Former congressman promotes engagement, public service

Former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton visited Sigma Phi Epsilon, encouraging brothers to run for political office.

Hamilton was in the House of Representatives for 34 years. He spoke to a group of Sig Ep members Tuesday night about the importance of political interest as part of their Residential Learning Community.

Hamilton graduated from DePauw University and later from the Maurer School of Law.

During his time at DePauw, he was president of the Alpha Tau Omega chapter. After practicing law for five years, Hamilton said he developed an interest in public policy and knew the only way to properly exercise it was through politics.

“I got a little restless and ran for politics when I was young,” he said. “I have never, ever regretted it.”

One bit of advice he gave to aspiring politicians is to be able to get along with everyone, regardless of who they are.

“You have to be comfortable in the fraternity house, you have to be comfortable in the barber shop and you have to be comfortable in the grocery store,” he said.

He also said once candidates are elected into Congress, they must not forget about the people they represent in their district or state. He said they are most vital whenever legislators are working on policy in Washington, D.C.

“You will learn a lot from your constituency about what is needed,” he said.

Though Hamilton said he understands there is a lot to do with both the constituency and Washington D.C., he said it is important to be able to balance the two.

“That’s part of the political game,” he said. “You will never finish your to-do list.”

Hamilton also spoke about educational ideals, especially in regard to liberal arts education.

“I think liberal arts education broadens the horizons and increases the sympathies,” he said.

On top of this, he said he believes every student should have a strong education in communication.

“I am amazed at the number of college students who cannot write an English sentence,” he said.

Sig Ep brothers attending the event said they were interested in what Hamilton said and held great respect for him.

“Looking through his point of view and looking at all the perspectives he can bring to college kids is definitely something I can benefit from,” Sig Ep freshman Alex Wisniewski said.

Sig Ep is one of the few greek houses on campus with a strong emphasis on educational programming, and Sig Ep sophomore Conor Yerkes said this can be beneficial to all fraternities, even if the subject matter is not within a brother’s major.

“I think it’s important to get other aspects of learning outside of the field you’re studying,” he said.

While Hamilton spent the majority of the lecture talking about politics and education, he said his real goal is for the brothers to find self-improvement by contributing to society.

“You will want to make a contribution,” he said. “And when you run the course, I will want you to look back and say, ‘I made a difference in the life of my fellow man.’”

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