Gentlemen.

If you go to the University of South Dakota, are an alumni, or know someone who has ever attended school  here, you probably have heard something about the Strollers show.

It’s my first year as a graduate student at USD, and I have been hearing about Strollers since before my arrival, but I haven’t understood it until now.  It is just one of those things that you have to see to totally grasp the concept of it.  I am going to try my best to explain it for the sake of this post.

Strollers show in a nutshell: a performance based comedy show that is hosted by one of the oldest student organizations on campus, Strollers.  The Strollers do small comedy bits in between shows, but the majority of the show is made up of acts that are presented by the sorority and fraternity chapters on campus.  The 12 chapters are split into four teams consisting of two fraternity chapters and one sorority chapter each.  Each team’s cast chooses a theme for the performance and works for months to build a set, choreograph a performance, write scripts, and practice their act.  The competition is the biggest weekend of the year for some of our students and the energy on campus is so high.  It’s wild.


OK, so now that outsiders sort of understand what Strollers is, I can share a few more thoughts with you from an outsider perspective.

Everyone is drunk or in some way intoxicated-while this is the biggest night of the year, it is also a very high risk weekend for our students.  People are excited.  The casts are passionate and invested in this performance because they have spent months perfecting it.  Friends and family pack the auditorium.  Fraternity and sorority members come in waves to support their brothers and sisters.  Honestly, it’s a truly fascinating event.


Strollers is meant to be a fun and friendly competition.  It is built to create community on campus between multiple student organizations and the greater student body as a whole.  It is designed to build unity and to bring members of different Greek chapters together.

Ultimately it does all of those things, and as a chapter adviser, that is really really cool to see.  It is amazing to see so many of my students passionate and invested in something that they’ve worked so hard to create.  It is great to watch them work together on stage in front of hundreds of their peers.  Honestly, I was impressed.  I am impressed.  I am proud of each and every one the students who put themselves out there last night, and were brave enough to perform and to work to build community on our campus.  But, I am even more proud of something else that happened during the show.


While the show is supposed to create unity and bring people together, the excessive drinking and emotional states of our students isn’t the best environment for doing that-especially when we are all crammed into an auditorium.  Some students get out of hand and University Police is on site, because they know how big this night is for students and how wild it can be.

I watched students get escorted out of the auditorium.  I watched a girl fall down the stairs.  I watched multiple people trip or stumble through the dimly lit room.  And I watched a student throw punches at a few other students.  I was so proud to see that the two students that this guy threw punches at were very mature about the situation.  From where I was sitting, it didn’t look like they initiated any sort of dispute, or retaliation of any kind.  They told the other guys friends to get him away from them and they left the area where I was sitting.  They didn’t throw punches back, they didn’t scream or yell or get overly upset.  They handled it maturely.

This is the behavior that we should see at an event like this.  Not punches being thrown or vulgarities being screamed.  This is the reputation that fraternity men should have, not the reputation of party animals, hazers, rapists, and scum.  They are gentlemen.  Some of the finest gentlemen that I have met are fraternity men on this campus.

I was so proud of these students for being the bigger person in this situation.  They were smart, kind, and handled things correctly.  This is the kind of student that I like to work with, and this is the growth, maturity, and development that I love to see in my students.  I am sad that it came out of poor circumstances and at a public event like this, but I am proud of these young men, nonetheless.


I guess, I am just giving a shoutout to those two brave students for their actions.  They didn’t go unseen.  Continue being leaders on this campus and in this community.  Continue portraying masculinity and maturity in positive ways such as this.  Continue being true gentlemen.

-Joel

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