Phi Delta Theta was more than a “fight club.” It was more than a bunch of dudes consuming things that “are not typical of eating.” Phi Delt at Emory was a brotherhood, in the broadest sense of the term.

It is still publicly unclear what specific information the anonymous emails convicting the fraternity contained. What is clear is that in our current system, fraternities are not punished for hazing; they are punished for getting caught. If any school officials truly believe that a dozen fraternities on their campus are free of hazing, then I pity their ignorance. The clear message being sent by these officials is that they haven’t the slightest care what occurs behind a fraternity’s doors as long as they don’t see it.

A few emails, a hasty summer investigation and several egregiously questionable descriptions of Phi Delt pledging made by Dean of Students Bridget Riordan in a July 25 Wheel article amid an ongoing investigation have left the Georgia Beta chapter’s existence shattered, and its legacy tainted. While the actions for which the fraternity was charged may or may not have been worthy of such negative publicity, the administration should have respected the privacy and delicacy of the investigation at hand before making statements that exaggerated the situation. Describing a night of boxing matches as a “fight club” was the most obvious example of this rhetoric.

Consequently, a promising pledge class was disbanded just months after initiation and an existing bond of brothers was broken and dispersed. These are truths that will not change, but never will I regret pledging Phi Delt.

Whether I’m living on Eagle Row or in Clairmont Towers, Emory can never take away the semester that made me into more of a man than any class or lecture I’ve ever had to sit through. From Phi Delt I didn’t learn how to drink beer or do push ups. What I did learn was how to trust, how to believe, how to love and how to forgive. I met upperclassmen whom I never would have found in my freshman classes or Learning and Living Communities. These young men became my mentors. I went places and had experiences that I never would have dreamed of when I came to Emory. These are my fondest memories from my first year in Atlanta.

Alas, I do not hope for pity or a reversal of events past. My only pity is for those incoming students present and future who will never have the opportunity to rush Phi Delt at Emory. No one can take away the bond of Phi Delt. All they can do is push it away. But in the end, it’s not us who loses; it’s the school. A few years down the line when the administration sees what becomes of Greek life at Emory and Phi Delt alumni, they might rethink their approach and sanctions for such a good group of kids.

Jake Max is a College sophomore from Baltimore, Md.

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