What I Love About Kenyon Greek Life
If you had told 18-year-old me that I was going to join a fraternity, I would have laughed at you. I’m from Missouri, and in Missouri, frats are scarily large, exclusive things that hurt people: not my thing. At Kenyon, the vibe you get from Greek life is different from big state schools. Here, I'm a Phi Kap (Phi Kappa Sigma), and that identity has become one that I am surprisingly proud of. I joined after attending only one rush event. I was very close friends with the president, and I figured I could see what it was all about before the part came where I owed someone money.
When you think of frats, you think of parties. That’s part of it, but my favorite things we do are the wholesome, brotherhood-type things. Particularly, I like making family dinners with the boys. My brother and fellow senior Lucas Neville intends to go into the culinary industry after Kenyon and is a very good cook. I play sous chef, and together, we make a mostly functional team.
One issue we run into is not budgeting enough for the ideas we come up with. Once, Lucas and I were at Kroger with $75 to make a meal for 17 people. As a Chinese area studies concentrator, Lucas was determined to make Chinese food for dinner: specifically, dumplings. $75 sounds like a lot of money, but we probably doubled back through the aisles of Kroger at least three times trying to get as much food as we could for the money. The cheapest rice in the store was our side dish, and on top of that, we stuffed the pork dumplings with lots of spinach because meat is expensive.
All of our shopping left us about 40 minutes to make the meal, which in this case involved an intricate folding process to keep the innards of the dumplings intact while they were cooking. Unfortunately, Lucas wasn't very good at teaching us how to fold them, and over half of them exploded in the pot of boiling water. They tasted fine, but we weren't winning any awards for presentation. In the end, it didn't matter that our dumplings had gone inside out, because everyone was just happy to be in the house eating a meal together.
If we were to poll incoming first-years before they got to campus, I would expect very few of them would say they are interested in joining a Greek organization. Despite that, about a quarter of the students here are Greek. I think it comes down to the fact that people enjoy joining a group of friends that has distinct values. At least, that's why I stuck with it once I was asked to start paying dues. The guys had become my friends, but what made me stay was that we were consciously trying to hold ourselves accountable to what we had defined as our values.
There are plenty of sappy reasons why I'm glad to be a Phi Kap. Mostly, it comes down to the fact that those guys feel like my family, especially when we're all in the common room of our North Campus Apartment listening to our collaborative Spotify playlist. Also, if anyone ever asks, I can say I know how to make dumplings.