There has been a lot of news about the bad behavior of a few fraternities on a few campuses in the last several months. The examples set by those few are tarnishing the reputations of the many good men and fraternities. I would like to share my experiences to illustrate the positive side.

In the Fall of 1966 I pledged Lambda Chi Alpha at the University of Missouri. I had always intended to join a fraternity, as my father and brother did so (Theta Zi and Delta Tau Delta). I knew right away it was a smart decision because it gave me immediate friendships and a feeling of belonging to an organization that would help me assimilate in a large university.

The house at that time was in a bit of trouble due to grades, so the national fraternity placed an adviser in the house (a grad student) to make sure we followed the rules. Thus we had strict study guidelines and equally strict hazing and drinking rules. I never experienced hazing. The national fraternity in that year forbade it, and our chapter obeyed.

I was elected to office three times, always as social chairman. The house decided to make a name for itself on the campus by emphasizing grades, intramural sports and name recognition. By my senior year, we had grown from a house of 30 to one of 80, with an annex.

But nothing changed in terms of direction. Because of our improved reputation, we were able to pledge better men who had education as their foremost reason for being in school, but who also liked to have fun.

As a result of my becoming a fraternity member, I learned leadership skills that I could not have gotten anywhere else as an undergrad. Our national fraternity offered leadership programs to make us better officers and better leaders. As a result, upon graduation I obtained a job due to the way I had learned to present myself. In the various jobs I had in my career, I excelled due to the confidence that being a member of a fraternity taught me.

Most of us graduate from high school with little experience in life away from home. College can be very intimidating and it is easy to feel lost — just one person among so many others. The fraternity first gives you a home, an instant group of friends with older men that help you assimilate and learn to function in university life. They teach you how to study and have built-in tutors that have your success as foremost in their mind. Then you are integrated into leadership roles, with training. By the time you graduate, you have developed into a leader of men and have made lifetime friends.

Fraternities and sororities are major contributors toward raising money and collecting donations for the needy. Several fraternities sent men to Houston after the hurricane to help with the cleanup and rebuilding. It is a shame that the few bad fraternities make the news, while the hundreds of good ones that obey the rules don’t.

— Kerry S. McGill, now of Saint Albans, Mo., first came to Bakersfield in 1985 as a transfer with Bechtel. After completing his MBA at CSUB in 1987 he started his own business consulting firm, which handled accounting, payroll, taxes and investment management. In 2012 he retired to Missouri, where he grew up. 

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