I saw a picture on this site the other day of three gentlemen carrying cases of beer, dressed up in blazers and pastels, while walking towards the camera. At first glance, I simply thought to myself, “Meh” but clicked on the comments just to read what the increasingly creative TFM faithful had in store. I came across a comment that informed everyone that the boys pictured were just that: boys, young men still in high school. They had yet to earn their letters.
Allow me to backtrack a bit. I grew up hearing about my father’s shenanigans with his fraternity brothers in college and watched my older brother have the time of his fucking life in college because of the house he joined. I knew I wanted to be in a fraternity; a fraternity at a school whose social scene is dominated by Greeks. I knew the only way to properly ensure I had the best college experience was to rush.
Rush at my school happens to be second semester for freshmen, so I had an entire semester to check out places rather than just a single week or two of rush in the fall. I ended up really liking a certain “top tier” house, we’ll call them the Omegas for the sake of anonymity (see also: dick bag trolls from Nationals). I was put on the rush list from the beginning and fucked my first college chick at one of their parties. I knew one brother because he was a few years ahead of me in high school and he knew my older brother. After that, I never really got to know any of the other brothers besides the fundamental bullshit you tell freshman. However, I still came out and by November I was going there every weekend.
Finally, rush week came around and I was pumped. I had gotten it in my mind that of course I’d get a bid. I knew one guy really well and a couple of other guys think I’m the tits. I go to all their parties and talk to the rush chairs every single time. So I began rush week. Goddamnit I was such a naïve child.
After three days, I came to a sudden and blunt realization: these kids are assholes. We can all agree that during rush week, you are forced to actually get to know rushees, (even the shitty ones) and the same applies for rushees meeting brothers. As a rushee you’re not focused on just getting laid, but truly meeting the kids you one day hope to be brothers with. Well, I looked around and I hated all of these fucking kids. I came out to the parties because I had a good time and my friends were rushing the same house, but the people who were actually in the fraternity were not my type of guys. Far from it, in fact. All the other kids that were vying for a bid were all arrogant sacks of shit with their head so far up their ass they’d give Kanye a run for his money. That was it, I was done. This wasn’t for me. I left the Omega house and have never been back since.
I was rushing for all the wrong reasons. I was rushing to find a solid place to party for my remaining time at college. I didn’t care where, so long as the parties were good, the liquor was flowing, and the ladies were acting anything but ladylike. I was going Greek simply to be Greek, and not to join an organization that stands for something, and find a group who actually act like brothers. The idea didn’t even register in my mind. I was, and of course still am, a fucking idiot.
I was lucky. Before I cut myself off from the rest of the Greek world, I was still rushing another house, we’ll call them the Deltas. I had stopped rushing Delta because they weren’t considered a “top tier” fraternity like the Omegas, but I came back for the last part of rush week and got a bid. I will fully admit that I in no way, shape, or form deserved that bid, but I got it, and originally hated my decision to accept it. I considered dropping frequently during my first month. Nothing was really making sense to me. I didn’t know enough of the guys to feel comfortable being their bitch, but I didn’t drop. I stayed with it. I had joined simply, “to be in a frat” and hadn’t a clue why these organizations have lasted almost two hundred years.
It wasn’t until I finally got to know the kids, particularly my pledge brothers, that I realized I couldn’t have lucked into a better fit for me. I was broken down from this cocky know-it-all freshman and started to become a man. I would become a member of a unit that was my pledge class and soon my fraternity. I bought into pledging and after that I, of course, considered dropping, again. But if you never considered dropping while pledging you didn’t pledge hard enough. I didn’t have to attempt and act like I was a gift from God on campus, or shove my father’s paycheck in their faces. All I had to be was a normal fucking college student. These guys were just like me. I had started out for the wrong reasons, but eventually I had some sense knocked into me.
Too often, kids are changing who they are for worse just to fit into a fraternity that is considered “top tier.” I was an inexperienced youngster who fed into the idea of a tier system as a freshman and stupidly let that concept alone dictate how I was rushing. But a fraternity is a collection of individuals who stand for something greater than just themselves, a set of values that say we are a cohesive unit, and, on occasion, throw the fuck down. It’s something you can’t read on the internet, or be taught with a guide book, but you have to tangibly be a part of to understand.
So, I tell all those kids out there who will be going through rush this fall and coming spring, make your decision based on the brothers, not the parties or the look. Don’t act like superficial little girls. Regardless of what letters you represent, any fraternity can throw a great party. Your pledge brothers will be your best friends. You’ll be with them for a number of years in college and even more once you graduate. I’d rather have gentlemen I respect, would risk my life for, and still be able to rage with around me for years to come than just a few good parties a semester with jerkoffs who tried to fit the frat stereotype, like those gentlemen in that picture.
I still am a dumbass, and don’t pretend to hold all the answers, but I know one thing for sure: my fraternity is something I value like no other in college. Cherish it, embrace it and don’t ever forget it.