Archive for March, 2011

Marcin Bednarski

Marcin Bednarsk (picture taken from Facebook

Over the weekend, I sat down with Marcin Bednarski, the President of Beta Theta Pi at the University of Arizona.  Bednarski is one of the many members of Beta Theta Pi who was born in, and grew up in a country outside of the United States. After getting through a little small talk, we began our interview…

So you were born outside of the U.S.  Where were you born?

I was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1989.

How long did you live there?

I lived there for 13 years, through my 6th grade year.

When did your family move to the U.S.? And why?

We moved in June of 2002 due to my parents receiving green cards and making the decision to move. At the time, the US was at the peak of its economic strength, which drew my parents to here.

So your parents’ jobs were the main reasoning.  What do your parents do?

My father is a dental technician and my mother is a nail technician.

How many siblings do you have that moved with you and your family?

I have one sister, who also moved with us.

Do any other members of your family live in the U.S. or are all the others in Poland?

My dad’s brother, my godfather, lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter. All my other relatives live in Poland.

How often do you get back to Poland?

Every other year during the summer.

What is the biggest difference between the U.S. and Poland?

There are many differences. I have to say that the biggest difference is the lifestyle. The U.S. is very materialistic while Poland places greater value on enjoyment of life rather than monetary possessions.

What made you decide to join Beta when you came to UA?

I lived in an apartment complex and never got the dorm experience because I declared late. I wanted to join a fraternity in order to expand my circle of friends, find a place I can call home at the UA, and enjoy the brotherhood and support of other people which is vital to a person’s well being.

Is there anything similar to fraternities at colleges and universities in Poland?

No, the Greek system in U.S. is very unique and there is nothing that even closely resembles it in Poland. A lot of students however envy our system of fraternities and would like something such as that to start up in Poland.

So are you happy you joined a fraternity then?

I am happy because whenever I need someone to talk to, ask for advice, ask for help or simply interact with all I have to do is open a door in my room. Simple interaction with all the great members of the fraternity by itself is enough. Apart form that however, my fraternity has developed and improved me as a person in countless ways. After pledge semester and taking part in fraternity life, I feel like there is nothing that I cannot accomplish or participate in. Beta has given me the courage and resources to take action, speak my mind and live a happy life apart from being a one of a kind social outlet. I will never regret joining this fraternity and I dread the day when my experience will have to end.

The Beta Theta Pi House

Bednarski is currently in his first semester as president of the 120-man house.  He will finish his term in office in the fall.  Aside from Beta, Bednarski is involved in many other campus organizations, including the Chain Gang Junior Honorary.  He is currently pursuing three majors: Entrepreneurship, Business Management, and Physiology, and hopes to attend dental school following graduation.  After dental school, he plans to open up his own orthodontics practice, somewhat following in the footsteps of his father.


Will Saetren

Photo courtesy of Will Saetren

Greek Systems on college campuses across the nation provide students with an opportunity to create a sort of “home away from home” when they step out from under the comfort of their parents house and enter the real world of secondary education.  In many cases, the families created by becoming part of a fraternity or sorority shape the eventual future of a college career, often stretching much later into an individuals life.  However, there are scenarios in which it only takes a few weeks or months for a person to realize the family they are working diligently to create may not be the best option. Such was the case with Will Saetren.

A citizen of both the United States and Norway, Saetren first enrolled in the University of Arizona in 2006.  Though he spent a majority of his childhood living in Norway, Saetren had already spent a significant amount of time in the states, and even spent a year as a student at Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson.  Because of his fathers role as a college professor in Norway, every few years he was able to travel to the states with his family to set up a temporary residence for a years time.

In his first semester at UA, Saetren opted to go through Fraternity Rush, ultimately landing him an invitation to join Sigma Alpha Epsilon.  Despite living in the U.S. for a few years of his childhood, he remained virtually ignorant of what the Greek system entailed.  “We don’t have any form of a Greek system in Norway, so everything I knew about fraternities I learned from movies like Animal House and Old School.  Those were still my references when I was about to go through rush, I didn’t know anything,” Saetren said.

It wasn’t long after he accepted his invitation to SAE that Saetren began to feel out of his element.  A few weeks into that first semester, his pledge semester, he made the decision to drop out of the house.  Though he never found a place in the fraternity, he was happy to have taken the opportunity, “It was definitely different, and would never have been something I could experience in Norway.”

The Kappa Alpha Theta house where Saetren worked as a hasher.

Even after his separation from SAE, Saetren still kept his foot in Greek life in a way.  For the final three years at UA, he worked as a hasher at Kappa Alpha Theta.  As a hasher, he would work in the kitchen and dining room of the sorority during lunch and dinners.  “That job was absolutely one of the most interesting jobs I’ve ever had,” Saetren said. “Some of the things I would see and hear in the house were crazy, after all I was an employee there and may not have been seen as a fellow student at all times.  I had a great time over the years as a hasher.”

Saetren recently graduated in December of 2010, and shortly after moved back to Norway to live with his family.  However, his tenure overseas will be short lived, as he plans on returning in the fall to attend graduate school at American University, pursuing a degree in Russian studies.  Until then, he remains as proof that even if a college kid cannot find a house they fit into does not necessarily constrict them from experiencing at least a small part of Greek life elsewhere.