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Former University President Sheldon Hackney, right, talks with a guest at his lecture on the American identity, held yesterday at St. Anthony fraternity. [Rebecca Heidenberg/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

With the Penn midterm schedule in full gear this week, St. Anthony fraternity set aside yesterday afternoon to discuss intellectual issues outside the classroom.

The fraternity, also known as Delta Psi, welcomed former University President and current History Professor Sheldon Hackney to their Locust Walk house to lead a discussion on how the American identity has changed since the events of Sept. 11.

"You don't need to be sitting in a classroom to discuss serious ideas," Hackney said.

In his comments, Hackney shared his view of the patriotic American response to Sept. 11.

"It was one of heroism and self sacrifice beyond what I thought possible," he said.

Hackney connected with his audience, relating America's new search for identity to the fraternal atmosphere.

"We are always learning how to be independent, yet clinging to our family," he said. "Being part of a team, a nation or a fraternity is attractive to one because ultimately you discover who you are through relationships with other people."

The members of St. Anthony were not the only people in attendance, as the brothers were encouraged to bring along faculty members as guests. But only a handful of professors actually attended the discussion.

Legal Studies Professor Leigh Bauer was present at the event with his wife, Delores. Bauer was asked to attend by one of his students, but stressed that he did not need to be cajoled into attending.

"I did it at my own free will," Bauer said. "My wife and I care about students, and we try to spend time with students."

Wharton junior and Delta Psi brother Matt Butler helped organize the inaugural event, which he hopes will become an annual tradition. Although yesterday's talk was only open to fraternity brothers and professors, Butler said that he anticipates future events will be open to the entire University.

Nonetheless, Butler said he was excited about the Greek-faculty interaction that yesterday's event helped to foster.

"It will be unique," Butler said prior to Hackney's talk. "It's something you don't see happening between the Greek community and the professors."

College freshman Billy Peele was impressed with the words of the former Penn president.

"Professor Hackney was a fascinating lecturer and the topic of American identity since Sept. 11 was very interesting to me."

Hackney was equally impressed with the participation of the brothers.

"Their questions and comments were very perceptive," he said.

Fraternity brother and College sophomore Patrick Willis was impressed with the way yesterday's event brought fraternity brothers and faculty together.

"An event like this exposes the faculty and encourages interaction with the fraternity system," he said. "It is good to have things going on that build a relationship between the faculty and the fraternities."

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