To find out there are Greek houses, and a Greek life, at SUNY Fredonia was pretty exciting for me. It’s such an American college concept, and I was dying to know more about Greek life and living in a sorority or fraternity. Although it’s not exactly how it’s portrayed in cinemas, as I soon found out after talking to Benji Soto and Brandon Washburn, who are active members in one of SUNY Fredonia’s fraternities. Both boys are juniors, and were so funny and entertaining to talk to. They filled me in on everything I’ve wanted to know about going Greek, and definitely cleared up a lot of misconceptions surrounding fraternities, as you’ll find out below!
What’s the name of your fraternity?
Benji: Delta Chi.
There’s another fraternity on campus, as well as three sororities, are you affiliated with them at all or socialise with these Greek groups?
Benji: We’re affiliated by Greek life.
Brandon: We mix with the sororities a lot, like we do fundraising events and community service events with them. Raising money for the community, things like that.
Benji: Not so much with the guys though, that’s what we’re working on now, trying to hang out with them more and do things together. So it’s not just like we’re always competing.
Brandon: So there’s less of a rivalry type thing.
Benji: We have a huge rivalry with them!
How many Frat houses and members does Delta Chi have?
Benji: 36 guys are currently active members, but there are actually 400 guys graduated from Fredonia.
So once you’re a Delta Chi, you’re a brother for life?
Benji: Yeah, Delta Chi was established here in Fredonia in 1990, but overall in the U.S. we were established in 1890.
Brandon: We’re established all over America, in lots of schools. There’s even some in Canada.
Benji: And my friend wants to start one in Australia, but I don’t think he’s going to do it.
How did you become part of Delta Chi, and why?
Benji looks to Brandon and answers with a grin.
Benji: How do we answer that? You can go first if you want.
Brandon: We rushed together, in recruitment week, which is when the fraternity puts on events and you get to learn what they’re all about, the connections behind it, the social aspect of it, how much money they raise for the community, and all the other things they do.
Benji slides his business card over to me from across the table.
Brandon: Oh yeah, Benji is head of recruitment right now, so this is his card for recruitment week.
Benji: [Winking] And now you have my number.
Brandon: [Laughing] By the end of the week we pick who we think could bring something to the table, be really successful, and fit in with the fraternity. And after you that you give them bids, and they can either accept or decline your bid.
Benji: A bid is like our approval.
Do you do background checks on your new recruits?
Brandon: Yeah Facebook.
Benji: We use Facebook all the time!
Brandon: We run very similar to a business.
Benji: People pay dues, like a business club. Every semester you pay dues to stay active or inactive, but that’s mainly to over insurance. There is like a huge liability on us, for insurance for the school, because there’s always a chance we could get hurt.
Brandon: We have fun.
Obviously some stories behind that statement, after laughing about it the boys realise they still haven’t actually answered my original question, why join Delta Chi?
Benji: Alright, so we knew a bunch of people, my roommate in freshman year joined, then he introduced me to those people. So I kind of knew everyone in the Frat, but not on a ‘brother’ level. Because when you join you get to know everyone as your brother. Then one day we were just hanging out with them, we had a really good time, and then next thing we’re like hey lets do it next semester, and then we rushed.
Brandon: For me it was a little different. I went to rush week freshman year, and I connected with the guys a lot, but I didn’t know much about fraternities, so I rejected the invitation. But then when I went back like a year and a half later I connected with a different group of guys, and I realised we were the same type of people, I fitted in with them and clicked. We all had similar goals in becoming successful, so that definitely stood out to me, and that’s why I rushed again.
What involvement does Delta Chi have with the community and SUNY Fredonia?
Benji: Well, according to like 10 minutes ago, we actually just broke a record.
Brandon: We just broke SUNY Fredonia record for most SUNY community service hours in a year, ever. It was 1,420 hours.
Benji: We do a lot of good things. We do like an Easter egg hunt for children.
Brandon: We did a Miss Delta Chi pageant, we donate to charities, we did a can drive the other day and got over 10, 000 cans.
Benji: We’ve done a PlayStation 4 raffle.
Brandon: We also have this thing over Christmas, Miracle on Main, some of the guys dress up as Santa and elves, have workstations and face painting.
Benji: It’s fun, like the kids love it.
What do you think of when you watch Hollywood movies and how fraternities are represented to the public?
Benji: It’s very misleading. They’re only showing half of it.
Brandon: It’s accurate to some extent, but there’s so much more to it.
Benji: They only show like that side (the party side) rather than the ‘real’ side of it.
Brandon: We pride ourselves on a ‘work hard, play hard’ basis, where we have our fun, but at the same time we run our fraternity like a business and we do more for the community than anybody else. We also have the connections! We have a lot of prominent alumni in really good places.
Benji: You will love this, you know Ashton Kutcher? He’s a Delta Chi!
Brandon: So is Kevin Costner!
What are common misconceptions about Frat houses?
Benji: That we drink a lot.
Brandon: Honestly people just think that we’re all about partying, and there’s so much more to it. Some people think we treat girls badly, but we pride ourselves on being gentlemen. We were just interview by The Leader (SUNY Fredonia’s newspaper) about our presentation and constant gentleman actions.
The article ‘Gentleman of Delta Chi’ was written by my friend Alexis Fores, and you can view the article on her college fashion blog here!
Benji: That was so nice of her to interview us, that was for her Capstone!
What will you miss most about living in a fraternity house?
Brandon: Post-frat depression!
Benji: Yes that’s a thing, and it’s bad! You’re here for so long, always surrounded by so many guys, and also the other organisations that you work with. So everyone in Greek life is really tight, and then you go out in the ‘real’ world and you no longer have that network you’re always surrounded by. You no longer have that lifestyle where every week you have something in your schedule, and always having something to do.
Brandon: It’s basically the lifestyle is really upbeat and exciting, we always have things scheduled, whether it be community service, social events, whatever it is, and then once you go into the real world and you’re working a 9-5, it’s a little different.
Benji: We know guys who get really sad after they graduate.
Brandon: But at the same time we have other guys who are like ‘dude it’s so much better in the real world!’
Do you have any Delta Chi reunions coming up?
Benji: Yeah for Fred Fest!
Brandon: We have a lot of people coming back this weekend.
Lastly, what has been the most interesting experience, good or bad, being in a fraternity?
Benji: The most interesting has been wake up calls for community service hours.
Brandon: It sucks waking up for them, but once you’re there you have a good time. One time Benji didn’t wake up for one, so I went into his room and put shaving cream all over him! Now that’s a fraternity experience!
Keep reading for some Australian coverage of SUNY Fredonia’s Fred Fest this weekend, as well as Part 3 in my on going chocolate challenge…