man makes the house

This is an article from a brother from Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity at the University of Illinois. A donation to his chapter was made on his behalf for this submission. Go here to learn more about this program.


This was a phrase that my big brother told me after being inducted as a candidate in my fraternity. At the time I took it at face value, something witty and inspiring to encourage a new guy to get involved. Now that I am my fraternity’s new member educator I find myself evaluating this phrase and applying it to what I see in the behavior of pledges and actives alike.

Most members believe in order to get hard-working, active members they need to be pressured, yelled at, and beaten down as a pledge. But the reality is the same caring, hard-working pledges are going to be caring, hard-working actives. Conversely, the lazy pledges will be the lazy actives. The concept that you can mold people into becoming better men is a flawed one as the process of changing a person’s nature can only be done by the individual who wants to change, and it certainly cannot be done in the six week period that one pledges a fraternity.

So rather than shouting or giving big speeches about caring about the fraternity and fulfilling their obligations, focus on being stern with them and encourage them to take their candidacy seriously. Those who do not want to will stand out and possibly leave, this is a good thing because odds are they will care just as little when it comes time for them to participate as an active. If you find yourself with a very small group of guys in your pledge class in the end, maybe you need to reevaluate your recruitment strategy, as you are not recruiting the right people for your house.

But in the meantime, focus on being a good role model in and out of the fraternity. Pay your dues on time, go to philanthropies and social events, and make sure school work is a priority in your life. My big brother cared greatly for his fraternity, and seeing that made me care all the more.

Do these things and you should see a more motivated and dedicated house start to emerge. Remember, the man makes the house, not the other way around.






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