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Follow Your North Star Joe Grimes ’82, offers sage advice to today’s young Fraternity Men

I was a swimmer in high school and wanted to swim in college, so gravitated to swimmers automatically.  I also was taking some classes freshman year with Sophomores who were in the fraternity and they made it sound like a great organization. At decision day I had multiple bids, but in the end decided to go with the Delts and have absolutely no regrets

Some of my best memories include the Delt formals, along with just kicking back in the Delt lounge watching football and other sports.

During my time as an undergrad, I was House and Ground Chairman.The frat was part of my Kenyon experience which overall prepared me for life after college. The frat allowed for the development of deep friendships; understanding different points of view; the value of teamwork; how to work through decisions with different brothers where our opinions were different; motivation; and influence; hard to get people to clean up detail the day after an event if they don’t have a certain amount of belief and faith in your process and integrity. These have been core skills in my professional career as a senior leader in various companies and in my personal family life.

I think the Greek system is getting an unfair view by many people today. I found the frat a great organization to join and feel like I grew a lot personally from the experiences and, of course, the mistakes where my brothers were there to help me make sure they weren’t too bad. Both my son and daughter were members of Greek organizations during their college years (neither at Kenyon) and they had similar feelings. However, the Greek system is now under a microscope more due to some extreme examples of hazing, sexual abuse, racism, bullying and other non-acceptable behaviors. I believe in general that these are the extremes vs. the norm. 

All students want organizations where they feel they belong, are valued for and they themselves can feel a deep sense of connection and loyalty whether a frat, band, club or something else. The Greek system though is the most structured of all of these and extends across many universities, which is why it is much easier to condemn these organizations than individual organizations. At the same time given this position, we have a responsibility to exhibit and show a higher standard as leaders of organizations within our schools. The Greek system is an important part of growing up and even the pressures being brought to bear on it today is part of this education, how we react will show our leadership and our value to the institutions in which we have chapters. If we do it right, we will be wanted, respected and considered a key valuable piece of the college’s experience, if we don’t then we risk the college pushing us out.

I have spent more than 30 year in the financial services industry in multiple businesses, functions and leadership positions. I started at GE Capital and have worked at a variety of companies including a subsidiary of Dun & Bradstreet and have been at Fannie Mae as a VP since 2005. I received my MBA from Harvard Business School in 1988 and married my wife Jennifer, who I met at GE, two days after graduation. We have two children Joseph and Catherine both who are out of college (neither went to Kenyon). Joseph is working in New Jersey, and Catherine is finishing classes required for her to go to grad school. We moved to California in 1998, and have been here ever since living in Westlake Village outside of Los Angeles and about half-way to Santa Barbara.

For today’s young men, have a very good sense of what is right and what is wrong in your mind. Lead your life on this aspect vs. just what the rules say -  this is your North Star which should guide you whenever tough choices are presented to you. The North Star is important because even rules may be flawed and need to be challenged even more difficult when people are comfortable with them as the status quo. It is those that follow their North Star that challenge what exists today and force change that makes things better going forward. As members of a leadership organization your responsibility is even greater, make sure you treat it carefully and make sure that what you do make those around you proud to be your brother and friend, not ashamed to have ever know you.

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