Those Darn Fraternity Boys

Thomas Gallagher


When I was young, I loved trucks. I loved everything about them: the size, the sounds, the intimidating look. I loved trucks so much that my eight-year-old self was dead set on one day becoming a truck driver.

Today, my interests have expanded and changed with my ex­periences and age. I now think the coolest job in the world is Andy Rooney’s role on CBS’s 60 Minutes. Rooney has a two to three minute segment at the end of most broadcasts in which he goes on a rant about something he has recently encountered that annoys him. That, in a nutshell, is my dream job.

I sit around and rant to myself about things I see that bother me almost every day. You could say, as most of my friends do, that I’m a very judgmental person. For instance, I hate when people don’t hold the door for the person behind them.

I detest those “gentlemen” who forget to remove their hats upon entering a building. I think Campus Safety parking tickets on top of a $50,000 plus tuition is absurd. But mainly, I think reading articles from authors who have no knowledge of the very subjects they set out to degrade is just downright … silly.

I’m a 5’10”, heterosexual, skinny white male born into a mid­dle class family from suburban Philadelphia, where I attended an all-male and almost all-white prepatory school.

Some people might say I’m the very embodiment of privilege. I like to say there’s not too much privilege in being a part of the most generic and boring population in the country, especially when it comes to applying to college. But I can also be char­acterized as a “frat boy.” I have consumed Keystone Light, frol­icked around campus in my Sperry Topsider boat shoes and, on occasion, dawned a J. Crew button down shirt.

I have paid to have friends through chapter dues (although even I’m not sure exactly where that money goes since Buildings and Grounds won’t fix the driveway to my fraternity house). I have hung out with the bros. And I know no one outside of Greek Life has laughed ever or would ever laugh at the questions “which define the core of classes like Challenge of Modernity and Legacies of the Ancient World.”

But my Greek Life organization has also given me opportu­nities to test my leadership skills, allowed me to discover parts of myself I didn’t know existed before and, although this may be shocking to some, inspired scholarly discussions between myself, a past student body Vice President, the Editor-in-Chief of the Maroon-News and members of the Student Conduct Board, all of whom were members of Greek Life. These dis­cussions occured within the confines of my segregated, elitist fraternity house.

I have witnessed brothers in the Greek Life system devote themselves selflessly to a dying brother. I have witnessed non- Greek Life members and Greek Life members working together to bring some of the most entertaining acts and performances to Colgate’s campus. I have even seen a member of Greek Life rise above the horrid “drinking and hooking up” culture that lurks within those fraternity houses and score a 39 on the MCAT! A 39! Do you know how impressive that is? Pretty damn impres­sive. I have also made a handful of lifelong friends that I would go to the end of the world for if they ever needed me. A lot of them are white.

But some are also Black, Asian and Jewish. A lot of them are straight. But some are also gay, bisexual or uncertain. Some of them are very rich and some of them are on financial aid.

They all possess some of the greatest character and moral­ity I have ever encountered and are people that, without our Greek Life connection, I may never have met during my time at Colgate and would be much worse off without.

Aside from all that, I’m actually not Greek Life’s biggest pro­ponent. In fact, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown out of the “frat boy” mentality and I can recognize both the strengths and the weaknesses (of which there are many) of Greek Life. But this is college. There are literally hundreds of organizations and groups that a person can join, all of which provide different opportuni­ties for different people with different interests. And if one par­ticular group or organization doesn’t align with your interests or chooses not to include you, don’t cry sour grapes over it and bar­rage the Maroon-News with articles about it. Go find something else that you can enjoy. Being a part of one specific group, regard­less of the stereotypes surrounding it, doesn’t mean you should be judged for those stereotypes. If that were the case, I think Dr. Martin Luther King might have a few words for you.

Contact Thomas Gallagher at [email protected].