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Column: Beer, beef jerky and brotherhood

Hazing. Brotherhood. Alcohol. Bonding. Service. Athletics. Parties, Parties, Parties. Friends. Ritual. Commitment. Probation. Love. Fading away. These are words and stereotypes that have been used around campus to classify fraternity life at Duke. But it's apparent that some of these terms are used less often, while others dominate public sentiment. These classifications, however, are by no means a complete and accurate representation of fraternities and the greek community.

I find it laughable to hear the new rumors about which fraternity is considering dissolution or about Larry Moneta's divine plan to rid Duke of any fun. I find it hilarious to read and hear the comments about how fraternities on campus think they're so cool because they are able to throw awesome parties, get lots of women and get rowdy. But while I find such descriptions amusing, I also see their inaccuracies; I doubt any member of a fraternal organization would ever classify his experience in a fraternity in such a way.

When I was a freshman, wondering about whether to participate in the Inter Fraternity Council recruitment process I admit I had my reservations. How could I, a lowly freshman, live up to the high ideals and standards of getting wasted every weekend and hooking up with every girl I could get my hands on? Deciding to push through this social barrier was the best decision I've made here and probably in my life. I can't explain how being a member of my fraternity has impacted me.

During the past two and a half years I have developed relationships founded upon trust, friendship, commitment and brotherhood. These words are vague, but any member of a fraternal organization holds these ideals true to his heart. Certain members of former Sigma Alpha Epsilon proclaimed that being disaffiliated from nationals puts more responsibility on the individual rather than the fraternity. Is that a good thing? I do not view having to look out for the welfare of my brothers and my fraternity as a burdensome responsibility; rather, I take on this duty willingly. What makes a brotherhood thrive is that every member depends and relies on every other brother, through good times and bad. The emotional and psychological bonds created through living together, working together, playing sports together partying together, and simply growing together are things that will be a fundamental part of me long after I leave Duke.

Last summer, a brother of mine lost his sister in a car accident. Being home and without his usual support network made it difficult for him to cope. His fraternity brothers , scattered around the country, instantly dropped their commitments to come lend support. Such a response wasn't surprising, for it depicted the commitments and awesome responsibilities that each brother takes on when building the bonds of brotherhood.

It's true, fraternities throw some great parties and are a vital aspect of the social scene at Duke. But we're involved in a lot more at this school than what is regularly publicized. Fraternities at Duke thrive because we engage in community service activities, participate and succeed in intramural sports, perform well in class because we're forced to properly manage our time and commitments and hold elite leadership positions across campus, from the owners of Devil's Delivery Service to last year's Duke Student Government President to the Head Line Monitor.

It needs to be said that former SAE and former Kappa Sigma are no longer IFC fraternities; they are no longer members of something bigger than themselves; they are no longer part of the greek community that will thrive at this school for a long time to come. It has been proclaimed that they throw amazing offcampus parties, and I applaud them for that. But this makes them merely social clubs. Without the responsibilities of caring for, depending upon and loving each brother, no organization can truly call itself a fraternity.

Whether the growing trend is fraternities dissolving and moving offcampus, my answer is an emphatic "No." It is false that more fraternities getting in severe trouble and considering dissolution. Fraternities have been here for over 100 years and they will thrive and prosper, long after Nan and Larry's time at Duke is over, because brothers love being members of their respective fraternities and love assuming the responsibilities that make them part of a true brotherhood.


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