I usually do not write about things that are not sports related, those are for rare occasions and the is somewhat off base, but after the events of the past week in regards to a group that I was involved with while I was an undergraduate student, and with things that have happened the past few months in regards to Greek life, I feel it is time for me to talk about things and set some things straight.
Greek life gets a bad rap and I have heard every ignorant assertion. Greeks are “buying friends”, they do nothing but get drunk and tear things up and generally cause trouble. Greeks are racist. Greeks are dumb. Greeks are stuck up. Greeks do not hang outside their Greek world. I have heard it all, and none of it is true, and when some Greek organization goes under, many people cheer about it like some great thing has happened for humanity. Well, it hasn’t, and I can tell you why.
When I first arrived in Commerce in the Fall of 2005, two fraternities actively recruited me. My Uncle was a member of one when he was in Commerce and the other was the largest on campus at the time. I really did not know much about what Greek life was about. I just didn’t think it was all that important and truth be told, I had changed as a person and did not feel being in a Fraternity would fit with who I wanted to be, that changed radically within the next year. My first interaction with the Gentlemen of the Kappa Alpha Order was playing them in Flag Football. We played them twice, they beat us once and we beat them once, and both times they were intense competitors, and gracious in both victory and defeat. I had class with KA’s, worked on group projects with them, and worked with them off campus.
One day while studying for Accounting, one of the best guys I ever met in Commerce named Kevin Mosher stopped what he was doing and asked me a pointed question. “Brian, why aren’t you Greek?” I then told him about some of the things I was concerned about. We dropped what we were doing and he told me that not only would being a KA make me a better guy, but I would make KA a better group. He pointed out that he respected me as a scholar, as an athlete, and ultimately as a person. That is when I started to become a prospective member for the next semester. Kevin invited me over to the KA House and started to introduce me to what Greek life was truly all about. Scholarship. You had to make your grades, and being an average student would not cut it. Philanthropy. Being a KA meant serving your fellow man. Fraternity. Being a KA meant learning to embrace differences in others but learn to love them as a brother under the colors of The Order. Leadership. Being a KA meant to lead by example in all areas of life, and finally being a Gentleman. General Robert E. Lee is the Spiritual founder of the Kappa Alpha Order. He defined being a gentleman in this way: “The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman. The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly–the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light. The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.”
Knowing that, and seeing how I was treated made me realize these were not cheap talking points. Kevin lived by what he believed in. He and I were a lot alike. Both small town guys, both Christians, both guys who loved our school and wanted to serve it, and both guys who placed a premium on honorable behavior and loyal attitudes. That entire semester that I walked into the KA house I was treated just like a brother. I was never excluded, never had an unkind word spoken to me, all I was told was that they could not wait until the next semester for me to be a brother and see me grow. The fact that a group of guys showed me such goodness and fraternal spirit really made me realize how good life can be when you are held to high standards in all aspects of life and have those you can call a brother to help you hold to them. Now, I never officially joined because I found out I could graduate that next semester and I decided to do that. When I told the guys who had been recruiting me that I was not going to be able to be a brother, their attitude toward me did not change one bit. In fact, I found the guys to be more loyal to me as a person. Only having a semester was not going to be enough to make a KA, this is not something you just sign up for, you have to earn it, and like anything worth having in life, it takes time.
Sadly, this week, the Gamma Upsilon Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order is no more. The chapter released a Newsletter this week stating:
The House, which I always make a point to go by when I am in Commerce, no longer has the letters in front, nor the sign that proudly shows where boys are being turned into Men. I would challenge those of us who were profoundly impacted by Greek life to always hold to the standards that we held ourselves to, and to make sure that Greek life at Texas A&M-Commerce is never impacted to negatively like it has been. Yes, there are parties. Yes, sometimes things happen, but that is NOT what Greek life is about.
When I interviewed Fred Woods a couple of months back, he talked about being a brother in the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the influence it had on him. He said that being in that group did so much for him, and all you have to do is look at how his life has turned out and the kind of man he is to know that being an Omega played a part in that. He learned things in conjunction with Football that taught him how to be among other people, and that is why he one of the best guys I know and have ever met.
Kevin is much the same way. He is a great Father and great Husband. He works hard and is intensely loyal to his family and friends, and does whatever it takes to be successful, and in a society like what we have today, don’t we need MORE groups that shape guys like Fred and Kevin?
So this Fall, Lion Football game will just not feel the same without the KA letters leaning against the fence on Greek Row, or the Rowdy KA’s sitting behind the Football team cheering them on. So what I say about the asset that all Greek life is to Texas A&M-Commerce is total truth.
After all, a Gentleman never tells a lie. The KA creed taught me that.