For better or for worse, I’m on a bunch of mailing lists. Thankfully, these are all e-mail lists and it is relatively simple to keep or delete any message that I receive as well as to delete myself from the entire mailing list, if I so choose. One of the lists that I’m on sends out news on fraternities and sororities; I joined this list a number of years ago when I was serving as the local alumni advisor to my former undergraduate chapter of Sigma Pi Fraternity. While most of the news that gets sent out is negative of fraternities (hey, the mainstream media only covers negative stories about those “frat boys”), every once in a while a decent story or opinion piece about fraternity life is circulated.
Earlier this month, I received a great opinion piece entitled, “What’s Right With Fraternities” which talks about the real-world benefits of joining Greek Life. This piece was penned by a recent fraternity alumnus named Ben O’Donnell. Inspired by this young man’s words, I put together an e-mail and forwarded it to a bunch of the fraternity alumni and undergraduates that I know. I re-read my e-mail to them the other day and thought that it would be the perfect entry to add to this blog. So below for your reading pleasure is an e-mail that I sent to my fraternity brothers both young and old talking about what is right with fraternity life. Enjoy.
It is all too often that commentaries are released which take pride in lambasting fraternities. Groups like Sigma Pi are called archaic institutions with no real place in contemporary society. These commentaries are usually written by individuals with a personal agenda against Greek life.
Yet, once in a very long while a positive commentary is released about fraternity life. On Sunday, the Chronicle of Higher Education released a commentary written by a recent graduate of Dartmouth College praising the virtues of fraternities. The entire commentary is forwarded below and I encourage you to read it in its entirety at your leisure. However, I would suggest that the commentary hits on topics relevant to everyone BCC’ed on this e-mail.
On career networking and alumni involvement:
“Such exercises in responsibility foster a better version of the type of career networking that so many universities advertise. Sometimes fraternity graduates will go to work for older alumni. But that preferential hiring does not take place at the same remove as typical alma mater favoritism, in which the employer and employee know little about each other, other than that they both cheer for the same college football team. Rather, working alumni still involved with a fraternity (as corporation president, alumni adviser, or a similar position) witness firsthand the capabilities of undergraduate brothers. To do an important in-house job well while still a student is to prove to established alumni that you probably have what it takes to be a valuable employee.”
On real benefits of fraternity living:
“Fraternities bolster collegiate friendships more than any other social organization I can imagine. Much, if not all, of a brotherhood lives under one roof, and nearly all the day-to-day activities of college life are often shared: Brothers study together, watch TV or shoot pool together, eat together, and hang out doing nothing together. That type of immersion-usually not at the expense of extrafraternal friendships-does create a special type of camaraderie. At my fraternity that is evident from the groups of recently graduated brothers living together in New York and Boston, and from the dozens of alumni who return to visit the house every year-some of whom graduated 50 or more years ago.”
On undergraduate leadership responsibilities:
“Fraternities also demand responsibility in order to keep a house running. Undergraduate fraternity officers keep a house afloat by managing its finances, overseeing building maintenance, and acting as liaisons to university and national fraternity officials. There are other responsibilities too, like monitoring parties, coordinating charity events, and, of course, keeping a watchful eye on the beer supply.”
The ultra-liberalization of many college campuses has forced some of our very own Sigma Pi chapters to constantly play defense against outrageous attacks. I would suggest that now more than ever those of us who believe in the benefits of fraternity life should extol these virtues loud and clear.
The haters will keep on hating…but they should not silence us.
P.S. – Feel free to forward this message to others – especially if you are an alumni volunteer and you’d like your undergraduates to hear something positive for a change.
And so as the haters keep on hating, I wanted to send out this message to all of the readers of my blog. Thank you, Ben O’Donnell, for a well-written piece on the benefits of fraternity life. If anyone wants to read the entire opinion piece, you can go the Chronicle of Higher Education and sign up for their website (it’s free, I think) or you can let me know and I’ll see if I can get you a copy via e-mail.