After everything I had experience growing up in Great Neck, Long Island, I was thrilled to finally arrive onto the campus of the University of Rochester with 5,000 other kids of various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. There was a Greek life on the U of R campus, but I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. From what I had heard and seen in the movies, it was everything I hated about Great Neck. A group of males sitting around drinking beer and watching football, figuring out how to get as far as they can with every hot girl on campus… no thank you. I stayed away from Greek life and didn’t even want to go the parties.
At the beginning of my Sophomore year, however, I was hanging out with Kara and Katy in their dorm room, and they were talking about a fraternity on campus called Delta Upsilon. They suggested that I might like it and that I should really go check it out. At first I flat out refused, and explained that I wanted nothing to do with Greek life. They said that they understood, but that I should at least just go see it because this one was different. Aside from the fact that I had a major crush on both Kara and Katy and would have done pretty much anything they said I should do, they knew me and they were friends. If they were saying that I would like it maybe it was worth checking out.
I attended a DU rush party, and as I walked through the door I started to recognize a few guys that I had met during my Freshman year of college, and that I thought highly of. “What are you doing here?” I kept asking each one. “I’m a brother here…” was the answer I got. I quickly realized why Kara and Katy had suggested that I check it out. I continued to attend the rush parties and loved it. It was a non-hazing fraternity, and there was no pressure to drink. It was just a group of 50 to 60 cool guys that made up this fraternity. It seemed too good to be true!
It took some convincing to get my parents to agree, and they had to come up to Rochester to see it for themselves. Thankfully, they agreed to let me join. You had to maintain a certain GPA to be in good standing, and this was finally my chance to have a large group of guy friends… something I had really never had in my life. So at the beginning of my second semester, sophomore year, I was initiated into the NU Class of Delta Upsilon fraternity at the University of Rochester and was elected President of my class. Most of the other brothers in NU class were freshman, but it really didn’t matter.
I absolutely loved being part of DU and I learned a lot from my brothers. It felt so great to be accepted… by these cool guys. It was a real validation of who I was and further built up my confidence that I could achieve whatever I wanted given the right set of circumstances. It was also amazing to know that there were so many other guys that weren’t that different than I was. Not in all cases of course, but these guys had emotions and weren’t afraid to talk about them. Of course we had parties, and there was a lot of drinking, but I never once felt pressured to drink, or that I was any less of a man for any reason at all. In fact, I felt respected, and appreciated for who I was and for what I brought to the table. It was great to be around guy humor, to have a group of guys to travel with, to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Montreal… and to have a sounding board for whatever I wanted. When my relationship with Claire went south, being part of DU was a major source of confidence and allowed me to make the right decision without any fear of being alone.
Still, for some reason, there was a limit to how integrated I would become. I’m not sure if that was me keeping a certain safe distance, or if it was them, but for some reason, there would always be a limit to my friendships with the brothers at DU. There were a couple of guys that I really got along with and considered good friends, but after school I really didn’t keep in close contact with anyone. I wasn’t invited to anyone’s wedding, and I didn’t invite any of them to mine. Why? I really don’t know the answer. Maybe to a certain degree, I would always be a little different, and therefore an outsider. But joining DU was one of the best decisions I made.