Saturday, January 13, 2007

IFC President Speaks of Value of Greek Experience

GUEST COLUMN: Fraternities offer more than parties and popularity
Mattew Swafford

As spring fraternity rush approaches, I want to share and reflect upon my four years as a member of the University of Kentucky Greek community.

As a freshman, I was not concerned with opportunity; instead I was consumed with images of having fun. I thought that joining a fraternity would be the best way to maximize the fun that college-life had to offer.

Entering college, I had heard many of the preconceptions about fraternities: the booze, the girls and the popularity associated with being in a fraternity. I was ready to go to the parties, hit the keg stands and meet sorority girls.

Little did I know this was not the purpose of a fraternity, and furthermore, was not even important in my experience.

Almost four years later, I wan to share what is important: the community that I have been a part of for over four years has given me more than I could ever ask for.

As Interfraternity Council President it is my first goal to convey this message to the individuals trying to make an informed decision about joining the UK Greek community.

Throughout my experience, I have held many offices in my chapter, one of which was the president of the fraternity. Real-life experiences in the UK fraternity community - such as appropriating money for various programs, communicating with chapter members and University officials and working with people with divergent interests - have served as a springboard for future success.

Quite simply, these experiences have allowed me to sharpen my talents as I prepare to embark on life after UK.

There is no better experience to partake in, there is no better organization so engaged in individual personal development and there is no better place to apply the theoretical classroom skills in a practical setting than the fraternity community.

It is a society in which business and political decisions are made on a daily basis; it can accurately be described as the minor leagues of the professional world. I, along with thousands of others, have developed skills as an entrepreneur, an accountant, an attorney and most importantly, an upstanding member of the greater Lexington community.

I have been a part of great successes and defeats, trials and tribulations, and now I am more prepared for the challenges and consequences of the real world. All of this has been made possible by one simple decision: joining a fraternity.While fraternities have earned some of the negativity associated with their reputations, the truth in these stories is few and far between. The truth is most of the stories that circulate are just that - stories.Fraternities are eager to help with personal development, financial issues and scholastic achievement, and also offer a safe and structured social environment.

Each UK fraternity has something special to offer and I hope you give yourself an opportunity to find the best fit for you. Joining a Greek organization has been one of the best decisions I have ever made and I know it be the same for you.

Matthew Swafford is president of the Interfraternity Council.
E-mail opinions@kykernel.com.