Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Disclaimer: This article is solely reflective of my experience in Delta Upsilon and is in no way meant to contradict the experiences of other individuals or represent DU in any official capacity.
When I came to campus in the fall of freshman year, I never imagined I would join a fraternity. “Bro culture” was something I had observed from afar and derided as juvenile. As my freshman year hall mates will attest, my prejudice led me to refuse to even set foot in a fraternity house for the first few weeks. I was eventually persuaded to attend parties at Phi Psi and DU but this was the extent of my involvement freshman fall.
In the spring of my freshman year I became a Party Associate (PA) and over the course of the semester and the following year I PA’d many parties at the fraternities. This is when my opinion of fraternities began to change. Back then, we were lucky to have one PA work a major party, an overwhelming task given the number of party goers. The brothers of the fraternities were the only party hosts that not only asked how I was doing or offered to bring me water or snacks but also the only ones who would actually help regulate the party. I know this may not mean a lot to many of you but it meant a lot to me that the brothers of both houses clearly cared about what happened to the party goers in their space.
In the spring of my sophomore year I was selected to be one of the PA coordinators and my role shifted primarily to one of management. Although I was not required to work directly as a PA during this time, the fraternities still requested that I be there to lend support. It is important to note that I was still not a brother and that these organizations wanted someone at their parties who was relatively well known to be especially rigorous when it came to enforcing party regulations, which was quite surprising to me. It was during this semester that several of the DU leadership asked me to consider pledging the following fall. Although I initially rebuffed them, the idea gained in appeal and in the fall of 2011 I expressed interest in joining the fraternity and was given a bid.
Despite being on campus for two years, I had no idea what to expect in regard to actually becoming a brother. It turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life. I can say with utter certainty that because of DU I will be life-long friends with people I would have never otherwise met, much less gotten to know. This may come as a surprise to readers who know me but I do not make friends or trust other people very easily. DU provided me with that opportunity and I will be forever grateful for it. My experience at Swarthmore would have been substantively different without DU, almost certainly for the negative, and I believe that a vast majority of brothers would echo this sentiment.
I fully believe the accounts related in other op-eds to be honest recollections of terrible instances but my experience with the institution of DU has differed. To share a personal failing, during a DU event last fall I made an off-hand remark that offended a guest in our house. Although I had not meant any offense, I was immediately taken to task by DU leadership, asked to apologize and informed in clear terms that this type of behavior was not acceptable for a DU brother. I cannot think of single instance in my life where a friend had said such a thing to me and had it resonate, much less change behavior. DU’s motto is “Justice, Our Foundation” and its slogan is “Building Better Men”. Both of these were demonstrated here and in other incidents that I am aware of. Brothers, like all Swatties, are not perfect and we sometimes do things that we shouldn’t.
To this end, I fully support the creation and maintenance of enhanced structures of accountability, while maintaining the rights to privacy that all students enjoy. I love my brothers in DU and will support them as much as I possibly can. That said, love for them does not mean I will cover up their mistakes or excuse their transgressions. I truly believe that the principles and foundations of DU are commensurate with those of Swarthmore College and its student body. It is, however, the duty of my brothers and I to demonstrate this through our conduct and to take corrective measures if we fail.
Through my positions as an RA and PA, the campus has entrusted me to look out for it as a fellow student. If I believed that DU or any other organization were a credible threat to it, I would lead the charge for its abolition. I do not believe this to be the case and I therefore ask the community to help us become better men, not clamor for our abolition.
Op-ed submitted by David F. Hill, IV ’13