It’s never too late to learn more

By Annastazia Camarena

You are never too old to learn something new, so why should your age dictate your college experience? College life meant doing it big to Jerry Reid, a 68-year-old man who attends the University of Virginia as an undergraduate. Kudos to him, right? Here’s the kicker: He is also a fraternity boy…elder?

Age hasn’t stopped this free spirit from getting the whole college experience,; not even his wife could hold him back. According to an interview with the New York Time’s David Wallis, Reid said his wife only had two requests when her husband decided he wanted to go back to school: She would not live in a dorm with him and she would appreciate if he didn’t pledge a fraternity. Reid did not comply with his wife’s requests but danced around the rush process; he became a Chi Phi brother through initiation because he knew “Jim Soderquist, the Grand Alpha of Chi Phi–the top guy in the national organization.”

Despite the significant age gap between Reid and his fraternity brothers, according to the same interview, he doesn’t want to be “known as a grandfather. I want to be known as a brother and they allow me to do that.”

I wonder what the current members of Chi Phi at UV thought when Reid initially announced he wanted to become a brother. Sure, the public has heard about more non-traditional students, but what about one getting initiated in a fraternity at such a seasoned age?

I decided to ask for an opinion on Reid from a current member of a fraternity at NIU: Humberto Pina, senior pre-physical therapy major. Pina is a brother of Omega Delta. He is the former vice president and social chair and will soon celebrate his third year anniversary since pledging in 2010. When I informed him about Reid, he was a bit surprised but very enthused to see an elderly man would be so involved on campus and join a fraternity. When I asked him what he might think if a 68-year-old man wanted to join Omega Delta, he informed me that “the mission of Omega Delta is accept people of all walks of life, and if he wanted to join, he can.”

I was curious to see if Pina would be hesitant to treat him any differently than the younger rushing pledges, but he said as long as “he was healthy he would be treated the same, but that doesn’t mean he is going to make it [through the rushing process].”

The only struggle Pina could see for Reid was becoming a part of the fraternity social life, and how that might affect some of the mixers of the fraternity.

For many of Reid’s young friends in the fraternity, he is a “20-year-old with 48 years of extra experience.” Age clearly isn’t a factor for Reid and his fraternity brothers in Chi Phi and it shouldn’t be a reason to hold back any student’s involvement in his or her college years regardless of when they decide to attend.