Around this time of year, numerous articles appear urging people to rush or not rush or whatever. I figured I might as well add my two cents…
People have asked me “What does your fraternity mean to you?” or, and frequently from my non-Greek friend’s parents, “Why join a house?”. I feel that I have an answer that many of us in the Greek community feel is right, but not many of us know how to verbalize. I don’t even know if I can do the answer justice.
My fraternity is incredibly important to me for a few reasons and the first is probably the toughest to convey. Because, while sure, the words may seem basic, easy, and even cliche, I am just not sure that you can really understand it. I’m not discounting anyone’s intelligence so much as saying that it is such a powerful feeling that you have to actually experience it in order to truly understand it:
All fraternities recognize “the bond of brotherhood” in their own unique was and there is a reason as well as a truth to this. I won’t lie, even on an admissions website blog, I thought about transferring out of Cornell. I was looking at other universities, mostly closer to home, and I had even started to fill out paperwork for some of them. In the end though, the biggest thing that kept me here on this campus was my brotherhood.
I cannot say it was the only thing. Cornell’s reputation is incredible and it is a huge help in the real world. I worked at a prestigious, well known bank this summer, and one of the projects that I worked on I am continuing to work on while at school. I emailed the client and apologized for not being able to put as much time in as I would like, and their response was “You’re at Cornell. The fact that you have any time is impressive”. People recognize this university. Additionally, Ithaca is a really cool and pretty place. And both my parents went here. My dad loved it so much that he tried to name one of us Cornell. Thankfully, my mom had veto power. Sure the classes are great too, but at the end of the day, I could make due without many of these factors. The 34 other guys that I am currently living with, the 5 that are abroad, and the 12 that are living in college town…I could not make due without them.
There is a true bond that is created in a fraternity, a bond that is tough to explain. Maybe it is because of pledging, or maybe it is living in the same house and eating the same meals, or sharing the same secrets. Whatever it is, it cannot be pinpointed. I don’t know if it is because I can find someone to share a beer and a story with on a Tuesday night, someone who will run FULL speed down the suspension bridge while I am walking with a girl and tackle me, or because the 14 other guys in my pledge class know things about me that almost no one else in the world does (not even my mom!). Or the fact that I have 50 guys who have got my back in a bar brawl. Or a ride when I am silly drunk. Or just someone to listen. Whatever it is I need, it is in this brotherhood.
This bond extends too. It isn’t just the guys a few years older then me or a few years younger either. While yes, I will be staying on a brother from the class of 2009′s couch over winter break while I work at a law firm in New York, it was a brother from the class of 2002 that convinced me that I should apply to his law firm. And I am hoping that a brother from the class of 1987 can get me a job this summer too. Call it nepotism if you want, but I see it as a way of helping each other. We call each other brothers for a reason, blood does flow thicker than water, and even though I have never met a significant portion of the 1500+ living alumni from my Cornell chapter, I know that they are my brothers for a reason.
The fraternity also provides a home. I know where I can return to at the end of the day. Recently, my family has been going through some turmoil as far as our identity and location. My home for 15+ years may disappear over-night, but no matter what, I while always be able to return here and be welcome. While I feel this personally, it has become all the more apparent to me as alumni have come back. One brother brought his girlfriend back. Another needed a weekend away, so he came here. Homecoming is nothing more then a bunch of guys who miss the house.
Sam Roberts once said: “You can build a house, you can’t build a home”. On paper, I have joined a house, but I know that I have also found a home. That is what my fraternity is. That is what it means to me.
My Pledge Class