I did not know what I was getting in to. In sharp contrast to many of the things I have done with my life, there was no plan. No course of action. There was no chess match in my mind, where one facilitates a plan and then, based on the anticipated reactions of the parties involved, accomplishes a goal.
It, however, turned out to be one of the most important decisions of my college career.
I did not know it at the time, but from the day I decided to pledge Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity my life would never be the same.
Greek life is not for everyone. This is not a column aimed at getting people to join. But, since this is The Spectrum's Greek Issue, and I am one of a few editors on staff that has lived the experience, it's possibly the best forum to explain some of the myths and truths about being in a Greek organization.
As I said, I did not plan to join a fraternity in college, it just sort of happened. I didn't need friends - I have always lived in Buffalo, and as long as you don't smell and you know your sports, it's easy to accumulate friends around here. I didn't need an extracurricular activity. As an engineering major, I don't need my fraternity status to help me get a job, although perhaps it will come in handy.
No, my decision to join Alpha Sigma Phi was made during a 10-second conversation at Bert's. It went something like this:
Buckley (a friend of mine at the time who I met through another friend and had calculus with): Yo, we're starting a fraternity, we're going to have a house next year, you want to join?
Me: Uh, ok.
That was pretty much it. The next week I met a few of the other guys, one gave me tips on how to kick mad game, and I later found out that these tips did not work. No matter, they seemed like a cool group, my uncle was in a fraternity, why not keep the tradition alive?
At the time I worked at Great Skate. My fraternity rolled in during one of my shifts, 20-strong. I was selling some beer league hockey player real cheap elbow pads. I turned around, and there they were with a bid. I signed it, officially accepting my invitation to pledge.
The experience temporarily made me look cool in front of a very attractive girl who worked at Great Skate. It didn't work out. She only went out with me to meet other guys in the fraternity. Then, when I took her to the semi-formal at the end of the year (I was officially a brother), she was more interested in another brother's date! This began my long, painful history of bringing dates to fraternity semi-formals.
But in this story I skipped over the best part ... pledging.
Everyone wants to know about pledging. What did you have to do? What was the worst thing? The best thing? Anything gross? What was it like?
We learned the history of the fraternity, learned about the brothers and learned about each other. We spent a lot of time together. We were not hazed, and our schoolwork always came first. We were not taken out to the woods, made to eat anything gross, or forced into manual labor.
Compared to what my uncle had to do when he pledged, we had it easy. You can't get away with anything any more. It's like Dean Wormer from Animal House now rules the world.
Besides my experiences at semi-formals (I have lost my date at every semi-formal I've ever been to), I cannot say enough about the difference Alpha Sigma Phi has made in my life. One of my brother's helped me get a job at M&T Bank. I don't work there anymore, mainly because of the impact of another brother.
Adam Carney was the sports editor at The Spectrum when he pledged. He asked me to write for him and helped mold me into a good sports writer. From there it took off. I now write for the Associated Press and the Buffalo Sports Report as well as working as being the sports editor here. I see any game I want for free, eat free food, and take sweet road trips. I love my life, but I would not have it had I not joined Alpha Sigma Phi.
So you can call it a fraternity success story, if you will; don't be fooled, it doesn't work out for everyone. There are difficult moments to go along with all the positive stuff. There is, however, one thing I can promise you.
It never goes according to plan.