This blog was written by a fraternity brother and lifelong friend of mine from Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) at Syracuse. With all of the recent news about Greek life, I thought it would be important to recognize the positives way that participating in Greek life can influence your college experience and your life.
Talk to a parent of a college student today and it’s likely that they do not hold Greek life on campuses in very high regard. Why? Because of all the negative press. As a student that attended the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse, I can tell you that the media is always looking for the story with sensationalism and controversy.
While the negative actions of undergraduate Greek members across the country are indefensible, unfortunately, the positive side of Greek life usually falls under-reported. Do you hear about the philanthropy efforts that many of the fraternity and sororities are doing?
When I went to school, my fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji), did a weeklong fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis, and we raised a significant amount of money for the charity. As I found out when visiting my alma matter last month, this effort continues today and it far exceeds that we put forth back in the 80's. Kudos to the brothers at the Sigma Nu chapter of Phi Gamma Delta for doing such a great job, and making the effort to support the local community.
Looking at things from a broader perspective, there is much more to Greek life than raising monies for charities. It truly helps prepare young men and women for the real world that they will face when they leave college and the safety of their home base with Mom and Dad. These are things not taught in the classroom. How about the opportunity to develop leadership skills? Where else in college do you have the chance to be a president, financial secretary or social chairman in charge of teams, budgets, large-scale events and other initiatives? Nowhere. And, that translates to real-life management training.
And then there is the brotherhood; the sisterhood; the camaraderie. After being out of college for more than 30 years, I am happy to have a loyal network of friends from my college days. These are friends that would help me at the drop of a hat. In addition, the friendships made with undergraduate and graduate members can also turn into networking opportunities. If you look at the world of business, your next job isn’t coming from Monster.com, but from your iPhone’s Contacts. I am happy to have helped many individuals from my fraternity connect with business professionals in order to help them start off on their careers.
From my own fraternity experience, there is of course the lesson that every Fiji learned from the Purple Pilgrim...budget you time. You need to find the right balance between school, fraternity and personal time and time management is probably the most essential tool you will need in the business world.
My Greek experience helped mold me as an individual. Some of my greatest learning experiences came during my days at Phi Gamma Delta. To this day I still say that the best four years of my life were spent as a Syracuse Phi Gam.
If you have a child that is considering Greek life you have every right to be concerned because the issues that do make the press are very real. Make sure that the fraternity or sorority they consider offers a foundation of leadership development, educational programs and lifelong friendships. If so, your child will be a part of a community that will help mold him or her into a well-rounded individual during their college days and beyond.
Graduate Brother of Phi Gamma Delta