By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T

Face it. College fraternities rarely get good press. If it isn’t beer swilling, promiscuity or rowdiness, its snobbery – there must be something wrong with a group you have to be invited to join.

Of course, most fraternity brothers would emphatically disagree.

At La Salle University, where senior James Fischer is a member of Alpha Chi Rho through his local chapter (Omega Phi), he can point to a variety of outreach programs performed both on national and local levels.

“We tend to focus on programs in the neighborhood,” he said, “and this year raised money for a couple of Christian Brothers’ schools in the Philippines.” Nationally, Alpha Chi Rho also provides volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.{{more}}

Alpha Chi Rho, which was founded in Hartford, Conn., in 1895, has among its guiding principles brotherhood of men, insistence on high and clean moral standards, brotherly love among members and acceptance of all races, creeds and nationalities. There are 37 active chapters nationally, including 25-member Omega Phi, which is non-residential.

Fischer recently received a $4,000 scholarship from the national group, which he will apply against his expenses this year. He applied for a student loan, but after receiving his application the national office suggested he apply for the scholarship instead. With advice from Oblate of St. Francis de Sales Father James Dever, who is both campus minister at La Salle and faculty advisor to the fraternity, he composed the necessary personal essay and received the scholarship.

“I had no idea what to write about myself. I sat in front of the computer for hours,” Fischer confessed.

In an accompanying letter of recommendation Father Dever said, “In addition to his own academic interests, he is always available to all members of the fraternity to assist them in their academic pursuits. I am often amazed at how much time he is able to give to other brothers as he maintains his own level of academic success.”

A member of St. Anselm Parish in Far Northeast Philadelphia, when it came time for high school, Fischer chose to go out of his comfort zone and enrolled at Northeast Catholic High School, specifically because of its spanerse ethnic and economic mix.

“I wanted a different background to give me a better understanding of different people,” he said.

During his college years he’s supplemented parental support and student loans by working about 20 hours weekly for Friendly’s Ice Cream, mostly as a cook.

Next year he hopes to go on to law school, either in New York or Pennsylvania.

“I had been considering social work, but then decided on law,” he said, “probably criminal law or family law. I’m not interested in business law. I want to do something that helps people every day.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.