By Francis George-A Baylor Parent
Last week my daughter, Mary Scott, called. She had been sick all week. The semester was drawing to a close. There were many things still on her plate before the semester ended. Sometimes 20 hours from home seems like a long way. But as I sat on the steps of our house and listened as my daughter spoke briefly of how badly she had felt that week physically, the call quickly turned to a more serious topic. She needed advice regarding a dear sorority sister whose mother is very ill and how to minister to her. In those moments of sorrow, I realized, what a wonderfully unique bond these girls have and how they are there for one another. I shared my advice of how to love and support in tangible and quiet ways, things I knew Mary Scott and her sisters would do with tender care and devotion. 20 hours seemed more like just down the street because just down the street was family…the sisters in her house.
At Baylor, sororities and fraternities do not live in traditional houses. The students instead, rent houses along several streets next to campus and then pass these houses down to younger members of the sorority and fraternity through the years. One little cottage of Kappas might be next door to a house of KOT men who live down the street from Chi O’s and across the street from Kappa Sigs. It’s more like a neighborhood of brothers and sisters than just random people in a college town. It’s family.
A week or two earlier, Mary Scott called and relayed a wonderful event her sorority and their dates attended, a tremendously fun outing to a Mavericks game in Dallas. Mary Scott and her co-chair were responsible for around 200 sisters and their dates, the logistics for transporting the group to and from Waco to Dallas and back as well as every other detail that is involved in a large out of town event (That is the life of the social chairs!). Mary Scott’s date, a fella from a fraternity on campus was the star of the night! “Mom, he was the best date! He encouraged me as I did my job and was patient when I had to attend to details, was helpful when I needed him and was still attentive to me, which made the evening special for me even though I was ‘on duty’”. Similarly, this has happened with another young man when Mary Scott was overseeing details for pledge formal for her house. The young man was a gentleman throughout the evening, encouraged Mary Scott, came early, and stayed late to cheer Mary Scott on. And I think they even managed to squeeze in a few dances together in the midst of the busy-ness, from the pictures I saw! He was “just the best!”
Why do I tell you these things, some of the events supremely happy ones and others borne out of deep sadness and sorrow? Because in the past months I have read with increasing upset, accusations against Greek houses on some campuses across the nation and though most, if not all, have been proven to untrue, they still leave the public with a bad taste in their mouths for collegiate Panhellenic (Greek) fraternities and perhaps, by extension, sororities.
But once again, the Baylor difference IS the difference. In all of these cases, whether in sorrow or supreme joy, the Greek system at Baylor has developed and trained young men and women who are able to rise to a challenge, whether it is planning a Dallas outing for 200 or being a shoulder on which a sister may cry who is in a very hard place. The girls in these houses greet each day with grace, dignity, and as examples to their community of what brothers and sisters are and what they do for one another.
I have spent much time on campus over the last three years getting to know Mary Scott’s friends in both sororities and fraternities. Many who know me here in North Carolina have heard me say more than once, that I have yet to meet a young man at Baylor that I would not be pleased to have Mary Scott introduce to us as a young man in whom she is interested in dating and all of these young men, without exception, are in fraternities. They have proven to be gentlemen, kind hearted, considerate of our daughter and “there” for each other. Mary Scott said it was at least second semester of her freshman year that she ever opened a door herself! A young man would rush ahead of her to open a classroom door, a car door, or a door to a campus building. Some may take offence at this gesture. But at Baylor, a gentleman is always welcome.
I have shared coffee with Mary Scott’s friends, both guys and girls, with and without Mary Scott in attendance, and I have been pleasantly welcomed by some of the most thoughtful young men and women, as they engage me in conversation as if they see me every day. But they haven’t! Remember, we live in North Carolina…20 hours away! That’s just how Baylor students behave. They are comfortable with peers and possess grace to spend time (even) with Mary Scott’s mom!
These young men and women in the Greek system at Baylor are unique. They serve. They lead. They have fun…a lot of it! They are polite. They are well spoken. They are gentlemen. They are ladies. They laugh together. They cry together. They pray together. The encourage one another. They lift each other up. They are experiencing life to the fullest together. They are a reflection of the institution they represent. And we will all be better because of their influence on our culture as they mature and go into the world. They are Baylor. And I am grateful.
As the time draws near for your student to decide where they want to invest the next four years of their life, it is my deep hope that they will choose Baylor. And even when 20 hours seems far, the quiet moment on the steps with a phone makes it seem like it is just down the street. The strength of character from outstanding young adults who support one another through joy and sorrow makes the distance seem small. Family is close by, the Baylor Family and their names just happen to be Greek… Kappa Kappa Gamma, Chi Omega, Kappa Omega Tau, Kappa Sig, Phi Chi…
So, won’t you join us for coffee at Common Grounds after class, breakfast at Café Cappuccino after Sunday church, or dinner at Ninfa’s when you arrive in town, with some of the most winsome and wonderful young adults you will ever know. Thank you Greek Life. Thank you, Baylor; the place where The House represents The Family. And suddenly it doesn’t seem so very far away.