By Lucy Bowers | Contributor
Headlines perpetuate the stereotype many people have about what fraternities are, and our campus is not immune to those stereotypes. Baylor fraternities have not had very good press in the past two years, between Title IX allegations and the “Cinco de Drinko” party last spring.
There is potential to change this narrative at Baylor, but it has to start from within. And it has to begin with unity.
As a member of Greek life myself, I see that many members of Baylor fraternities defy these stereotypes by rising above as leaders, but not everyone sees that. I have met countless individuals who seek out intentional conversation and demonstrate a level of respect and maturity not often associated with fraternity brothers.
One of those people is Memphis sophomore Cole Harrison, a member of Zeta Zigga Zamma. Harrison started the Baylor Brothers-in-Arms coalition this semester with the ultimate goal of uniting the men of Baylor fraternities and men’s organizations. The group hosted its first event in March, participating in community service at World Hunger Relief.
Harrison recognized that the only way to generate change in a community, in this case among Baylor men, is to engage people in meaningful relationships. I asked him about his thoughts on the stereotypes and ideas associated with fraternities, since they make up a large majority of the groups in Brothers-in-Arms.
“It’s going to take some people getting some skin in the game and realizing there’s so much more to people, to life and community and to serving God if we can work together. It takes a couple guys stepping up around the country, around wherever,” Harrison said.
Brothers-in-Arms has a strong emphasis on building bridges within the Baylor community. As Harrison said, unity is the only way anything can truly change.
Harrison’s friend and fellow Brother-in-Arms, The Woodlands sophomore Patrick Kelly, is a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Both Kelly and Harrison noticed a disconnect in friendships after rushing.
“[There’s] some pride that we get or some misdirection we’re fed once we’re in a group that you can’t be friends with them anymore. There’s a discontinuity in the relationship that really doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Kelly said. “I’m not saying that the separate fraternities are bad by any means. I think it’s natural, but it’s the relationships that kind of stop because of letters that’s just weird.”
It is time for the men of Baylor to break down these walls. If fraternity brothers can uplift each other and build relationships deeper than just the “good ol’ days,” the culture within fraternities could be so much more positive.
I left my conversation with Kelly and Harrison uplifted and encouraged. It was apparent to me from the second we sat down that these men were going to change the world. That sounds dramatic. Still, I am convinced they are going to change the world. Brothers-in-Arms is just one example of the positive attributes fraternities can add to our campus, rather than take away.
Changing the narrative surrounding fraternities is going to take time, and perhaps will never fully change. But it has to start somewhere, so why not here?
Lucy Bowers is a freshman journalism major from Irvine, Calif.