They’re so connected that they’re disconnected

By: Joe Cutaia, York ’97

I am a strong advocate of this: You’ve got to give back from what you’ve been given.

At York College, I was given a lot from Phi Kappa Psi. Not that I joined the fraternity looking for a lot. I was in it for the social aspect, but it ended up being so much more.

York is a small private college in Pennsylvania. With eight fraternities, Phi Psi’s reputation was that of being the most involved. We were the largest, with the highest GPA and the most involved in intramurals.

I hadn’t given a thought to joining a fraternity until I got to know the Resident Assistant on my dorm floor. He was a Phi Psi, and it ended up that 15 of my 19 pledge brothers were from my floor.

What solidified my post-graduate involvement was Grand Arch Council. Four of us started attending as undergraduates in the late ’90s. It was such a great experienced that we committed to keep going for as long as we could. Two of us are still going. This July’s GAC in Vegas will be our ninth!

What I’ve gained is a lifelong connection with brothers from around the country. I live in Philly now, and some of my friendships and career connections continue to come out of Phi Psi. I serve as an advisor to our Penn Iota brothers and also as secretary for our local alumni association.

I started supporting the Foundation because I see the outcome of how they use my gifts to benefit our brothers — all the educational and leadership opportunities. There’s a lot of transparency there, the effects of giving are visible.

And considering how much things have changed from just 20 years ago when I was an undergraduate, the need is certainly there. What I see in today’s generation of young adults is that a lot of them are so connected that they’re disconnected! Digital media has given them new communications platforms, but taken away a lot of their “face to face” skills. Technology has also gotten them used to having instant answers to problems.

As an advisor I spend a lot of time actively listening. I purposely interact with them one-on-one to help work through challenging issues and deal with difficult people head-on, in ways that can’t be solved on a computer.

I try to help them see that communicating directly with people and through people is a better way — you set ground rules, give brothers opportunities to be involved, realize that everything that pops into your head shouldn’t necessarily be immediately spoken for everyone to hear.

I also think my generation was more independent earlier in life. Today’s young people are living their childhood much longer.

I see the Foundation’s programming helping young Phi Psis mature along their journey. Yes, I support my chapter directly. But I also give to the national Foundation to allow them the flexibility to do what’s necessary for chapters nationally — rather than me directing how every dollar should be spent. I know my local chapter will reap the benefits of funding either way.

By staying involved and making a yearly gift, I just feel like I’m giving back from what I took in the first place.