Last week my family and I made a trip down to Pennsylvania to celibate the 100th anniversary of my fraternity, Alpha Phi Delta.
Alpha Phi Delta is an Italian American fraternity started in 1914. Until the 1960s it was exclusive to men who are at least half Italian but was opened to allow college men of any heritage to join. However we continue to celebrate that Italian American heritage that the organization was founded in.
It was an interesting trip, meeting members who range in age from 18 up to 100 (yes one member showed up who was 100 years old). As a past national president of the organization I partook in a leadership breakfast in which 17 of the 22 living past presidents ate breakfast with all of our current undergraduate chapter presidents to help share knowledge and guidance. Honestly I think I got as much out of it as they did listening how much has changed within universities and colleges over the past 20 years. The oldest national president in the room was 91 and listening to how much more has changed since his time made it a real eye opener.
One of the biggest problems they face today is the negative stereotype of college fraternities. When you think of a fraternity what do you think of? Most people today think of Animal House and the few bad eggs out there who continually get busted for hazing or criminal activities become national news. The good examples like Alpha Phi Delta are ignored.
What's even more troubling is even when an individual is caught doing something wrong, if they can in any way be linked back to a fraternal organization, it is the organization that dominates the news, not the individual who did something wrong.
Alpha Phi Delta faces that discrimination when we approach news schools seeking expansion. They don't care that we've raised tens of thousands for charities just in fund raises from our local chapters alone or that we have over 20 scholarships we give to young men and women each year. They don't want to hear that members of all age come back year after year to help guide our younger members and help assure they will become the leaders of tomorrow.
As part of our 100 year celebration Alpha Phi Delta tried to come up with a list of the members who stood out the most over the past 100 years and it was amazing hearing the accomplishments of the 32 members they finally identified. Members like myself who have successful professional lives and who have made accomplishments in local government and worked with charities in their local communities didn't even come close to reaching the level of excellence of some of our members.
Founders of universities and businesses, CEOs, governors and congressmen, inventors of technology we all use today, top figures in sports and entertainment. The committee in charge of coming up with the list had quite the challenge because fraternity men over all succeed at far higher rates in life then those who have never been involved in a fraternity.
Why am I writing this? Not to be an advertisement for Alpha Phi Delta but because like most stories in the news these days, all the facts are not coming out. People aren't hearing the positives or even the full stories, they hear what makes news. They don't want to know that most fraternities are positive not only for their members but for the universities they are connected to (fraternal members donate back to schools at a higher rate then non fraternity members) and for their local communities. In NY City alone Alpha Phi Delta even marches in the annual Columbus day parade.
So next time you hear a sensationalize headline about a pledge being injured or killed or a fraternity being expelled for drugs, remember that those stories do not represent the majority of fraternal organizations out there. There are some like Alpha Phi Delta that stand apart for good reasons.