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


10 Tips for Incoming Freshmen

This post was actually not written by but by Steven Jackson who was my new member educator Hope you enjoy and pay attention because he says these things from experience.

Advice for Incoming Freshman
1. During the first week of school, it is essential that you introduce yourself to your professors. Make sure to give them your first and last name, and set up a personal conference with them one-on-one. Meet with them on a regular basis throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, professors will be more apt to give you those couple extra points that could bump you a letter grade, but they won’t do that if they can’t put name to face and know that you are working for it.

2. Never underestimate homework assignments. In some classes, the grades you’ll have will come from exams. In the classes that have regular homework assignments, they could make a huge difference in grades.

3. GO TO CLASS! Some classes record attendance, and attendance can very well be incorporated in your final grade. This also helps professors recognize your efforts during the semester, and could once again be beneficial in improving your grade.

4. Get involved, make NEW friends, and join organizations. These promote excellent resources when it comes to class. You’ll meet people that you have class with, people who have taken those classes before, etc. If you can get in good with a group of people, they will be more than willing to help you succeed.

5. Manage your time well. Do not think that just because you are not in class, you do not need to focus on the class. Treat school like a job. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work on homework, studying, going to class, etc. This will reduce the necessity of last minute cramming and stressing out during exams/midterms/finals.

6. Don’t forget to have fun. If you practice good time-management skills, you will open up your evenings/weekends to unwind and take your focus off of school. Temporarily taking your mind away from studies will aid you in de-stressing and can also help you build quality relationships with the people you meet during your collegiate career.

7. Drop the high school sweetheart. Sure, you grew up together, graduated together, etc. The truth is, holding on to your significant other into your collegiate career, especially if they are not going to school where you are, will only hinder your chances for success. Running home every weekend to spend time with them will only result in you missing out on a major part of the college experience; building new friendships and relationships that will likely stick with you long after graduation. Nobody wants to hang out with the person who can’t let go of their high school days.

8. Your high school wasn’t as awesome as you thought it was. Hang up the letterman’s jacket until the 10 year reunion. Nobody is really that interested in your state championship either. Yeah, it’s quite an accomplishment, but chances are you are not here on an athletic scholarship so you couldn’t have been that great of a contributor.

9. Contrarily, your high school wasn’t as awful as you thought it was, either. We all hated certain people, teachers, administrators, etc. from our high schools. Whenever you spend a great portion of your life in the same town with the same people, yeah, you get tired of them. Don’t ruin your chances of meeting new people in college by constantly complaining about the problems you had during your high school days.

10. Don’t be stupid. Sure, college is a time to open your mind and experience new things in life. Just don’t go overboard. Hang on to your values, morals, and ethics, but remain understanding and willing to listen to those who believe differently. You will meet people from many different walks of life in college. Don’t do something just because your new friends do it, but at the same time don’t hate someone for carrying a different set of values than you.