From time to time, I take a break from making lists of reasons to stay in college for a fifth year, and covering the administrative shenanigans of our beloved educational institutions, to do something a bit more serious. This is another one of those columns. Pull up a seat boys, it’s time to talk about brotherhood.
Now, I know you get all the same bullshit during rush, saying that everyone gets along great and that the house is the best at everything ever. You’ll learn, hopefully not until you’ve been initiated, that this is at least partially bullshit. Well-constructed, highly-orchestrated bullshit. There will be guys, you will come to find in your time, that you cannot stand, and the house is by no means perfect. Maybe they always show up late, or always have an excuse, or whine about policy during chapter meetings. Whatever it is, something about them pushes all the wrong buttons and pisses you off. However, in any good chapter, it’s these relationships that show us just how strong our brotherhood is.
A few years ago, I was going through a pretty tough time. I had just lost a good friend in another chapter on campus, and was having a hell of a time coming to terms with the fact that one of my grandparents was also pretty sick at the time. My grades were, compared to high school and the first few semesters of college, complete shit. I no longer really knew what I wanted to do for a career, and I had grown incredibly frustrated with my work in the lab that I had spent the better part of 8 years working in. It was probably the lowest point of my college career. I was unhappy, I was frustrated, and I had basically lost faith in my ability to do anything right. My parents, as much as I love them, didn’t really understand what was going on with me at the time, though I hadn’t really opened up to them about it.
This went on for a few months, and about midway through fall semester, a few brothers confronted me about it. I had basically stopped caring about my positions, and wasn’t contributing like I used to, so people were getting worried. I spent a few hours sitting with the four guys that brought it up, basically going through everything that was bothering me and talking about all the shit that had been dragging me down. A few of the guys involved were guys I hardly talked to before, or younger guys I didn’t know all that well, but they were there for me to let me vent. Brotherhood, ultimately, is important for situations like this. We join our chapters for many reasons, but at the end of the day, we are a family, and like family, while we may not all always like each other, we’re still held together by a common bond.
We go to college to build new relationships, and friendships that should last a lifetime. Every one of our organizations was founded on the ideals of lifelong friendship and camaraderie. For me, my chapter has been my family away from home. I will confide in many of my brothers just like I would my own family, sometimes, like in the above situation, more, because I didn’t know how to approach my parents about this particular problem.
So, as much as we joke around with each other and occasionally hold grudges or fight it out, always remember to patch things up with your brothers. Brotherhood, like family, takes work to keep together. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
Don’t go around bitching about other brothers behind their backs like a bunch of catty women. Bring your issues up man to man, face to face. They may get pissed off and you may yell at each other, but that’s how men settle disagreements. We yell, we fight, and we get over it with mutual respect for one another. Perhaps not mutual friendship, but at least mutual respect.
Conduct yourself as an honorable man and your brothers will do the same. On the flip-side, expect brothers to call you out when you abdicate your responsibilities. A year after my soul-searching jaunt, I needed a good ass-kicking for not giving a fuck about my classes. It was my pledge brothers calling me out before my parents ever knew about it, and had I listened to them, I would have saved myself a lot of heartache.
In life, there will always be a time when we need help. I can honestly say that I would back up any of my brothers, and I would trust all of them to back me up or help me out if I was in dire need. I hope you all feel you can say that as well, because the bonds of brotherhood are the reasons our organizations exist in the first place. If we ever lose that, we’ve simply become a social philanthropy club. Fraternities are much more than that. A fraternity is a family, and families stick together.