Erasing the stigma around fraternities    

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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Stereotypes and misconceptions of Greek life live in many people’s minds, but the members of Sigma Alpha Mu, Sammy, have shared their stories to help erase the stigma. 

“A large chunk of becoming a man and talking like a man and acting like one comes through the support of the boys,” Michael Barry said. “They really build your confidence a lot more and you appreciate the confidence that they give you more than a lot of people in your own life, even your own family.” 

Barry is a sophomore human geography student at Michigan State University. He rushed Sammy this past fall semester. 

“They kept texting me and on a fateful Tuesday, said ‘Hi, this is Kyle from Sammy. Come over here’,” Barry said. “So I took bus 26 and I arrived here. I could tell that it was different. This is a different culture than a lot of other frats.”

Mike Gastwirth is a senior agribusiness management student. He has been a part of Sammy since 2022 and has always tried to look out for the younger members. One person he brought under his wing was sophomore supply chain management student Nick Lagoe.

“He was someone that I tried to keep an extra eye on because he was someone that reminded me of myself when I was going through the process of becoming a member,” Gastwirth said. 

Lagoe is the current treasurer of Sammy. The treasurer is a part of the executive board of the fraternity. 

“I manage all of our finances, budgeting, collecting dues,” Lagoe explained. “I also have roles within social and philanthropy and just helping out the younger guys with their positions.” 

With Sammy being a smaller fraternity, including only 24 active members, there is the opportunity to be put in leadership positions quickly.

“The guys that join in the fall, they have the immediate opportunity to take a position once they become brothers,” Gastwirth said. 

Another benefit of Sammy being a fraternity that doesn’t have over 100 members, is the close friendships that members have developed between one another. 

“You have that sense of belonging and you have that tight-knit group of people,” Lagoe said. “We’re all just one big group and we all hang out together.”

A common stereotype of fraternity members is the ‘frat bro’ mentality. People assume that members are dumb, drug abusers, alcoholics, womanizers, or don’t care about their grades, Barry explained. 

“The biggest misconception the general public has is you’re paying to have friends,” Gastwirth said. “It’s a lot deeper than that. The fact you gain tangible skills that you might need, that you probably will need in the future.”

Sammy had a philanthropy called Touchdowns for Harley. The event was a flag football event aiming to raise a total of $10,000. 

Harley Rockind was a member of Sammy who graduated from MSU last year but died from diffuse midline gliomas (DMG), a brain tumor, on Feb. 16. 

“Both fraternities and sororities can participate,” Lagoe explained. “Right now we’ve already raised close to almost $5,000 just in sweatshirt sales.” 

Part of the money will be used to buy a memorial bench for Rockind in his hometown Birmingham Michigan, and the rest will be donated to the DMG, brain cancer research fund. 

Touchdowns for Harley was held on April 14 at the Forest Akers Trust Practice Complex. You can find more information at

“Our motto is ‘L & R’, which is love and respect,” Gastwirth said. “That just encapsulates everything that we’re trying to do around here.” 

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