Letters from Parents
Letter from Jody Klein-Saffran
As parents of a Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity member, we would like to share some insight into Greek life at the University of Rochester.
When our son came to us and told us that he wanted to pledge a fraternity, one of our concerns was if he had the time to be involved with Greek life, especially since he had a full academic load and was a student athlete on the Men’s Swimming and Diving Team. Fraternity life was not new to us, since his older brother was a member and officer of a fraternity on another college campus. Our son assured us that the fraternity he wanted to join would provide support for him both academically, and socially.
Initially, another concern we had was the pledging process. What we liked is that U of R will not allow first semester freshman to pledge a fraternity/sorority. Pledging or joining an organization can take a lot of time and energy. Although this is a worrisome issue for parents, your college student finds it a bonding experience and can either accept the challenge or decide it is not for them. One issue that parents should address with their student is the pledging process. How rigorous is it and will it distract from their other commitments? For us it was important that we made sure our son knew what his commitments would be and how he would be able to schedule this into his day. We were encouraged by the fact that the brothers of SigEp were academically oriented and provided support to the new members of the fraternity. The fraternity he joined has served him well on all of these accounts. The Brothers go out of their way to help each other navigate the rigorous academics of the University of Rochester. In addition, fraternity life plays a large social role at a University.
By becoming a brother of SigEp, we saw that our son was able to develop relationships with many other college students on campus—not just the students he either lived or swam with during his freshman year of school. Some of his favorite experiences his freshman and sophomore year came from getting to know the seniors in his fraternity. The more experienced students provided insight into the academic classes our son was interested in taking while at Rochester. The concept of Big/Little in the fraternities/sororities provided examples of the bond that forms early on in the process. Greek life at Rochester provides a social network that enhances the college experience.
Another beneficial aspect of fraternity/sorority life is the philanthropy projects. These projects benefit the community as well as teach organizational skills and community outreach to their members. The rewards for both the students and the community are everlasting. In addition to philanthropic work conducted by the fraternities, fraternities are dynamic organizations that often provide networking opportunities for the future opportunities. Overall, our son’s experience with fraternity life has been positive and we would recommend Greek life to other students at the University.
Letter from Kathy and Edward Hershfield
Neither of us had been involved with Greek life while in college, so we really did not know how fraternity membership would affect our son Matthew’s college experience.
From the very beginning, involvement with a fraternity provided Matt with a group of close friends, leadership opportunities, and a diverse social network. Choosing a fraternity also enabled Matt, during his freshman year, to focus on the type of organization he wanted to join and what he was looking to do outside of the classroom during his time at U of R.
Matt now is a senior and he has held many offices in his fraternity, been involved in a number of community service projects, and enjoyed many, many social events. Through his fraternity, Matt has attended national conclaves where he has met students from schools across the country, exchanged ideas, and brought new programs and projects to U of R. Being in a fraternity has enabled Matt to have a broader and richer college experience. We cannot remember a time when he did not have a fraternity meeting or other event to attend. We knew that he was not sitting in his room, but always had opportunities to be interacting with others.
We also have witnessed one additional, unexpected benefit of being a fraternity member. Matt regularly meets fellow fraternity members who are currently attending other schools or who graduated from college years or decades ago. In all instances, there is an automatic connection between them. We are certain that these relationships will benefit Matt throughout his life.
Fraternity membership is much more than we expected, and we encourage other parents to take a look at the benefits it has to offer.