Not Just a Party Scene

Information! This opinion piece comments on the current FSL housing situation at Rollins College, covered here.

Considering the recent changes in Greek life on campus, Phi Delta Theta alumnus advocates for its preservation.

Talk about things happening in threes…

First, two “strangers” walk up to me at this year’s Rollins reunion and lavish praise on me for what I did as the Chapter Advisory Board Chairman for Rollins’ Phi Delta Theta Chapter over a six year period. I was so touched to be remembered. Too bad I can’t remember their names.
Next, I read “The Beginning of The End” in the April 4, 2013 issue of The Sandspur with the reminder that Phi Delta Theta had been removed from campus housing.

Finally, I logged on today to find an e-mail from the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity headquarters in Miami, Ohio informing me of a national survey being conducted by a national research and consulting firm. I couldn’t help but notice the Fraternity slogan, “Become The Greatest Version of Yourself.” If I were able to tell you the fraternity’s secret slogan, even the harshest fraternity critic would find it at least as high-minded, if not more so.

I see both sides of the Greek debate. As a former Rollins Phi Delta Theta chapter president and son of a Delta Phi National Secretary and lay expert on fraternal organizations, I once pulled an all-nighter to write a housing proposal (the first year it was required of all Greek letter organizations) required to justify our continued use of preferred housing (ie. Mayflower Hall). That proposal was the first to be approved by Dean Campbell.

As a Graduate Instructor, I see too much emphasis on partying (and all that entails) and not enough emphasis on studying, volunteering, etcetera, although I’m amazed at how much improvement Rollins has made in both of those areas over the 39 years that I’ve been a Rollins volunteer. The next time you see President Lewis Duncan walking across the campus, ask him which student really led the humanitarian charge at Rollins. He’ll tell you, without hesitation, exactly what he told me in his office recently. It was Crosby Scholar Tessie Swope ‘08.

Would you like to know where I met Tessie Swope before I personally raised $52,700 for her Five Stones Project at the Annie Russell benefit I surprised her (and Rebeca Montaner) with? At the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity chapter meeting where Tessie had come to ask for funds for her organization. That’s right. The thousands of volunteer hours and tens of thousands of dollars never would have happened had Tessie Swope not made a fundraising presentation at the Rollins Phi Delta Theta Fraternity house. That’s where Tessie and I met. I was so inspired by the meeting that I penned a “My Word” column that was published in The Orlando Sentinel. I recently put Tessie in touch with world-famous author Jodi Picoult in hopes that she could help Tessie Swope turn a 1500+ page memoir into a finished product.

I never would have learned as much at Rollins had I not had the superior single room of Mayflower Hall. Independents are at a disadvantage with roommate disruptions that are more distracting to a college’s educational mission than has been previously reported!

Many independents make fraternity and sorority partiers look like novices. The reason those incidents go unreported is because independents do not indulge under the auspices of a named organization. Independents do not live with “bullseyes” on their backs. They can raise hell quietly. But is that fair?

During my six years with my Phi Delta Theta chapter at Rollins, I remember feeling sorry for the students having to live with such onerous regulations, many of which my generation never had to deal with. I remember thinking that they’d really taken a lot of the fun out of this. This is coming from someone so stable, strait-laced, principled, and full of character that my fraternity brothers considered me the best person to represent the organization. I had a blast at Rollins without having to overindulge… ever.

Many top colleges around the country have asked the age-old question… should Greek Letter organizations be abolished? And each administration has come against the same brick wall.

Alumni will not stand for it. And they help pay the bills and donate those new buildings that everyone likes so much.

It’s much better to attack root causes than resort to sweeping bans that tar everyone… innocent and guilty alike… with the same feathers.

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