The Fraternity Paradox

They are often, as recently as this week, in the news, and it is seldom for something good.  The houses where they reside will bring any self respecting parent or, for that matter, adult, to their knees.  Reputations for partying and acting stupid macho prevail.  But I am here to tell you that there is another side to fraternities that you probably do not, but certainly should know.

This past week, our family found ourselves, yet again, in crisis.  Everyone is safe and things are more under control than a week ago, but my hashtag for the foreseeable future: #gonnabeabumpyride remains.  Our world flipped upside down, sideways and backward…and this time it has nothing to do with a certain transgender kid living in my house.

The details are not necessary and while it is not a “secret” right now the story is complicated and raw and personal.  What is, however, available for public consumption and discussion: the behavior of a group of fraternity brothers who have, quite literally, blown me away with their concern, kindness, empathy and respect.  These are young men who, to a person, I would be proud to call my own.


Yes, these boys party.  Yes, they stay up late and often, but not always, look ugly the next day.  And yes, they talk trash, swear and fart with abandon.  Their pledge names, which morph through the years, stay with them…for life.  BUT: they study hard, are philanthropic (in this case breast cancer research and Autism Speaks) and will do anything, absolutely anything, for a brother and, I have learned, his family.

I had been told of the power of the fraternal order, but, admittedly, didn’t think it could possibly be so fierce.  The maturity, compassion and life experience of a group of 18-22 year olds was, to me, underdeveloped and ultimately incapable of acting like kind, articulate and caring men.  Wrong.  And wow.

Harrison sent his brothers a beautifully raw and honest email telling his story.  At the end he gave my number for anyone who wanted to talk  (and, I might add, he said I was “super chill”, just sayin’).  Within moments of his hitting the send button, my phone blew up with texts.  And not trite, obligatory texts, either.  These were long, thoughtful notes all of which told me how much they love (yes, they used that word) Harrison and their willingness, no, desire, to do anything possible to lend support.  As the text notifications rang out I had goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes.  He, and we, are blessed.

In his email, Harrison referred to his favorite quote by Ernest Howard Crosby.  I neither knew the quote or of the power that its words hold for him, but I know it now.  Amazing what one can learn from a crisis.

NO one could tell me where my Soul might be.
I searched for God, but God eluded me.
I sought my Brother out, and found all three.



3 thoughts on “The Fraternity Paradox

  1. Julie, Fraternities/Sororities have, over the years, gotten a bad rap. I am proud to be a KKG even though their national reputation was such that I would never have been admitted in any other chapter due to my religion. But, the Gamma Iota Chapter was inclusive and the sisterhood has been a source of strength and friendship for over 40 years. When I need help I still turn to my “sister” who, without question, drops everything and flies out to be here for me and I would do the same.

    I am sorry to hear that Harrison is having “issues” (I think I understood that from your email). Whatever the bumpy road may be, I have faith that the incredible support system that you and your family have will carry him through. Although we have not been in touch since you moved out of the “neighborhood”, you are in my thoughts and I stand ready to do anything I can. PLEASE let me know whatever I can do or if we can just meet for a coffee/drink etc.

    You have my friendship and my love.

  2. You are all much in my thoughts. Please let me know if there’s anything you need or anything I can do to help. Harrison has a special place in my heart.

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