I spent the last three days in Flint, Michigan and am happy to report I am back safe and sound in Oxford. Flint is home to Kettering University (www.kettering.edu), formerly called General Motors Institute. Up until recently, it was where people went if they wanted to get management or engineering jobs with General Motors. The school is still mostly for engineers, but they leave the school and go into all industries, not just working for GM. An intersting thing about Kettering is that the students go to school for a quarter and then go work in a co-op with a company for a quater. School is year round so bascially, they spend two quarters in school and two quarters working. All of the students are split up into two sections (A&B) and when one is working in a co-op, the other is in school.
As far as chapter operations go, there are basically two chapters at Kettering. They have A section and B section and even though they go to the same school, there is very little interaction or socialization between the two sections. When I talked to the Greek advisor he mentioned that in some chapters, the two sections do not get along. Its amazing to me that they can be in the same fraternity and the same school and not get along with the other section.
I leanred more about cars in my short trip to Flint than I ever had. Most of the students there do their co-ops with either the big car companies or companies that build car components. Some advice I picked up along the way:
1. Don't buy a car that was built on a Monday, Friday, or around a major Holiday. Workers get lazy.
2. Don't buy the first year or the last year of a model.
3. Don't buy a car that features a new technology (i.e. Hybrid, electric) until it has been on the market for more than 3 years.
Good advice to know. I have not yet looked, but I am going to check what day my car was manufactured on to find out if I should be worried.
Okay, now time for a disclaimer: I allowed other people's opinions to shapre my view of Flint before I even got there. After hearing about previous visits to the chapter and the city, I fully expected that we were being dropped into East Fallujah.
I don't think I have ever heard anything good about Flint. I even watched the Micael Moore movie about how depressing a place Flint was. All I could think about while we were driving there was the fact that I heard they were the murder capital of the US.
As you can clearly see on the above graph, Flint is not the murder capital of the US after all.
Flint (http://www.visitflint.org/), I am sorry I judged you before accurately researching. I also expected to see every house boarded up with weeds growing up in the front yard. We did see our fair share of them (in some cases, it seemed like every other house was abandonded), it was not nearly as bad as I expected. As for crime, all of the houses had good lighting and high fences. The members were very proud to report that they had not had an incident in "Months."
All in all, Flint was a rough, scary place that I enjoyed I got to experience but hope I never have to go back to. The guys in the chapter were very stereotypical engineers but nice guys and I really enjoyed hearing about the latest car technology. I am after all, a real dork at heart.
On Wednesday, we got up real early to visit Ann Arbor and see the University of Michigan. Michigan was a very pretty campus, but huge. One thing I thought was interesting was that the school's newspaper refers to Ann Arbor as A Squared (I was looking for how to put the little 2 above the letter like you would in math to denote squared, but I have no clue how to). After a search that was much longer than it should have been, I got postcards and a pint glass to add to the collection.
And because we were close and in the college visiting mood, we stopped in to see Bowling Green State University. The real reason for the visit was to visit a past president of the Phi Delt governing board and take him out to lunch. Bowling Green is not the prettiest city nor does it have the prettiest campus, but I am still a fan.
Three universities in one day. A new record for me.
Very shortly, I will begin travelling and I expect to fill this blog with more of my adventures.