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Posted: 10-07-2007

If you've reached this page, you're probably looking for the meaning of the acronym Y.I.T.B.O.S., or YITBOS, and you hope the wonders of the internet and Google that you can find the answer.

Since you are searching for the meaning of YITBOS, that means one of two things:
  1. You are pledging to a Delta Sigma Phi chapter.
  2. You are the significant other or friend of a pledge or member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity.

    If you want to understand the meaning of YITBOS, I will tell you a true story about an experience I had where the meaning of the word was revealed, publicly:
    While I was an active and in college, I started dating a girl before I joined the fraternity who was as curious as I was--if not more--about the meaning of YITBOS while I was pledging. Once I was initiated and the meaning was revealed she tried very hard, for a very long time, to get me to reveal its meaning. We were still together about two years later and accompanied me to a Homecoming, our Fall formal. We paired up with a sorority and had a large alumni turnout from both groups.

    During the awards, ceremonies, and speeches following diner, an inebriated alumni---who was there celebrating his 10-year since graduating with some of the other members of his pledge class---gave a speech. During this speech, he said, "And brothers... we all know the meaning of the word YITBOS...." and, after a brief pause, he went on to say it. Over the microphone. The brothers, their guests, our alumni and their wives, the other sorority, their dates, and their alumni and their husbands---everybody---was watching and listening.

    There was a marked and noticeable silence from nearly everyone... The brothers sat stunned, mouths agape, as we asked ourselves if he really just said---in front of everybody---what we thought he did. The numerous soft gasps from the guests who understood the significance of what they just heard were audible over the otherwise eerily quiet banquet hall. My girlfriend was those who gasped, and then turned to me with her hand covering her mouth and waited for my reaction.

    I was a little hurt. The meaning all us who came before us--and who would follow--worked to learn was revealed, gratis. I expected the fallout to be bad, with everyone on campus finding out the meaning. But it didn't. It appeared to be quickly forgotten.

    The response from my girlfriend surprised me: "That's it?! That was lame." While we keep the meaning secret from the uninitiated---well, with a few exceptions---when the meaning was revealed to those who did not have to journey in order to find it, the significance was lost. It was so insignificant that a month afterwards she already had forgotten what it stood for.  This is a girl who had been begging me to tell her the meaning for over two years... and when she finally learned the answer, she was disappointed to find there was nothing special about it. (At least nothing special to her).

    What you should know is that finding this answer to the question you seek is meaningless: it is the journey which leads you to the answer which gives it meaning... and the journey is entering the fraternal bonds of brotherhood in Delta Sigma Phi.

    YITBOS is as acronym... a word formed from the initial letters of the several words in the name. Words by themselves are nothing... we are the ones who give words meaning. Love is meaningless---only an abstract concept---to someone who has never known it, yet it is infinitely more meaningful---perhaps the most meaningful thing in the universe---to somebody who has experienced it. Just how an inside joke isn't funny when explained to somebody who wasn't there, YITBOS isn't meaningful to those who have not completed the journey to earn it. Even though they understand the circumstances of the joke, it does not become humorous. To know the words which comprise YITBOS is nothing without the experiences which bond you with every brother of Delta Sigma Phi who has ever come before you, and bonds you to every brother who has yet to follow. 

    So what does YITBOS mean?

    In short, nothing... and everything. It is an acronym. It is a noun, a verb, and an adjective. Its meaning and significance is entirely dependent on who you are asking. It means a lot... to me, and to thousands of others throughout the world. To me, it represents cherished and life-long friendships... countless great memories... experiences which helped me into becoming a better man, living a better life... it is a common thread which connects me to others with the same values and principles... and it is something which signifies to me that another has taken the same journey to the same end, even though it was in a different location, with different people, and unique experiences. 

    For many, it means the same things... and more. For some, it means something different... but I cannot speak for them there. Everyone's experiences are unique. YITBOS is a common thread we share which unites us.

    If you are a friend or significant other of someone pledging or of a brother and want to learn the meaning:

      What you should know is that even if you find it, the answer is meaningless: it is the journey which leads you to the answer that gives it meaning. Trust me when I say you will be disappointed if you find the answer. You'll forget it shortly after you learn it because it has no meaning or interest to you.

      Instead, all you will have done is take away from the meaning that it DOES have for those who have journeyed to discover it. So please, don't take that away from them.

      But rest assured, it isn't anything deeply exciting and you are not missing much.

      To those of you who are currently pledging a Delta Sigma Phi chapter:

        The journey is what gives it context. Just like doing a math assignment: the answer alone is not what is important, but you have to show how your reached that answer. When you show your work, there is no "eureka" moment when you reach the answer... it follows a logical flow and path, and give the original problem meaning.

        The meaning of YITBOS is exactly the same. When you reach the answer, you'll say "Ah, that makes sense." It is not the result which is significant, it is the context which will give it meaning.

        What I'm trying to tell you is: Don't focus on the destination and miss the journey. This is an experience which every brother I have ever spoken to looks back on as one of their favorite experiences and some of their best memories of the fraternity---myself included. Most of us would love to be able to do it all again, but this is something you can only do ONCE, so make the most out of it. 

          There is or der beneath the chaos...

        For those still looking for a less cryptic and straight-forward answer: 
        The meaning of YITBOS is revealed only to initiated members of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. But why only to initiated members? It is not about elitism, like some people may contest. Just as with our other fraternity secrets--like all fraternities and sororities--they are exclusive to members, like their experiences going through the pledging process and initiation;  it signifies the values and principles the fraternity was founded upon--which you share with each of your brothers---are not universal, nor common, and is it that fact which distinguishes us. 

        The reality is that most fraternities are not like in Animal House or how they are portrayed in media in movies and television: chronic drinkers, idiots, chauvinistic womanizers, perverts, ignorant jocks, requiring cruel and violent hazing in order to join, and other "frat-boy" stereotypes. Most exist without the majority of the campus knowing they existed. The negative stereotypes have, in fact, lead to fraternities being highly monitored and closely scrutinized... closer than other campus student organizations. There are minimum standards in GPA minimums--often higher than the campus all-men's average--as well as community service participation requirements. There are severe punishments for illegal house parties and underage drinking. Hazing of any form is seriously investigated by Universities and will often result in criminal charges. It has simply become too complicated and more work than the type of people in the negative stereotypes care to deal with so they often do not end up joining a greek organization. 

        This close level of supervision and regulation has lead to higher and higher standards for fraternities and, as such, for their membership. Not everyone meets the fraternity's standards for character and integrity, possesses the commitment necessary to complete the process, or does not share the same values and principles... we are a family who does get to choose who our brothers are. Being so, there is need of ways to distinguish and identify each other in order to acknowledge this distinction.

        These values and principles are not quickly, simply, and easily spoken or written down; nor can they be otherwise communicated through a handshake, a knock, a phrase, or a gesture... let alone can they be expressed through a single word.

        Without these secrets, shared only by members, there would be no way that we could show the hospitality and welcoming that we give to brothers from other chapters who visit. We are able to welcome brothers from visiting chapters with open arms because we already *know* these people we haven't met. It is an ID card which cannot be forged or fake. It is this level of security which allows us to be comfortable allowing a visiting brother to crash on our couch for the night---which I have done myself---without fear because we know we would receive the same welcoming, should we find ourselves in their city. 

        (Minor tangent: Every semester, the Kansas City chapter will take their pledging members on a road trip to visit another chapter for the weekend, and they never visit the same chapter twice. They do this to show their new potential brothers this common thread we share, first hand, and learn the history of the fraternity and of other chapters. They visited our chapter while I was an active member and it was one of my most memorable experiences in the fraternity... it reminded me that I did not join a local fraternity, but a national one. I did not gain 40 brothers, but thousands. Even though we had just met these people, all of us felt like have known each other for a long time. If you ever have the chance, be sure to visit another chapter of your fraternity.)

         ...there is music beneath the noise.


        Brother Insomniac
        Epsilon Beta Chapter

        If you're a DSP brother, active, alum, pledge:  
        Give a shout-out to your local chapter in the comments! If you want to share your own experiences, what YITBOS means to you--or anything other experiences, stories, or whatever else you'd like--feel free to leave a comment.

        If you would like to contact me personally, for some reason, you can do so by writing your message and including your e-mail contact information and posting it as a comment and I will get back to you. (Don't worry about your message/contact info being posted publicly--comments do not show on the site until I have approved/published. This is mainly to control spam and ensure that someone doesn't disclose the actual meaning in the comments. If you are attempting to contact me and leave your contact information in the post, I won't publish the comment. Apart from those exceptions, all posts are otherwise approved.)