Saturday, October 06, 2007

Animal House Goes Wine And Cheese? Yikes

Yoga, wine-tasting and opera is not what fills my memories of being in a college fraternity. This article was sent to me by a friend , and it made me grimace. The picture that accompanies the story on the MSNBC page shows a group of guys in their 8 AM Yoga class in the basement of their frat house.

To begin with, when I was in college nobody was awake at 8 AM, and there was no way anyone would want to lay down on the basement floor. Granted, the Beta Theta Pi house at San Diego State University did not have a basement, but if it did I can promise you the floor would have been gross and not fit for humans to do yoga.

Yes, I went to a "party school," and there was no way we would have been listening to opera (look up the definition of "Party School" in the mid 1980's and any reputable source will say "see SDSU"). But fraternities are not just about the stereotypes of the parties. It was, and is, much more than that in my life.

I am proud of my membership in Beta Theta Pi. Yes, we had our share youthful idiotic things that give frats a bad name, but at the same time we did have a real experience of brotherhood. I feel very fortunate to have been part of this group of men, most of whom have gone on to create amazing careers, loving families and inspiring lives. To this day a week does not go by that I do not have contact with someone from this time in my life, even though I now live 2000 miles away from California. Both of my kids god-fathers are my fraternity brothers, as they are role models whom I am honored to have involved with my children.

As I read this article (which I think is mostly PR and hype on the part of Sigma Phi Epsilon at the University of Missouri - Columbia...I just don't see college kids across the country choosing yoga and wine over more traditional college social activities....but I could be wrong as I am now old) I visualized the movie "Animal House", and the thought of John Belushi and his crew. Try as they might, it is a long road for fraternities to shed that party image. (Toga, Toga, Toga)

I am not sure of the purpose of this post (I usually try to have some deeper meaning in my writing that could inspire the reader), but it did make me smile to think of some of the good times we lived at the Beta House. The leadership opportunities helped me learn and grow, and the active social life was just part of the tapestry that has been weaved together to make me the man I am today. The good and the bad, the wild and the all shaped me for the better.

At 41-years-old I prefer wine and cheese to cheap beer. I have been known to attend a Sunday morning yoga class with my wife. But I still hate opera! My advice to the college kids....ah heck, they don't want my advice!

Have A Great Day.



Wordjunky said...

I appreciate your comments about the Missouri SigEp chapter. It does look odd, at least at first. And there is probably a bit of exaggeration for the sake of a good story.

But I can say that SigEp has been making a major push to change the way fraternities are perceived, not just on campus but with the general public. Chapters like this one, while not the rule to be sure, are more common now than at any time since I joined in 1975 (and you would not have wanted to lay down in our basement either!).

I invite you to visit my "unofficial" SigEp blog and see what is really going on with the good - and not so good - SigEp chapters.

Thom Singer said...

thanks for the comment. I know first hand from my own fraternity that these organizations are making huge progress toward stressing leadership, etc...

I just know from talking with college kids today that they do a lot of this stuff for the "public face" and pleasing the universities and home offices of the fraternities. They still party.

I am a big fan of the Greek System as I believe that it teaches so many great things to college kids that they can't get in other clubs. The lifetime affiliation and friendships can have amazing benefits if folks understand how to utilize these networks.


Woglin said...

Wine over beer??? No way!!!
Cheers to the beer gods!