Fourth year student and former President of Sigma Phi Society Nicholas Fischer was recently featured in Heroic Fraternities, an upcoming book by Dr. Anthony Bradley. Dr. Bradley is a professor of Religious Studies at The King's College in New York City and a member of the Pi Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at Clemson University. His new book focuses on how fraternities can give their members the tools to successfully navigate the new challenges faced by men in the 21st century. The FSL Office sat down with Nick to chat about his relationship with Dr. Bradley and his inclusion in the book.
Tell me about your involvement with the book Heroic Fraternities by Dr. Anthony Bradley.
"I saw him tweet in 2021 that he was embarking on a project to educate fraternities and create a movement that he calls “heroic fraternities” among college men in America. I was really intrigued, so I reached out to him over email, and we talked about my chapter and his vision for the future of fraternities. I was elected to be president of Sigma Phi Society and one of my initiatives was to create a guest speaker series. I thought Dr. Bradley would be the perfect first speaker. I arranged for him to visit Grounds in November of 2021 and he gave a lecture in Hotel C West Range. The brothers from Sigma Phi and the Iota Beta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at UVA were all in attendance, as well as several members of the community. Dr. Bradley's speech focused on what kind of men should be in fraternities and what fraternities should do for their members. He said that fraternity brothers should hold each other accountable in all facets of life and that fraternities are uniquely positioned to produce character development in their members. His speech had a big impact on my chapter, and we kept in touch with him. He ended up interviewing me for his podcast and then published that interview in his book. He opens the first few chapters with quotes from the interview and he even graciously included the Sigma Phi brothers at UVA and myself in the dedication. His conversations with us in November of 2021 served as a frame of reference for him. I helped him understand what fraternities do that works and what they can do in the future."
What speaks to you the most from his message?
"What speaks to me the most from his message is that the brotherly love among fraternity members is a powerful force for motivating each other to improve. He believes, and I agree, that fraternities are uniquely positioned to produce that kind of positive character development in college students because these men are bonded to each other through the particular identity of the same fraternal organization. His message about this definitely caused us to refocus ourselves on making that mission of character development a reality."
How did his message influence your time as President of Sigma Phi?
“It had a really significant impact on the way that I thought about new member education. I thought hard about one particular quote of his which was ‘everything a fraternity does with its new members should be philosophically defensible’ — in other words, it should be easy to tie new member activities back to the central mission and values of the organization. So his message caused me to make it a priority to communicate to our new members that being Sigma Phi is about aiming high in life, conducting yourself honorably, and being your brother’s keeper, during college and after. Because of how he inspired us, we in turn tried to establish for our new members that membership in our fraternity meant pursuing the “heroic” ideal and taking the responsibility of mutual self-improvement seriously.”
What is your favorite memory of Greek Life from UVA?
"One morning, around 4AM, four brothers and I randomly decided to go on a hike. We drove out to a mountain in the cold dark morning. We were tired, but we got a second wave of energy and started climbing. To stay awake and keep the spirits up, we started singing some of the songs that every Sigma Phi knows, which made us laugh and have fun on the incline. We got up to the top, made a fire, and enjoyed the view. It was just one of those moments where I was really grateful to have the brothers that I have and to have found Sigma Phi as a UVA student."
What are your plans after graduation?
"To work for a bit, and probably head off to law school eventually. I'm interested in constitutional law and hope to use my career to have a positive impact on the country."
If you are interested in hearing Nick's story and others, Heroic Fraternities by Dr. Anthony Bradley is out in bookstores now and you can listen to Nick's interview on The Anthony Bradley Podcast. Nick and Dr. Bradley will be hosting a book launch event on April 3rd at 5PM at the Sigma Phi Society House (163 Rugby Road).