Leadership Must Carry Us Forward

by Dr. Craig Aarhus, Southeast District Governor, Associate Director of Bands, Mississippi State University |

It has been my distinct pleasure to serve as a Kappa Kappa Psi Governor for the Southeast District this year.  Serving in this capacity has given me a new perspective on the fraternity and its workings, and it has allowed me to see some of the great strengths that the organization has.  There are also many people I have met over the past 12 months that have been involved with Kappa Kappa Psi for a long time, and all of them have been helpful as I have tried to learn what it takes to be an effective governor. Some weak areas have also been observed, but nothing that cannot be improved with some effort and strong student leadership. Though I can only speak specifically to things I have observed in the Southeast District, I suspect some ideas might be applicable in other districts, so I hope this column will challenge all of us around the country in new ways. Here are five reflections and challenges to share with you going forward:

  1. Kappa Kappa Psi brothers are among the best students on our college and university campuses.  I have enjoyed getting to know the brothers of the SED and share in their joys and concerns.  I have been impressed with many who have worked hard to make their chapters stronger and have accepted challenges that would be difficult for most student leaders to overcome.  The fraternal bond appears to be quite strong and is supported by the sponsors and directors that compliment their chapters to me regularly.
  2. Let’s always try to remember who we are as a fraternity.  Our first stated purpose is “to promote the existence and welfare of the college and university bands.” Are we as a fraternity actually doing this?  Traditionally, this is realized in the form of service to our bands, but I was very surprised at our convention to observe that the words “service” and “band” were spoken very rarely.  If we are not doing everything we can as an organization to promote and serve our bands, then our priorities are out of order.  We exist solely because of our band programs, and doing whatever we can to promote their well-being should be a top concern.
  3. Keep in mind what brought us to the fraternity.  Every brother should be able to tell someone quickly the answer to the question, “Why did you join Kappa Kappa Psi?”  There may be several “first answers,” but one of them should be some variation of “Because I love music.”  Without music and band, we have no fraternity.  Therefore, we as brothers should work hard to improve our musicianship as much as possible to foster a better experience for ourselves and for our bands.  At minimum, this should include participation in a band ensemble every semester whenever possible.  We should all work to be musical examples for our fellow band members.
  4. Our chapters should be snapshots of our band programs.  As you look at your chapter’s membership, does it reflect the membership of your band?  Are all band students considered for membership?  If your chapter lacks diversity, then make an effort to be inclusive of all who are willing to follow the purposes of the fraternity.  As a society, we tend to focus on our differences, when in reality, we have much more in common with each other and many more things that bind us closely together.  Embrace this philosophy as you seek to recruit your membership classes next year.
  5. Think of one way that YOU could help Kappa Kappa Psi become a better organization next year.   Many people in large group like a fraternity are content to sit and let others dictate all of the philosophies and activities of their chapters.  While we must respect the leadership we have elected, we should not merely allow our voices to go unheard.  If you have a good idea to promote your chapter and your band, make sure your officers know about it.  The same is true on the district and national levels.  Our district officers and governors are here to help you.  Please call on us if we can assist.

As the title of this article suggests, our leadership must carry us forward.  Whatever we are as a fraternity, or whatever we hope to become, we must trust our best and brightest to get us there.  Keep in mind that not all leaders have titles.  In fact, many do not.  Therefore, I challenge all brothers to renew their commitments to strive for the highest next year!

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