(Written for the
White and Blue, Di-Phi's annual literary magazine.
The highest office in Di-Phi is the Joint Senate President;
he (or she) runs the weekly meetings, though the President Pro Tempore
will take his place if he's absent. Both rank higher than the Critic,
(who's in charge of each week's topic of debate), who in turn outranks the Clerk.
He records minutes for each meeting in the Di Chambers, where the Sergeant-at-Arms
sits, ready to expel Senators, though he really only outranks the Historian.
Of course, any Senator worth their pin could tell you that the Historian,
Clerk, and whoever else never really use their rank per se; all that matters is that the President
has chief authority in the Di and Phi Chambers, caretaken by the Sergeant-at-Arms.
Even the President, though, is legally bound by the Constitution and By-Laws, which the
(President Pro Tempore) officially interprets, in rulings recorded by the Clerk,
alongside speeches, Di-Phi Challenges, PPMA, and Reports Of The Critic.
Speeches and, sometimes, PPMA (an oratorical grab-bag) are the only things that the Critic
will judge. Never New Business, Final Announcements, or even the Historian's
Report, where said Historian can speak on anything from the life of Thomas Wolfe to why the Clerk
shouldn't be slack in turning minutes in for the University Archives. (It sets a terrible precedent,
and it's the Historian's job to officially submit them.) As chair of Constitutional Committee, the PPT
works with the past in his own way, amending the timeless Constitution so that, say, the Sergeant-at-Arms
can, to help keep roll and maintain a Senator database, appoint an Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms.
(Likewise the Clerk.) Other committees are chaired by certain officers by default. The Critic,
naturally, runs Programs Committee, while in addition to Constitutional Committee the PPT
also runs Executive Committee, where the most urgent and sensitive business is discussed. The Historian
tends to be a lone wolf, digging through the archives by himself, but since both it and the President
are roles geared towards older senators, they won't be handing rants to the Clerk
about how much their lives suck any time soon. Delivering letters to petitioners is more the Clerk's
forte (both acceptance and rejection), as is writing down the vote counts that the Sergeant-at-Arms
tabulates for each official resolution and motion. Of course, it's largely the President's
job to make sure guests and new Senators know what a resolution or a PPMA actually is; the Critic
may create the debate topic, but that's as far as they go. The President must call on history and
Di-Phi's vaunted heritage to sucker--erm, draw in guests, prospective Senators, future PPTs.
These six offices are the visible face of Di-Phi, but the Societies are so much more than the PPT
and friends that it's not even funny. If you don't have any reports or business, why have a Clerk
around to write it all down? If you don't follow (or make up) sacred Di-Phi traditions, what Historian
could report on them? If Di-Phi never reaches quorum, what's the point of the Sergeant-at-Arms
to take roll? More than a fellowship, more than a bunch of pictures and a bunch of critiques
on public speaking: Di-Phi is an idea: a promotion of virtue and knowledge that dates from 1795 to the very present.
And this doesn't even include the other offices: the Di and Phi Presidents, the Treasurer, the Time
Clerk, the Di Sergeant-at-Arms and Phi PPT--all these roles are critical to the history and future
of the Societies, but only just as important as you, the person reading these lines, can yourself be.