April 1, 2005
A father and son, both currently enrolled students at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, are finding themselves making history, as they blur their parent-child relationship by together pledging to become brothers in a campus fraternity.
The unique situation began earlier in the current semester when 19-year-old Steve Bubier, a freshman in the secondary education program at UMFK approached his father, 36-year-old Lloyd Pulk, asking him to attend a meeting with representatives from the national Kappa Delta Phi organization.
Bubier was looking for one more warm body to attend a meeting with the fraternity leaders that was scheduled to discuss reactivating the UMFK chapter, which had been dormant for the past few years. A total of a dozen potentially interested pledges were required by Kappa, and Bubier and his group of friends were one short.
"I always wanted to join a fraternity for the brotherhood aspect of it," said Bubier. "When I came here I found out that the frat was not active and some friends and I wanted to start it back up, so I asked dad to help by attending a meeting so we would have the twelve people we needed."
Pulk, who will enter his final year in the environmental studies program this fall, was more than happy to help his son and his friends out. After all it was because of his fatherly encouragement that Bubier elected to attend UMFK.
But, what was intended to be a one-time favor for a son, has turned into a first for the 105-year-old of Kappa Delta Phi Fraternity, and a twist on a father and son relationship that has led to both some confusion and a new, undeniable bond.
"I think it's awesome," said Pulk. "Our relationship has grown tremendously. I enjoy getting to see him more. When we're doing fraternity things, it's pretty cool because we're on the buddy system and we have become closer friends. At times I have to switch back into the 'dad mode'. This way I get to guide, and be side-by-side."
In recent weeks "doing fraternity things" has meant working together with the other pledges to prepare the group for an upcoming exam that will be administered to determine the status of the chapter with the national Kappa organization.
"It's like an independent study of sorts because there is no one to teach us the ropes about the fraternity. It has required us to work closely together and has given us a closer bond than if we'd be pledging and have members already in the frat to work with," said Pulk.
Later this month, Pulk and Bubier along with other pledges will travel to the Kappa Delta Phi national convention in Nashua, New Hampshire for a trip that will include a celebration marking the official recognition of the Fort Kent chapter.
Even before the two officially become 'brothers', they are making their mark on the fraternity.
"I think it's a great thing. A father and son pledging together has never been done in Kappa History," said Jason Gayne, the president-elect of the Fort Kent chapter. "It is the perfect timing with all the excitement about activating the chapter. The fraternity leaders at the national level are really taking notice of what is happening in Fort Kent."
For the father and son, joining Kappa is less about making history and more about the service they will provide to the campus and community and time they will spend together.
Both acknowledge that the next year together as 'brothers' will present unique challenges.
"It's different because in one aspect of the fraternity you have to look at each other as brothers or peers. At times it is hard to distinguish between the father-son and the frat relationship," said Bubier. "Sometimes he has to be the dad and be on me about school. It's funny when I sometimes think we are doing the 'brother' thing and all of a sudden we switch into the father-son role."
The one part of the traditional fraternity brother relationship that Pulk and Bubier will not experience is living in the same frat house together. UMFK does not allow fraternities affiliated with the campus to establish an official off-campus resident.
Bubier will continue to reside on-campus and Pulk in an apartment in downtown Fort Kent.
It does appear, however, that both the father-son and budding 'brother' bonds shared between the two are only growing stronger.
"I'm very grateful that he joined. He's been such a help to me, from showing me the way around campus to getting adjusted to college life. He is now helping me realize another dream by helping the fraternity come to life. If he didn't join, I wouldn't have had the opportunity," said Bubier.