“Try everything once except incest and folk dancing,” a wise man once said. I try to live my life by this bit of advice, and I believe the world would be a better place if everyone else did too. The best way to enrich one’s soul is to step outside of your normal comfort zone.
Becoming a member of a fraternity or sorority is the ultimate way to expand your horizons. I became a member when I came to school, and I can honestly say it is the best thing I have ever done for myself. Yeah, the parties and all the other hedonistic ventures I engaged in made for some of the best times of my life, but in hindsight it was the people I met and the hardships we faced together that have made me a stronger, better and more tolerant person.
The most trying times of my life came and passed while I lived in my chapter house. I must admit I did little more than party like a rock star the first few semesters, and the nights of drunken debauchery were fun until they nearly got me expelled from school. I did not get expelled from school because of the one main attribute that separates Greek-letter societies from all the other clubs on campus; the reciprocity of brotherhood. While I was fighting to stay in school, my house was fighting to stay alive, as both of us were locked in a myriad of discipline problems. When one of our brothers passed away in October of that year, we became emboldened in our desire to survive not for ourselves but for each other. With the blessing and support of my fraternity, I ceased being a drunken maniac so I could still contribute to our cause. In turn all of us fought tooth and nail to keep our chapter alive for each other and others who had yet to experience what we valued so dearly. Survive we did, and we did it together.
It was during this fight that the true meaning of brotherhood surfaced for me. A group a guys who would not have been friends any other way, a group of guys who did not always get along, found themselves putting aside petty differences and banding together in what was a bitter and dire fight, emerging victorious. There are plenty of guys in my house I would not trust my bank account to or let my sister date (if I had a sister), but there is not one guy I wouldn’t help out of a tight spot if he needed me. Brothers in arms.
Learning to live, interact, and work with such a diverse group of people is great experience for anyone. Your whole life will be spent working with people you do not like and would rather not have anything to do with. Would it not make your life easier if you possessed the ability to find some trait in that person that made their presence bearable? Living with people that drive you crazy on a regular basis is the single best way to attain this skill.
I have tried some crazy things in my life. In fact, thinking off the top of my head the only things I’ve been offered and haven’t tried are acid, cocaine, and man-love. I’ve even tried folk dancing, although I do not recommend it. Trying out a fraternity has helped make me who I am today more than any other experience in college. I would urge all non-Greeks, no matter what year in school you are, to at least check out recruitment week. Greek life can be a wonderful thing if you give it a chance.
Heroes of the week: Everyone involved with Greek life who is bending over backwards to make the system better: Trevor Udden and Annie Miller for taking endless amounts of criticism and always getting back up to fight, Tim Ulrich and Sarah Tomsick for re-engineering recruitment, Chris Cole for being such an exemplary human being it makes me nauseous, and all of you other lovable souls that I lack the space to mention.
Zero of the Week: A certain fraternity whose recruitment slogan this fall is “We’re not cocky, we’re just better than you.” Wow, it sure is good to see that winning the Smythe Award hasn’t inflated your collective ego…even my house, notorious for printing some of the most terrible t-shirts in recorded history, hasn’t printed something that conceded. Don’t get me wrong, I think getting that award even while battling campus last year is a marvelous coup, but if you really are better than everyone else you would use this award as ammunition to change the rules on campus to benefit all Greeks, not as a velvet glove to stroke your self-image with. Switch the adjectives in your slogan, and that is what I will think of your house until you prove me wrong.