Greek Life in Action
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a part of Greek Life when I entered as a college freshman. At Elon, freshman are able to go through recruitment in the spring semester, so I had time to think about it. I got involved on campus, made connections with my professors, and explored this new place I was calling home. To be honest, Greek Life was the furthest thing from my mind. I had my hesitations of being labeled because of the letters that were on my shirt and I didn’t know if I was comfortable with that.
We all know the stereotypes. Sorority girls in tight dresses, with perfect skin, and flawless hair doing that “throwing what you know” thats crowds your newsfeeds. Fraternity boys dressed in preppy clothing, drinking absurd amounts of alcohol, and only being concerned with what party is coming up that night. Overall, these stereotypes paint uninformed members of the student body and yes, there are members of Greek Life who may look and act in character with that stereotype. But, I am here to tell you that is not the majority of us, and I am here to say why being a part of Greek Life was the best thing to happen to me, and my family.
My dad pledged Kappa Alpha Order - Alpha Rho at West Virginia University in 1976. He lived in the big house on the hill, met amazing people, and overall had an incredible experience as an active member in the chapter. But, as all things do, life moved on. Everyone graduated. Brothers scattered around the country, and the world. They got married, had kids, and it would seem from an outsider that that page in those men’s lives, had come to a close. Well, that could not be further from the truth in my dad's case. I think my dad deep down always knew that when he took that pledge to be apart of The Order, he was taking it for life. I didn’t realize what “for life” meant until he got sick.
Now, keep in mind I was in high school when my dad first got sick so I was oblivious to what Greek Life was, was not, and truthfully I had no idea what a Greek brotherhood or a sisterhood meant, until I saw I started to see it in action.
Every surgery day, treatment day, or just a normal hospital day, there were brothers coming in and out to bring cards, eating lunch, or just coming to hang out with my dad. We would all watch WVU football games together, and the phone would ring off the hook from across the world to get the latest news on his recovery. It seemed like for all of those years, his brothers were just always around. Always checking in and always wanting to help. They even started a GoFundMe page to help pay for his oral chemo medication. Through all of this, I didn’t understand why this group of men were so committed to the wellbeing of my dad, and our family. They were just a bunch of frat guys right? Well, I can say with confidence, that his brothers have become like my second fathers. They watch out for my family, our well being, and without their support it would be an even tougher battle than it already is.
My dad has been recovering from his bone marrow transplant (you can read more on that here) when the KA Klassic Golf Tournament in Morgantown, WV was coming up in September. For 25 years brothers would come from all over to golf and join the actives in raising money for academic scholarships. My dad hasn’t missed a tournament in years, and this year was going to be no exception. But, because of his condition, he couldn’t attend and travel alone. So, my sister and I volunteered to go down and join in on the fun.
Usually a “boys weekend,” it was kind of comical to have 20 year old (me) and 16 year old (my sister) girls running around the golfing green with all of the guys; but it was this weekend I saw another account of brotherhood in action. These men adopted my sister and I for the weekend. We went to every lunch, dinner, event, and tailgate that the chapter was holding because to them, we were a part of the KA family. They showed around like we were the apple of their eyes, and I have no doubt that we were. I have never felt so much love from a group of men in my life, because I felt at home. I felt like my family just grew from the dozens and all of a sudden I had an army of brothers who would always be there for me. I was overwhelmed with love, and just when I thought that was the end, I got a phone call.
It was from a dear friend who was also a Kappa Alpha Order brother, only this time it was the Epsilon Mu Chapter at Elon. This chapter of guys have been my friends since I arrived freshman year. I like to think it was a coincidence, that my guy friends just happened to be in the same fraternity as my dad, but I quickly realized that coincidence is never as random as we see it. We chatted for a bit, about dad and everything going in life and it was such an amazing conversation, but that’s what I just thought it was, a conversation. In the next few hours, I started receiving messages from all over the country, and world, from other KA men in the Elon chapter expressing their compassion, and love for me and my family as we push through this trying time, and encouraged us to fight on. With every message, my heart grew. And then, I got an email a week or so later and it was this picture.
To say I broke down when I received that picture, is an understatement. It was only a picture, but to me it meant everything. That, was brotherhood in action. To have these young men support my father, their brother, in that way impacted me more than I could have ever realized. This one picture reminded me of something they have always said, that they have my back, and even from hundreds of miles away, I knew they meant it. They said it was the least they could do, but they have no idea how much it strengthened us, and me.
True brotherhood and sisterhood is not talking about the party the night before, judging another organization, designing t-shirts, or being a part of a “Greek Week Dance”. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting our new comfort colors, being a part of Greek Week Dance, and all of the other fun activities that were share in as a community. But, true brotherhood and sisterhood is more than that. It is helping a member and their family that is in need. It is supporting each other through life, through hell or high water. It is responding to negative behavior in a respectful and constructive way so everyone can grow to be the best version of themselves and continue to serve the community we pledge ourselves to.
You can be an amazing organization, and an awful brotherhood or sisterhood. You can raise thousands of dollars for your charity, serve on many leadership boards, and win a million awards. But, none of that equals brotherhood or sisterhood. Do not misinterpret what I am saying. Being a great organization is half the battle, but it is still only half. If you are not there for your member in a time of need, you have failed. If you see them struggling and do not offer assistance, you have failed. If you do not correct improper, dangerous, and negative behavior, you have failed. Being apart of Greek Life is to grow as an individual, and as a group. If your member falls, so do you, and so does your organization.
I know what they say in the media about Greek Life. I know the tragedies and horrific events they report and I do not condone them. My heart suffers when I hear that a chapter has failed to become a reflection of true brotherhood or sisterhood, because I know the great things that can be accomplished when a chapter reaches their full potential of their mission. After witnessing true brotherhood and sisterhood in action, it is not a doubt in my mind that Greek Life is the best thing to ever happen to my family. Now, it is up to the Greek community to show that we are more than what the media thinks of us. I will go up to bat for any true brotherhood and sisterhood, and I will defend them until my voice gives out because they have shown me what true and unconditional love is and I can only say that I am grateful to be apart of such a wonderful community.
Although the main story of this is about my dad and his brotherhood, I need to mention my sisterhood.
After seeing the amazing connection my dad had to his brothers, I knew I wanted to be apart of Greek Life too. I found my home with the amazing women of Alpha Xi Delta. My sisters have played a huge part in my life. The women you see here, and even the ones you don't see in these pictures, have been my strength and my light these past few years. Through every obstacle I have faced, they have been present. Every prayer, letter, phone call, FaceTime, package, bouquet of flowers, Edible Arrangements and beyond have made me feel loved, wanted, appreciated, and above all, supported. I could not have made this journey without any of you. Like with every sisterhood, there have been trying times and tested faith, but our sisterhood always comes out on top because we know we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. We have made a commitment to always be by each other's side, and I could not be prouder to share my letters with all of you. I love you so much. SATR.
A special thanks to..
The sisters of Alpha Xi Delta - Theta Nu, you women are my strength, thank you.
The brothers of Kappa Alpha Order - Alpha Rho, thank you for being my extended family.
The brothers of Kappa Alpha Order - Epsilon Mu, you men mean more to me than any of you can imagine and I am so proud to be your peer. Thank you.