In 1994, I was a member of a fraternity at Syracuse University.
It was one of the more popular fraternities on campus. If I could send a text message back to my college self, I would probably suggest not check-marking “popularity” as a top criteria for choosing essentially your friends and lifestyle at college.
My time as a “frat guy” existed all of two semesters of living in “the house” (as I would imagine most frat guys refer to their beer-soaked-covered-splashed-with-bleach domain that they inhabited more than could really call a home).
It was a unique time for our fraternity because there was a stated goal to bring good guys into the house. Many of the older guys in the house were either freeloaders, drug users (or petty traffickers), or just downright not nice people.
I was 19, I was impressionable and–while it’s true that many of the aforementioned attributes of senior guys in “the house” were concealed upon first review–I probably would have selected the house anyway. It was, in fact, not my first choice, but as impressionable youth goes many of my friends were taking this route so I took it to.
For one year, I lived in this house and beyond all the poor traits and poor grades that were accumulated, perhaps the worse part about it was I took a year off from defining my person, my voice. Devoid of proper role models and a culture of learning–as many college freshmen, sophomores find–thank goodness I had a scholarship so my parents didn’t foot the bill of precisely….what was I doing?
This is not denigration of fraternities mind you. Mine just didn’t even have a smidge of the civic, charitable or aspirational goals that many of the better ones have; just wasn’t one of them.
In my sophomore year at school, my best education came in subjects like NBA Live, late night trysts, curing hangovers and “how to manage to get to class late though you knew you had two hours to get there.”
There was an incident involving a friend getting shot with a bb gun in the ear that resulted in a full-on house-vs.-house melee and the ultimate final event of livestock being released in the house as a prank. This was not higher education; it was high (pathetic or naive) comedy.
That last incident drew the attention of both the local firehouse–there is still a picture floating around of a pig being removed from the house by a fully-clad fireman–and the school board and our nice little den of inequities was now homeless; kicked off campus.
Probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Thankfully.
While I still had my friends, now with more personal space and a found rejection for the past culture, with teachers who provided the direction–Professor Bob Lissit bless your heart–I started to discover that getting funded to learn and take advantage of a vast amount of resources all within walking distance was better–mostly better–than Bloody Mary’s and breakfast at noon.
The next two college semesters–split out over two years because of two internships at ABC News–allowed me to thrive and understand who I wanted to be. It didn’t happen over night and many bad habits had to be undone.
The right role models, the understanding and satisfaction that comes with accomplishment is really the ultimate college experience.
Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream will likely both start this evening when the New York Red Bulls square off with Philadelphia Union needing a win to insure just a playoff spot–not homefield, not first in the East.
After Saturday’s game, Agudelo issued this tweet–a seemingly innocuous tweet except for the fact that the Red Bulls had just lost a critical match on the road to Sporting KC.
For months, Tim Ream has been carrying himself poorly, struggling to find himself after his confidence has been shattered by defensive mishaps this year for club and country.
Agudelo has just six goals on the campaign; Ream has probably given up about six goals through poor fundamentals.
Their role models: a red card-carrying Thierry Henry who avoided early season cross-country road trips and MLS 2011 Chief Pariah Rafa Marquez–who Ream once spoke quite highly of in a blog for a media outlet. Ouch.
For the sake of club, league and country, but most importantly Agudelo and Ream–win or lose this evening–they need to burn that fraternity house down in New York in a hurry.
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