By Cesar Gonzalez
Daily Titan Staff Writer
When Zechariah Gummig graduated from La Mirada High School in 2004, he wanted to get a complete college experience. Gummig, 24, entered school as a civil engineer major but changed his major to business management in his freshman year at Cal State Fullerton (spring 2005) to pledge the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon.
“I joined to get the entire college experience and to have fun and meet new people,” he said. â€œI chose Sigma Phi (Epsilon) because when I went into their house I felt accepted and comfortable, and I believed in their ideals and agreed with their rules.â€
Gummig is one of hundreds of CSUF students who each year join fraternities and sororities in a way to either get to meet new people, just to try to be involved in school, or try to live the college experience. Gummig joined to make friends and to try to be able to live the college life.
Friends encouraged Gummig to join a fraternity to try something new, as he had seen in movies about joining a fraternity or a sorority.
After pledging, he said that there is three different processes that a potential brother needs to go through when he decides to become a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. The first process is the Sigma phase in which the members teach pledges how to work as a team. Next, a pledge goes through the Phi phase where he is now part of the fraternity and begins to learn how to run the chapter and work as an individual. Finally in the Epsilon phase, the brother is officially a full member of the fraternity and runs the chapter.
Gummig said that as a member of a fraternity there are advantages and disadvantages.
The benefits of being in a fraternity are that you are brothers, living with a common direction, Gummig said. Living with them has made him the person he is today, and prior to joining, he was not going down a good road. Gummig added that a brother gains many connections.
â€œYouâ€™re not joining to buy friends,â€ he said, adding that people who pledge go out and rebuild themselves into a better person.
The only disadvantage of being in a fraternity is the stereotyping by some people who think that all frat members do is party and drink.
Sigma Phi Epsilon gives out seven awards every spring such as the best athlete, gentleman and best scholar in the house. In 2006, Gummig was awarded the Burning Heart award which is given to the brother who shows the most love and enthusiasm for a fraternity.
Gummig served on the fraternity executive board for two years from 2006-07 and was the vice president of the Interfraternity Council in 2007-08. Serving on the fraternity executive board, he was in charge of his chapter and its retreats, making sure everyone was maintaining their GPA, establishing brotherhood and getting members to know each other.
While serving in the IFC, he was in charge of all the new fraternity members, showing members how to balance school and living in a fraternity life, as well as recruiting members.
Eric Pontrelli, a former member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, described Gummig as being a leader in the fraternity. One thing he enjoyed while being in the fraternity with Gummig is that he “saw (Gummig) as a mentor, showed (Pontrelli) what college life is and (he was) a big brother in a way.â€
Pontrelli added that Gummig helped him and other members with the fraternity projects.
â€œ(Gummig) helped younger members learn to keep a positive attitude in the fraternity,â€ said Ingvar Corona. Corona is in the fraternity with Gummig and added that he is helpful when the fraternity has projects to do.