Possibility, Brotherhood and Life Saving Actions
Vogel pledged Chi Phi and was initiated in 1982. “I chose Chi Phi because I was comfortable there, but mostly because a number of my friends from East Halls joined, as well,” he explained. “…Having belonged to a fraternity with a house for home base certainly makes coming back to State College more like coming home.
“At a big school like PSU, having a group to identify with is a good thing,” he continued, reflecting on his relationship with his brothers. “When belonging to a group, you won’t always agree with everyone, and a lot of the time it’s hard to see that you all have the same goals, but mostly, things work out for the best.”
Vogel lived in the house during his junior and senior years and enjoyed his time there. Having come from a large family, it was familiar to him to have a house full of people and many different things going on.
It wasn’t just his brothers and the house that he remembers fondly. “I loved our cook, Mrs. Watson,” he said. “She was like another grandmother to me. I loved the food she made and chatting with her in the Kitchen.” In fact, Vogel loved her cooking so much, he asked his mother to make similar recipes for him, to which she answered, “That’s what we ate during the Depression!” But for Vogel, good food was good food, and no one in the house prepared it like Mrs. Watson.
Living at the house had other positive influences on him, as well. He noted that the house was well run and “there were a number of guys who were good managers, lots of engineers and ROTCs. Although I didn’t really think much about it at the time, I appreciate the order and discipline that they brought to the organization.”
Vogel specifically mentions his pledge master, Larry Serafin ‘83. “His job was to be a real pain in the butt, but he was a great leader. He had us build a bar in the dining room, and I still remember how he led us on the Trek and other activities during pledging. He was always so positive and eager.”
Looking to the future, Vogel hopes the house he made such good memories in continues to be preserved and appreciated. “I love that house at 360 East Hamilton… and I hope [it] is preserved by people who appreciate the structure and its history.”
Vogel has one last bit of advice for the young men of Chi Phi that stems from a personal experience: remember to be good, decent people who look out for not only their brothers, but the people around them at large.
His contemporaries can attest that Vogel had never been a big drinker. One day, however, during a happy hour party, he decided to partake, which resulted in a lesson and experience he remembers to this day.
The morning after the event, Vogel woke up with little memory of the previous night. He was told that he had fallen due to intoxication and had been carried to his room by two brothers. When one came back to check on him later, they found him on his back chocking on vomit in his sleep. Vogel was immediately rolled over on his side and cleaned up by a brother Vogel once thought wasn’t all that fond of him. Whether or not that was true, his brothers still stepped in when he needed help the most.
“Bottom line is, [they] probably saved my life that day,” he said.
Some could choose to attribute this life-saving action to the bond of brotherhood, but Vogel attributes it to the common decency and goodness of brothers in his time. They looked out for each other, kept an eye on them when something bad happened and stepped in to help out of a desire to keep another person safe without asking for anything in return.
“I haven’t heard from [them] since I graduated in 1984, but they were good, decent people then, and I bet that they still are today.”
Vogel doesn’t blame the Greek system, the fraternity or anyone else for his experience. Rather, he feels some have forgotten what it means to be good, kind people as well as strong brothers.
So, in response, Vogel advises the undergraduates to be kind, be decent, and look out for the people around them. You never know how much that will affect them.
“I was lucky to have joined a group with such people, and I hope the current group of guys at 360 East Hamilton have the same good luck as I had.”