Wabash College offers a liberal arts education with a small community feel. The college houses around 900 students; however, they boast the longest school fight song in the nation. The song takes around three minutes to sing through and tells the tale of the school spirit and tradition. The song has truly become and staple of the school and is taken quite seriously among the students. I took a college visit recently during their homecoming week, and I witnessed Chapel Sing.
I hate to be “that guy” who says, “You won’t understand because you weren’t there,” but you kind’ve had to be there. The emotion and passion is palpable in the air. Boys become men on the main yard during a September afternoon. The pledges, freshman who are hoping to become a full-member in a fraternity, emerge from their fraternities as if ready for battle. Some arrive to the competition sporting bald heads or faces coated in paint. The look in their eyes can only be described as animalistic and hungry. For the next hour, the pledges will line up with their fraternity brethren and sing the three minute long song for around an hour straight. While the pledges are losing their voice, they are belittled as men. Veteren members and guardians on the school’s tradition, the Sphinx Club, saunter around until a pledge catches their eye. They feed on these poor boys like a vulture attacks a dismembered corpse. They scream obscenities to try to make the pledges slip up on the song. Members who do forget the words are labeled as social outcasts because at the end of the hour their white shirts didn’t receive the spray-painted “W”, the seal of approval. The top five fraternities are listed off, and the winner receives the respect of their peers and the envy of every pledge. This year’s winner was Lambda Chi.
Lewis Cass’s alum Cade Cox was a pledge for the fraternity of Sigma Chi. The house also houses other Lewis Cass alumni: Noah Miller, Mason Young, Casey Crozier, and Nathan Young. While they share the same high school, Cade is the only one who didn’t win Chapel Sing. Sigma Chi is known as a “Chapel Sing powerhouse.” They had won the previous three years and this year would’ve made every member of the Sigma Chi house a winner. However, it was not meant to be. Some Sigma Chi members blamed a fixed judging system while others despise the freshmans for ruining the perfect sweep. Cade Cox was unavailable for comment because I was afraid to approach him and his defeated body language. However, I discussed the importance and meaning of Chapel Sing with Mason Young.
I was in awe of the atmosphere and energy of the event, so I asked Mason how participating in such an event compared to the other activities he participated in such as football. He responded, “Nothing can or will compare to Chapel Sing.” Mason has played in exciting football games including a sectional championship so that is a ringing endorsement. He also added that the pressure he experienced was “the most pressure he had ever experienced.” As a member of the Sigma Chi house, he has heard heckling from other fraternities about Chapel Sing. They are hated around campus because of their winning tradition. However, Mason loves the hate. “Being hated on campus for excellence is a great feeling.” On the contrary,greatness was not achieved this year. The pledges lost and most of the upper-classman are sick to their stomach. Although he has some remorse for the freshman, he can’t rid himself of the “sour feeling.”
I hope next year I can compete and win this event. Wabash is the only school I applied to and watching this event made me fall in love with the college even more.