maybe more. Success does not exist in solidarity. We need to connect and engage to succeed.

Whether it is asking your roommates to borrow some salad dressing or asking questions to build a better fraternity, it is now up to us to carve out the culture we want to see. How do we do it?

Just ask.

  1. Recruitment
    1. Just ask your professors, advisor, the wise janitor, friends in sororities, the dean of students or (if you’re bold enough) the campus president who the best men on campus are. Then go recruit those men.
    2. Just ask those men to come to brotherhood events, community service events, intramural games or whatever it is that makes your chapter remarkable. Recruitment events are passé. Recruit with what makes your chapter an essential component of campus. Don’t recruit by putting up flyers and chalking the sidewalk. Be dynamic. Offer a deeper and more significant VALUE. Just ask how you can.
    3. Just ask those men their honest opinion. What would it take for them to accept an invitation to fraternal membership?
  2. Community Service and Philanthropy
    1. Just ask where there are needs on your campus or in your community. Be a leader. Fill them.
  3. In General
    1. Something happening that you want to be a part of? Phi Kappa Tau Foundation scholarships? Leadership Academy attendance? National Convention? Changing lives at a SeriousFun camp? Just ask.
    2. Something happening that you want to see changed? Just ask why it is happening. Just ask how you can be a part of the change.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers joined a fraternity recently. When asked why he joined, he responded, “Someone asked.”

Curiosity is an essential trait of leadership. What is the worst that will happen? The answer will be no? You won’t know if you don’t ask. I bet you’ll be surprised how often the answer is yes.