Benefits of a Fraternity, Part 2 Brotherhood

I know I dogged on this term earlier a little bit, so I would like to clarify; I mentioned brotherhood as a go-to standard response to the original questions. I don’t mean at all that brotherhood is not a big deal or that it is a bad thing at all. But to somebody on the outside, there is little understanding about what brotherhood is or what it really means. Brotherhood is much more than a group of close friends or hunting and/or drinking buddies. These men that I now call brothers aren’t merely close friends, they truly are family. Growing up, I didn’t have any brothers, only a sister, so the concept of having a brother is a relatively unique experience for me. I didn’t get just one brother, though. I got roughly 400 of them. True, I don’t actually know most of them. In fact, I’ve only truly met a few of them. But they are all still brothers, an integral part of my family. They are the ones that will be standing beside me at my wedding, the ones that I can lean on more than anybody on this earth when I am at the lowest points and struggles in life all the way up to my greatest, most successful accomplishments, and literally any point in my life in between.

On the subject of brotherhood as it relates to being like family, there is one surefire way to know that this brotherhood is the real deal. Several times, when we have been out doing something, especially just two or three of us together, complete strangers have made a point to mention to us that they could tell we’re brothers. This wasn’t because we all had our letters on, in fact, in most of these scenarios we didn’t. But the way we acted, bantering back and forth and laughing at each other’s misfortune, horsing around, etc. made people think we were actually legally brothers, as if we had literally grown up together from childhood. My favorite situation where this sort of recognition occurred happened when my big brother and I took a trip to the river to do some swimming. His girlfriend and one of her friends went with us, and we were swimming and horsing around in the water, tackling each other and dragging each other into the river, and an older couple was watching and laughing at our shenanigans. The gentleman said between laughs, “I can tell you two are brothers! Probably been picking on each other like that your whole lives.” We laughed and told him that we were actually fraternity brothers, and had only been picking on each other for a couple of years. At the time it didn’t seem all that significant, but when I reflect on that moment, it is another one of those things that causes me to swell up with pride. To me, it means that this fraternity is doing at least one thing right in the subject of brotherhood, which is largely considered a major part of fraternity life.

Brotherhood cannot be summed up by picking on each other and horsing around like it is nothing more than normal behavior between brothers. While we do it quite a bit, that’s not even what makes us true brothers. I believe that the strongest expression of our brotherhood can be most accurately described by the way we pick each other up out of the hard times. I have personally seen brothers struggle with things like bad break-ups with long time girlfriends, particularly girlfriends that they had been with for so long that it would have been more expected that they would end up getting married at some point. As you can imagine, this can have devastating effects on a man, and I think that had it not been for the support they could find from the other brothers, helping pick them up and push forward, they would have probably done some very regrettable things. I also saw a brother who struggled with an addiction lead him to thoughts of suicide that had it not been for a couple of particular brothers showing some much needed support and at times words of tough love, he would likely not be here today, and he credits these brothers with literally saving his life. When another one of our brothers lost his mother, we were there and even though many of us had not met her, we made a two hour road trip to see him and attend her funeral. In the following months brothers freed up time in their schedules to help him make trips back home to haul trailer loads of personal effects that he had been left with in the wake of her passing. I am not sure if I could describe actually witnessing stronger support than the way we gathered around him and helped him stay strong enough to finish school and graduate the following year. For me, if it hadn’t been for being a part of this fraternity I would have been out of school after the first year. My grades were simply terrible and without the desire to come back and be involved in school had it not been for the fraternity. The chapter also provided a great support group, some guys even going out of their way to help me pull my grades up, which are now steadily climbing every semester.

Steven, Zac, and Tommy helping at the Darr Center

Steven, Zac, and Tommy helping at the Darr Center

What can YOU get out of a Fraternity?

Last month one of our members, Steven Jackson, wrote couple pages about what you can get from being involved within a Fraternity? I will be post a couple paragraphs a week so be sure to stay in tune!

People constantly ask me, especially around the time of recruitment, what the point is of being in a fraternity, or what they stand to gain from joining a fraternity; more specifically they ask these questions about Alpha Gamma Sigma. Of course, there are the standard answers: Connections with members past and present; resources for academic success; being part of something bigger than yourself; you’ll regret passing such an opportunity; it looks really good on a resume; or one of my personal favorites, brotherhood. But what does any of that actually mean? What does one truly stand to gain from joining a fraternity, particularly Alpha Gamma Sigma? If a person wants to join to gain the things I just mentioned, they aren’t going to succeed in the fraternity. There are a million ways to gain those advantages, 99.9% of which don’t require one to join a fraternity. I would like to address what I personally see as real, concrete reasons to join a fraternity, and more to the point, to join Alpha Gamma Sigma.

Fraternity life has absolutely nothing to do with the things advertised. The advantages that are advertised as reasons to “go Greek” include social status, community betterment, connections that could lead to a career, opportunities for academic success, etc. Don’t get me wrong, Greek life provides all of these things, and they are all great aspects of the Greek community. But ultimately they are nothing more than fringe benefits. You can create a great network of friends in college, and be socially involved on and off campus. You can become involved in the community in many ways through volunteer work. You can network and gain post-graduation connections through both of the aforementioned benefits, and also through things like jobs, school itself, and clubs that demand much less time, money, and effort. Academic success can come through many of these same benefits; you don’t have to be in a fraternity to have a 4.0 GPA. Anymore, Greek life has gained a bit of a negative reputation in society, so while it may help on a resume it could just as easily be damaging to employment opportunities, depending on the type of employment and employer. None of these things require affiliation with a certain arrangement of Greek letters, but Greek life is certainly a good place to find them.

Being Greek and being an Ag Sig, one tends to gain so much, if we all truly realized it our heads would explode. But we tend to forget the most important parts, defending these other things when confronted by those outside the Greek community. Simply put, they just aren’t enough to make one want jump in and become a part of it.  We overlook the inward gains as we reach out for the more tangible, material benefits. We forget that you come out the other side a completely different person with a different view of the world around us and the parts of life that actually make life worth living. I don’t know how else to really describe these inward gains without doing so from a very personal standpoint.

First and foremost, the letters AGS on my chest are merely a symbolic representative of what I hold in my heart. By themselves, they are nothing more than three letters from another language. To the man behind them they are the physical, tangible, recognizable symbols of what I feel whenever I see them, or whenever somebody speaks them. What I feel are senses of pride, inclusion, and a desire to improve not only myself on a daily basis, but the world around me as well. The pride that I feel isn’t a boastful, holier than thou pride. It’s the kind of pride that whenever those letters are presented, when they are spoken, I feel a sense of accomplishment. This leads me to my second point, which is inclusion. Adding to that pride is the overwhelming joy to know that I am a part of that. The best comparison I can make here is sports. When a baseball team wins the World Series, millions of their fans around the world are proud to claim supremacy. But the players themselves, the ones who physically put in the work on the field to achieve this goal, have

the honor and privilege to actually be a part of making it happen. Within the fraternity, the best example of this is through our annual philanthropy event, which brings to light my third point. Last year we raised more than $1000 in just one day to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project. At the personal level, each and every one of us take pride in being able to come together and do our part to contribute to this event, which put our fraternity in a positive light. Better than that, we were able to take that positive, not for our own personal gain, but to give it directly to a community of men and women who have sacrificed more than we likely ever will, asking nothing in return. We didn’t do it for Alpha Gamma Sigma; we did it for the community.

Written By: Steven Jackson

Steven Jackson

Steven Jackson

We Ain’t Fake

Salute to the Cowboy Past

I’ve never rode a horse, Or wrestled a steer,

I prefer Chardonnay, Over whiskey or beer.

Can’t tell you the difference, Tween a chink and a chap,

But I’m a cowboy you see, Cause I wear the hat.

I listen to red dirt, Almost everyday,

And I reckon that’s country, Or that’s what they say.

I own a supped up truck, And that makes me true,

Cause ownin a hat and a truck, Is all cowboys do.

This poems a lie, But it’s reality today,

It’s what people think, Of the cowboy and his way.

It’s a shame to think, What we have become,

All the true cowboys, Are off to the sun.

I tip my hat, To the true cowboy past,

And thank God each day, I’m at least one of the last.

Special Thanks to Blake Adams