Heritage Night at Delaware brings actives and alumni together
Regional and local chapter traditions across Lambda Chi Alpha’s many zetas can be a historic and significant part of the chapter’s history and identity.
These unique customs, when done correctly and with good reason, have a way of strengthening the local brotherhood and bridging generational gaps and experiences.
The University of Delaware Lambda-Beta Zeta’s “Heritage Night” does just that.
Incorporated into their formal recruitment, the chapter reaches out to over 45 years of alumni members to join them in meeting current active members and most importantly, potential new members.
Beginning in 2010, the small and struggling chapter looked for ways to set themselves apart and achieve a new level of success. With less than 30 active members, they were a third of the size of the largest fraternities on campus. Those other organizations had a seemingly huge competitive advantage over Lambda-Beta Zeta in recruiting, such as, they could sell the larger brotherhood, larger budget for programming and the ability to mix with sororities who were typically 250 members.
Having only initiated five new members the following spring, something different and within the chapter’s means had to be done. Noticing this, former High Pi and current associate director of alumni involvement, George Taylor, contacted alumni member Lyman Chen, a former alumni chairman during his active days with the chapter.
“I knew we could drastically improve on this,” said Chen.
“Analyzing our strengths, I realized that most of the fraternities on campus had been kicked off from one time to another and brought back in different incarnations. Most of the fraternities were five years old at the most. Although we had very tough times and had even gotten down to single digits at one point. We had survived continuously for 45 years with about 800 alumni coming through our bond, many local and quite successful. This was our competitive advantage. Especially considering that in 2010, we were in the very heart of the economic recession and getting employment after graduation was especially a dire proposition.”
After reaching out to their network of alumni brothers, “Heritage Night” was born. Uniting the active and alumni resources yielded an associate class three times the size of the prior semester, and the tradition continuing on for the next ten semesters.
Current High Rho of Lambda-Beta Chris Mule spoke on the latest Heritage Night and the event’s initial impact on his joining.
“We had about 30 in attendance,” said Mule. “There has been a lot of excitement with our 50th anniversary coming up and the opportunity for actives and potential new members to meet alumni from the past 50 years made it a really fantastic event.”
“The reason why I joined about two and a half years ago was because of this event. You expect to talk to just a few actives, but you meet people who are working in the real world. It really brings it close to home and shows how deep and strong our brotherhood of Lambda Chi Alpha is,” he added. Mule also noted the event puts the aspect of brotherhood in perspective for potential new members, where other groups could only talk about brotherhood and a lifetime bond, the Lambda-Beta Zeta are able to showcase that in the flesh.
“One thing Lambda Chi has always been great at is having high ideals and putting things on paper for what we strive for. Heritage Night takes those words off the paper and gives an example. It shows an 18 year old man what we believe, right there in person,” added Chen.
“There’s guys 45 or 65 years old at the event, and they don’t have to be there. It takes an effort that they want to come, not because we paid them or something. Its very sincere and you can see how much passion is there.”
With only a month or two of planning and an emphasis on communication, Lambda-Beta’s alumni officers have been able to connect and utilize about 95 percent of their alumni base and incorporate them into the semesterly event.
“We’re still a brotherhood,” said Mule. “It’s the real deal. I don’t think it would be as strong and we wouldn’t have this generational bond without an event like this.”