Friday, July 25, 2014

Frat Boy: The Sisters

My wife Diana was a member of the Beta chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) at Northwestern. I’ve been to two other weddings between a member of PMA and a member of SAI. Off the top of my head I can think of ten other married couples between these two houses and endless dating couples.

SAI and PMA wasn’t merely a dating pool. I didn’t lead with that to give you that impression. There were many people who didn’t date between the houses. But the fact that so many people did and created life-long relationships like me and Diana speaks to the power of the relationship between these two different organizations.

PMA and SAI are the two music fraternities on campus. Once upon a time PMA was focused less on being social and more on bringing musicians together. At Northwestern this has evolved more into a social fraternity. SAI is still a music fraternity for woman. Like PMA, SAI has a house on campus and has more a social aspect than many other SAI chapters at different colleges.

There are also many people in SAI and PMA who are NUMB, hence the NUMB-Mu-Alpha-Iota social group name. This Venn-diagram of social group was one made my experience in PMA so much more than just hanging out with boys. SAI as part of our fraternal family gave balance to everything we do, and we did the best we could to help out SAI.

One time SAI organized a dance party with another fraternity on campus. Me and other PMA guys weren’t planning on going until a call from Heather, one of my best friend and SAI’s social chair at the time. The party was dead and the brothers of that frat were either out or playing video games, so she asked me if we could help. Ten minutes later, most of my frat was at that frat house bringing the party back to life.

SAI many times was the life of our parties. We could always depend on their support for our events no matter how poorly planned or communicated. One of my favorite things that the girls would do is come to our Rush events. These events were supposed to be for only boys but they would come and turn our informational meeting into a real social event. They would ask silly but sometimes helpful questions and broke the ice with many of these prospective members in a way none of us could.

There were some people of both houses who resented the relationship between the houses. Some boys felt that we should branch out to other sororities. My read of this was that these were guys who made a couple too many bad moves dating a girl in SAI and had an unsalvageable reputation. There were girls in SAI who weren’t interested in hanging out with us. Some girls join a sorority to get away from boys, so I understood that. College boys can really suck and be annoying. So there were those who kept to themselves during joint events.

The vast majority of members of PMA and SAI enjoyed the relationship between the houses. We were similar enough in our political structure that many of us could work together on projects but different enough that comparisons between these two groups could be disregarded if they got in the way of discussions.

Like two people in a long-term relationship there were times when things were really great between PMA and SAI and times when things were a little rockier. Some of this had to do with who was in charge. My freshmen year, the people on e-boards (executive board committee) in both groups would coordinate dates to make sure conflicts didn’t happen and sent out invites well ahead of time.. The e-board after them didn’t interact with SAI as directly and things soured a little bit. No one did anything deliberately vindictive, it was just that the people on the different e-boards were not as good friends, and therefore weren’t as excited to work together.

When my class got into power the social ties we had formed in NUMB and as underclassmen in PMA and SAI led to joint events and planning for individual events that took into consideration for the other organization.

There was a sense that there were things that these organizations could do together like have a joint music recital but things that we could not do like have a joint formal (dinner dance). But years after I left, they had a very successful joint formal, so who’s to really say what can or cannot be done.

SAI was my second home I spent so much time there that they sisters were never surprised to see my hanging out. It’s impossible for me to talk about my brothers in PMA without talking about the girls in SAI who were part of my life as a frat boy.

For me, SAI was part of the package deal that came with joining PMA. While others argued that we were not the same organizations, I always felt that SAI and PMA were one big family.

SAI challenged my brothers and I to be more organized, to strive to do things better and to be better men. This started with my first pledge party hanging out with the girls who came to welcome us to the family and has continued to this day with Diana, a sister of the SAI, who has never let this frat boy settle for being anything less than a man.  

No comments:

Post a Comment