Are Greek-Lettered Fraternities Outdated In The 21st Century?
by Elpidio R. Estioko
Fraternal organizations (Greek-lettered fraternities), during our college days from the 50s to the 80s, were the training grounds for college students as campus and community leaders. At that time, it was a prestige belonging to a fraternity and was a status symbol for the students to belong.
Most of the alumni, after graduation from college, became our national leaders in the executive, legislative, judicial and even in the local government. They were trained in college to be responsible leaders and team players due to their involvement in fraternal affairs and activities.
Their relevance to the campus and the community, however, has dwindled in the turn of the 20th to 21st century. Their important and positive role in the community slowly went down, disappeared and eventually lost in the wilderness. In fact, their existence went to oblivion.
There is, however, one fraternal group I know that thinks they can still be of use at present in helping others and giving back to the community. All they need to do is re-evaluate their existence and re-align their goals and objectives to the 21st century.
Yes, they just did it and came out with self-evaluation to be able to be relevant in present times.
That was what the Beta Rho Omega Fraternity exactly did. The alumni of the 15-chapter colleges and universities in the country (with the University of the Philippines-Diliman as the mother chapter), whose members are now living all over the world, met via Zoom and discussed how they will be relevant and useful in the 21st century.
Former President of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Hawaii (UPAA-Hawaii) Ireneo “Jun” Gappe is an active member of the fraternity. He is an alumnus from the mother chapter UP-Diliman. He is a resident of Oahu, Hawaii.
During the initial reorganizational meetings, founding president (and Most Noble Fellow) Oscar David, now a resident/citizen of Canada, spoke on how the fraternity can be relevant and how the members can be instrumental in making the organization connect with the present society.
Ed Gonzales, former president of the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) based in the Philippines, another founding member, spoke on ways in which the fraternity can bring back benefits to the community such as scholarship programs and other community-based activities.
The reorganization meetings resulted in the election of the members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) which eventually led to the registration of the group by Atty. Nicanor Jimeno, also a member based in the Philippines, as a non-profit organization (Beta Rho Omega Fraternity Alumni Association, Inc. registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with membership from alumni all over the globe) with Edgar “Egay” Sevilla, UP, as president. The board is composed of 10 Philippine-based members and five members abroad.
Meeting regularly every other week, the group finally decided last week to put up a scholarship program for poor but deserving students in college in three disciplines that are relevant to the present modern society – engineering, business, and mathematics.
This was actually a revival of the Mapua Chapter’s scholarship program, but now under the umbrella of BROFAA, Inc. to cover more scholars as a collective endeavor.
The Board of Directors chose the Technological University of the Philippines (TUP) as the partner university where, starting this coming 2023-2024 semester, the group will sponsor three scholars with courses in engineering, business, and mathematics with entry level of first semester, third year for two years.
After two years, when the first set of graduates complete college, there will be another set of three scholars… and the cycle will go on.
The scholarship program, according to Sevilla, “…is also an opportunity to build a closer and tighter relationship between the members and the leaders…thereby establishing clear and more direct channels of communication, among members and the officers.”
Bob Bantolo, a member based in Southern California, said“Meaningful relationships create meaningful results. Providing rapport and access between the leadership and the membership is a concerted and constructive effort. This collective worth will be a lasting legacy for the fraternity and the community we serve.”
Canada-based Oscar David said the BOT-approved option will be used as a benchmark to set up the fraternity goals. “It will relive and bring out those fraternal and convivial moments that typically strike a chord among us – sort of awakening those kindred spirits,” he said.
The Memorandum of Agreement will be signed by Dr. Aquino, TUP Student Affairs and Edgar “Egay” Sevilla, President, BROFAAI). Months before the start of the School Year 2023-2024.
At present, a committee headed by Oscar David was formed to market the scholarship program and find out how to raise funds, in addition to the traditional sources such as membership dues and contributions from affluent members, to maintain and sustain the project.
Are fraternities still relevant today? As I See It, they are!
ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.