NORMAN — Bryan Partridge, NorthHaven Church’s student minister, wasn’t quite sure what was in store when a bunch of college frat guys agreed to spend time with NorthHaven Student Ministry.
But, Alpha Tau Omega (ATO), Delta Kappa chapter at the University of Oklahoma, turned out to be the complete opposite of the stereotype that clings to many American fraternities, Partridge said. For a whole year, ATO members gave up their free time to mentor Norman students.
Partridge got the idea to reach out to ATO after speaking with his brother-in-law who works in ATO’s national office. Partridge said he was looking for a way to find volunteers who were willing to spend time with the church’s youth.
“Right now we don’t have a college ministry that I could pull volunteers from, so I approached ATO. When I first announced that a fraternity would be spending time with our students, one member said ‘Are you throwing a kegger for our youth?’ He was joking of course, but that is still a perception people have of fraternities,” Partridge said. “Our students have had the chance to see that’s not what they’re all about. That older college students — frat guys — are willing to spend time with them.”
Since last year, ATO has met every Monday with NorthHaven youth who are students at Irving, Alcott, Whittier, Norman High and Norman North to tutor them and spend quality time talking and getting to know each other. Partridge said the fraternity sends about three young men each week and that volunteers come frequently enough that the kids remember certain frat brothers and look forward to seeing them.
“If the students don’t have homework, then the guys talk to the students about college life or a student might ask what their church believes about certain things and the guys would want to be a part of the conversation,” Partridge said.