September 19, 2012 by Stephen Bennett
Guest blogger: Nick Hampson, a fraternity President and senior from New Jersey, writes about the value of leadership in fraternity life.
I am a proud member of the Greek community on campus. My decision to join my chapter was one of the most formative of my college experience. This is becoming clearer and clearer to me as I experience the “I’m a senior, I’m going to miss this” moments more and more. What makes me appreciate the bonds I’ve formed through my fraternity is that all these moments seem to be centered on the people and experiences I have been afforded since becoming a brother.
As I see it, you join a fraternity for one basic overarching reason: to enhance your college experience in as many ways as possible. With this in mind, there are two central benefits I see in being part of a brotherhood. These two benefits are the quality of people you surround yourself with that encourage you to reach your full potential, and the support network you have in your brothers when hard times come. Allow me to elaborate.
When I was a kid my dad refused to buy a basketball hoop for our driveway. No matter how many times I put it on my Christmas list or begged him to get even the cheapest one at Sports Authority, he wouldn’t budge. Instead, since the time I was old enough to be able to hoist the ball up to the rim on a regulation 10-foot hoop, he insisted that I go up to the courts a few minutes away from my house and play there. For a while I thought he was just stingy. But part way through high school I began to realize that the reason I could hold my own in any style of a game, be it the packed YMCA gym in urban Hackensack, NJ, or the pristine high school gymnasium of Ramapo High School as the varsity captain of my team, was because I had been able to identify myself as a player and improve by playing against players who were always – until a certain point – better than me up at the Berdan Grove courts. I hadn’t just stayed home in the driveway shooting hoops by myself. I see joining a fraternity the same way. You are making that commitment to “play ball” with men who will push you to be better and achieve that ideal that you want to move towards. If you surround yourself with men who take the right things seriously and strive to live meaningful, successful lives, it will rub off on you and you’ll be better for it. This also means that your selection of organization is of the utmost importance. Finding a chapter that lines up with the values you want to hold yourself to is not always easy, but it will make your experience that much more rewarding. Different fits are best for different people and identifying where it is you’re the most comfortable, while still feeling that you’re pushing yourself to be a better man, is where you should join.
It would be all well and good if we could put these huge expectations on ourselves, challenge ourselves, and simply succeed every time. The truth is, though, to my understanding, that is not how life works and certainly not how college works. There are times when you’ll mess up, times when you’ll lose confidence, and occasionally in those times, life will send you something else to kick you in the teeth. I don’t know about you, but when I had times like those in high school, I had family and friends who knew how to get me back in the swing of things. When you’re a long way from home, those days can be just a little darker and those moods can last just a little bit longer without the right people around you. I can almost guarantee you that there will be something that will happen over these next four years that you won’t see coming and that will hit you like a ton of bricks. That group of friends – who by the very nature of their relation to you, as brothers, have promised their full support to you in any way necessary – cannot take that hardship from you, but they surely can help you weather the storm. I’ve had my ton-of-bricks moment, hopefully the only one, and I’m glad I had the people I did around me to see me through it.
Join a fraternity because you’re ready to make a commitment to yourself and a connection to those around you. When it’s all said and done, you’ll be glad you did.