Beyond Brotherhood: Being in an NPHC Fraternity
Gregory Rudd, ’18
Completing community service on early Saturday mornings; communicating with administration and faculty to program events; throwing parties and having to work the door the entire night; working with alumni to coordinate reunions; following the wishes of the Office of Greek Life even when they are less than agreeable. Being in a fraternity is all of these things, but my experiences in a National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) fraternity have been these things and more, all of which may be summarized by a lifelong commitment to brotherhood.
For many of us who do not have family members who are in an NPHC organization, our ideas about life as an NPHC fraternity member consist of boot-donning, chanting, stepping Black men whose lives are consumed by their organization. The reality of the NPHC fraternity life is dedication to a storied legacy that all members strive to uphold, pride in the African and African-American roots of our rituals and practices, and a promise that no man shall be barred from our bond on the basis of color, creed, or sexual orientation. When NPHC fraternity members adhere to these ideals, we each personally benefit from having brothers who care deeply about us, while our respective communities benefit from engaged and conscious leaders.
My time as a member of an NPHC fraternity has been formative, helping me to better understand my role as a leader at Vanderbilt as well as giving me a community of support. My fraternity brothers remind me what achievement looks like, and their presence in my life pushes me to want to be better in all of my endeavors. Although at any given time our chapter size may be a tenth of the average Interfraternity Council organization, I have found that the small size has allowed me to foster a deep brotherhood with men who will be a part of my life forever. When our chapter hosts alumni members on Homecoming weekends, they serve both as reminders of the sacrifices that were made for my own fraternal experience to be possible and as role models for me to continue to sacrifice for posterity. As a member of an NPHC organization, there has been a network of like-minded, driven individuals who have always been willing to aid me in anyway I needed, which has made my transition into NPHC leadership a stress free experience.
In my time on the NPHC Executive Board here at Vanderbilt, I’ve come to value the role of each and every NPHC organization on campus and the importance that each holds in addressing problems of mutual concern. Although there is certainly work involved in ensuring that our council is maintaining a consistent level of excellence, I can’t understate how relieving and fun being a part of an NPHC organization is. My brothers and I have taken road trips together, made sure to meet and know each other’s families, and have enhanced each other’s college experiences through the work of the fraternity. And, of course, the extraordinariness of Vanderbilt pervades our fraternity, and I am proud to say that I have brothers who have done and continue to do amazing things in their time at this institution.
There are so many unique experiences to be had as a Commodore, but I can truthfully say that only in my NPHC fraternity have I been able to both find myself and feel comfortable being exactly who I am simultaneously. My brothers have grown to love me for who I am – a serious, introverted, loving person – while also pushing me to be more, and for that I am so proud and thankful to be a member of the NPHC community.