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Archive for Friday, June 30, 2006

Fraternities look to recruits to freshen brotherhood ranks

June 30, 2006

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A 1997 hazing incident threw one of Kansas University's oldest fraternities into a tailspin.

Nearly a decade later, Pi Kappa Alpha still is working on a comeback.

Last weekend, during rush, the newest members dressed in shirts and ties and presented themselves as the gentlemen of a revived fraternity.

"It's hard," Pi Kappa Alpha President Will Bohne said of efforts to rebuild, using an apartment complex instead of a frat house as home base. "On the KU campus, it's hard to succeed without a house."

The Pikes' headquarters were among the stops for future KU fraternity brothers in the weekend's formal recruitment.

More than 80 men participated in the four-day tour of each of KU's 19 fraternity chapters.

At KU, many men are recruited informally while in high school. KU five years ago started the men's formal recruitment for guys unable to make it to campus during the year.

Four pillars

Greek houses have different things to offer.

"Although we're all unique and individual in our own special ways when it comes to ritual and chapter-specific things, we all share in common the four pillars of greek life, which are scholarship, leadership, brotherhood/sisterhood and service," said Ray Wittlinger of the Interfraternity Council.

Prospective member Brett Rich of St. Louis said he had simple goals.

"I'm looking for a relaxed place to chill out, have a good time, meet some new people," he said.

Greek membership at KU has remained steady in recent years, in the 3,200- to 3,500-student range.

Thomas Graves of Phi Kappa Tau said many at KU supported greeks, despite the occasional problems.

Phi Kappa Theta was kicked off campus in March 2005 after police seized several beer kegs in the house. Sigma Nu last fall closed following a hazing investigation.

"There's been some things that have been rough for the greek community," Graves said. "(KU officials) have been trying to work with us."

The potential recruits went door-to-door.

At Phi Delta Theta, 1621 Edgehill Road, they met with Polo-shirt-clad men in a room filled with trophies and books. They toured study rooms and learned how the fraternity does community service.

At Phi Kappa Tau, 1100 Ind., they listened to a local band and hung out on the front porch.

"They go to every house, they hear the same thing over and over," Graves said. "We decided to get a band, let them come out, have fun - just make it different."

At each house, the pitch was similar - the fraternity's history and a tour. They talked about grades, intramurals and community service. And many maintained they don't haze.

"Even though it's illegal to do it and the Interfraternity Council discourages doing it, it goes on anyway - in little ways, in big ways," said Matt Gurbacki, president of Alpha Tau Omega. "Some people get caught for it. Most people don't."

Growing numbers

Fraternities without houses, like Alpha Tau Omega, also took part in recruitment.

ATO, which owns the house at 1537 Tenn., lost its charter. The group now counts fewer than 20 members and needs to up its numbers before reclaiming its house.

"We're starting from zero, so it takes some time," Gurbacki said.

Rebuilding is something Bohne of Pi Kappa Alpha knows well. The 1997 hazing incident allegedly left one pledge in the hospital.

"It just raised all sorts of heck," he said.

The national fraternity reviewed the membership and booted out many members, Bohne said. The house, once on Stewart Avenue, was sold and razed to make way for apartments.

Now the fraternity has 22 active members. And having an "Animal House" image isn't a problem, Bohne said. The problem is getting noticed at all.

"If you ask a lot of fraternities what Pi Kappa Alpha is, they have no idea," Bohne said. "We're starting out with a completely clean slate. Our reputation is what we make it."

Comments

Ken Miller 8 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps the best way to gain acceptance at both the university and city level is to do something about the perceived elitist, drunken fraternity membership by publicizing whatever "public service" these frat members provide. Did any of them go to New Orleans to help rebuild? Work at the local homeless shelter? Build a house for Habitat? If so, DO THE PR! If not, then you are still a bunch of overprivileged Kennedys that everyone dislikes.

Confrontation 8 years, 5 months ago

Apparently, there are a bunch of posters who didn't get picked. It's okay. They just didn't want you. Get over it!

Jamesaust 8 years, 5 months ago

"...using an apartment complex instead of a frat house as home base."

Maybe not, with the new noise ordinance.

AlexFenton 8 years, 5 months ago

Fraternities can't reproduce, so they have to recruit.

Confrontation 8 years, 5 months ago

It's funny that people like to call these guys all sorts of names. Most frat members do a ton of community service hours. How many non-frat Lawrence citizens do anything to help anyone else? Not many. The minute you stereotype a minority, a homeless person, a woman, a man, or anyone else, the posters complain about others being idiots who stereotype. What about the stereotyping of frat members? Not all of them drink, act like they're better than everyone else, or cause any problems. People who haven't been involved in one of these organizations like to make stupid claims. They are groups of students who live together, perform philanthropic activities, and are surrounded by friends. Don't dislike them because you chose not to join, or because you tried to join and didn't get in. Members in these houses tend to have a higher average G.P.A. and a higher rate of graduation. What's wrong with that? No, I have never been in a frat.

Ken Miller 8 years, 5 months ago

AGAIN - tell me what "philanthropic activities" and "community service" is done by the frats. Sorry, fraternity/sorority car washes where evereyone is 1/2 nekkid and fully drunk, with a portion of the proceeds going to an Anheuser-Busch non-profit doesn't count. And don't give me a line about "higher GPAs." They SHOULD have higher GPAs, since most if not all of them don't have to work part-time to support themselves in college. PROVE to me the greeks are giving back to the community, and I will gladly give them kudos.

jbrittm 8 years, 5 months ago

It's nice of you to stick up for fraternities, Confrontation, but they get a bad rap for a reason.

My brother was in a fraternity for two years. Community service? Nay. The only community service they provided was not urinating in their neighbors' lawns when they were too drunk to walk inside to pee (and this was only during the week - weekends didn't apply).

BDitty 8 years, 5 months ago

I was in a frat for three days my freshman year at KU. They made us mow the yard with hand held blades. Then during lunch we were told to go to Wal-Mart and buy poison ivy cream. When we got back they tried to force us to pick poison ivy with our bare hands. 10 of us walked out. Best decision I every made.

compmd 8 years, 5 months ago

I was proud to spend two years living in-house at my fraternity. community service we did included fundraisers for local charities, habitat for humanity, and participating in the philanthropic events of other greek organizations. if you want grades, this was the house. the pledge class of 2002 had an average of 3.25. These weren't easy classes either, everyone was either in science, engineering, or architecture. This house consistently has excelled in academics. and as far as drunkenness goes, half my pledge class didn't drink.
every group has its bad apples. for the most part, I made great friendships with some truly fantastic people. I am quite confident that those will be friends for life; they are my brothers.

bthom37 8 years, 5 months ago

Wow, this is certainly an amazing article! Who knew that frats had to recruit new members, and not just punch up a few more Abercrombie wearers on their cloning machine?

Confrontation 8 years, 5 months ago

"compmd, and the other half drank 3-4 times as much to make up for it. How many of your pledge class actually graduated? How much actual community service did they do? Very little by most, I'm sure."

Are you really sure? Or, are you just talking about something you know nothing about? Most frats and sororities require their members to perform a certain number of community service hours. They have a higher grad rate than the general population of the university, so who should be stereotyped here? Maybe it's the GDI's (God-damned Independents) who are screwing up too much, drinking too much, and just too stupid to pass their classes. There's another stereotype for you to spread around the web. Just like the people at the Wakarusa Festival---most are good, but there are a few bad apples that make ignorant fools like you stereotype the whole bunch.

justsomewench 8 years, 5 months ago

what's the problem? the combination of hazing, beer, and darwinism doin' a number of them?

justsomewench 8 years, 5 months ago

maybe the newcomers are just intelligent enough to realize that fraternities appear to be bad for your health.

pelliott 8 years, 5 months ago

Oh yeah, lots of community servce, here are my three out of four experiences. First, required community service for rock chalk review. a clean up, showed up for the last 35 min. then teased the three high schoolers who had worked all morning, stuffing the slightly handicapped one in the trash can, spilling the trash they had picked up. I refused to sign the letter, found out later they had initialed it for me. I attempted to complain was told by the council that the faternity had showed up and picked up litter, just they were horsing around. Two, one group community service was to hold a lingerie show, for heart fund. They did this twice, expenses equaled donation, but well they tried, I think they did this twice.

Two frats, volunteered and asked for an assignment for 10 hours. turned out they had used an handicapped plaque wrongly. They combined their community service with their community corrections sentence. I at least got to assign them to help a dear old lady who , she had no idea of their mischief, who told them a long story of the hell she went through when someone stole her sticker, how hard it was for her to get another letter from her doctor, arrange a ride, get into the courthouse and get a replacement. It took her weeks. They didn't spend one minute extra even though their task was only one hour from being done after two days of a 5 hour shift. One group showed up, set up tables, interacted with the groups, did a good job of clean up and then left. It was nice. The culture is sick, some nice people, some jerks, but the culture is ill. Any real attempt at cleaning up their acts and adult behavoir seems to be swallowed by the exhaust of their suvs.

devilsrighthandman 8 years, 5 months ago

I spent my college life in a fraternity and do see both sides of this. There is always someone in organizations that will do stupid things and and cause simple minded people to judge the whole. I agree that some posts here are as stereotypical!! I don't really like the greek system as a whole, but I did meet a lot of great people and made a lot of professional connections. We did our philanthropy with natural ties, worked in the community and yes we drank beer. Who didn't in college? I got my degree with ok grades but would not have traded the experience. My main concern is that some of you learned nothing in school to put down a group that you may not fully understand.

compmd 8 years, 5 months ago

One.

That is the number of members of my class that dropped out and disappeared. everyone else has either graduated and is in industry or research, pursuing higher degrees, or still in school. Remember, there are 5 and 6 year BS programs.

You can't expect to pass engineering classes if you're drunk all the time. most people have a hard enough time getting through them sober and studying all the time. engineers spend days in learned without leaving. architects spend days in marvin without leaving. I saw my fair share of sunrises from learned in my senior design lab. there is a responsibility to succeed, and my brothers have done so.

a lot of volunteering was done with natural ties. every week we would have a developmentally disabled KU FO worker come by for dinner. Several of us helped him out around his apartment, helped him move, took him out to shoot pool or go bowling, and take care of him when he needed us. I've shared many laughs with him as well as some tears. We really are his best friends; we might as well be family.

You don't know any of this because it isn't news. it isn't sensational or scandalous. its people working together to be successful, and helping others.

I'm sorry I couldn't get back to you sooner. after dinner I had packed up my laptops for travel this weekend, so I'm posting from my cell phone.

I hope that the next time some of you see a "frat boy" walking down the street you won't be so quick to judge him.

kingdork44 8 years, 5 months ago

Yes, People do tend to stereotype these young Men. Don't knock it unless you've tried it. I myself was employed by a fraternity for a few years and I can tell you it was quite interesting. Was it perfect? No. But I did see a brothership I had never experienced before. Yes I'm sure that most of them turned out alright. I had a great time and still remain in contact with some of them.

scottjp 8 years, 5 months ago

oscarfactor, your thoughts about people just being half naked and having a drunkfest are rediculous. You have no clue what actually goes on do you? Many philanthropies raise thousands of dollars each year thanks to KU's Greek system, fraternities and sororities. The biggest of which was Rock Chalk Review when I was at KU. Others were things such as bowling tourneys, mud volleyball, football, a 5K, pie games...I believe my fraternity raised a couple of thousand dollars to go to a charity that helps disabled kids. Is two thousand dollars a lot? Not really, but that is two thousand more that this charity has now than they did before to let these kids have a little fun and hopefully lead a better life. I realize other greek organizations raise quite a bit more than this in a lot of cases. I think Rock Chalk raises about 25K every year if I'm right...is this giving back to the community? You bet it is! I don't want your kudos, I just don't want you to talk about things you have no clue about in a negative light. As far as GPA, your statement about greek members not having to work is meritless. I worked part time for the university, other people i knew worked for hardware stores, clothing stores, the movie theater, restaurants...don't think just because someone is in a fraternity or sorority that they have more money than people that are not. One reason I picked where I did and other friends chose to be in a fraternity(different ones) is because several of them are cheaper to live in than the dorms.

Observer, Your statements are purely ignorant. just because someone doesn't drink doesn't mean that other people have to drink more. I don't know how many people in compmd's pledge class graduated, but mine was probably somewhere about 90-95% starting with a GPA of somewhere around 3.2 or so and probably ending with slightly below that as classes got harder, but I can guarantee that it was at or very slightly below a 3.0. You say that 90-95% is still not 100%...well...I'm sure it's better than the university average. One person that is in the 5-10% got kicked out because of drugs...we gave him the option to get help and did not want it, so we did not want him. You have already had your kids go through college, and I cannot tell you how to raise them, but I think your attitude toward paying for college for them if they didn't join a fraternity is absurd.

maghayan08 8 years, 5 months ago

Dear Readers/Bloggers,

My name is Mike Aghayan. I accompanied Sophia during Formal Rush, and I though she did a decent job covering the event.

As for the fraternity cynics, your perception of fraternities is rather distorted. You seem to feast off the negatives, and down play the positives. When you hear "fraternity" you think of that drunk guy who is pissing the remnates of Natural Light in your lawn, the endless partying, the obnoxious guys who get in fights, hazing, etc. Yet you seem not to notice the charity events, community service ( which really does happen), positive social events, and really cool men that come out of fraternities at the end of their collegiate career. I know a lot of successfull "frat guys" who are now doctors, lawyers, businessmen, academics.

I will admit that a percentage of fratnerity men do fit the bill. But i plead with you to not stereotype an institution because of a few negatives, or people you may have come into contact with. I know many members who have academically challenging majors, study relentlessly, give alot of thier time to the community, are not drunk ( in fact i know of a handfull that choose not to drink), are guys of the highest caliber, etc.

You cynics are stereotyping far too much. Much like the "black man" or " the white guy" etc, you are looking at them as an object- " the frat guy" and not really seeing them for thier subjectivity- real flesh and blood human beings with hopes, aspirations, goals, needs- who will go on after college to do great things. Perhaps if you put forth the effort to really understand them, instead of dismissively passing judgement, your perceptions might be different.

Your perception is reality. Mike Agayan

scottjp 8 years, 5 months ago

Bob, the president of ATO is probably just pissed off because they got caught for hazing and were kicked out or put on probation one a few years back. Either way, they lost their house and are now trying to rebuild (which i applaud them for doing seeing as they were not the ones involved priorly). He knows hazing went on about 8 years ago or so when that happend, but cannot speak for everyone at this point in time. If your definition of hazing is making the freshmen in the house clean the bathrooms while the older guy vacuums the hallway floors, then I guess my fraternity hazed too. I don't see it this way. As long as everyone is doing something to help out, and no physical abuse or mental demeaning is coming out of it, working your way up in ranks does not define hazing. You have to start at the low end when you get out of school...it's the same thing...what's your definition?

scottjp 8 years, 5 months ago

Yes bob i understand what the university thinks hazing is. With that, nothing I was ever involved in could be considered hazing nor was it. I didn't ask for the IFC policy, I asked what you think hazing is and if you believe the examples I stated above are hazing.

scottjp 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm sorry observer, but you are ignorant as all hell. That is not what fraternities are set up for and I'm sorry you feel that way. Not because i give a damn what you think, but that there are people as f'ing stupid in the world as you that have to be put up with.

justsomewench 8 years, 5 months ago

at least you guys know when to let it go.

don't take yourself too seriously, folks. it's a fraternity, not a cure for cancer.

poolman 8 years, 5 months ago

I am in a fraternity at KU. I will not say which one however.

I rushed in fraternities with hesitation. I have heard of the stereotypes, but deciding to see it for myself, i decided to rush.

It has changed my life.

Everyone in my pledge class averaged 40 hours of community service. We did everything from working in the soup kitchen, to cleaning up highways, to working with United Way, and Habitat for Humanity. I myself have helped build three homes during the school year. We read to kindergartners, help run fundraisers for the homeless shelter, and help out at the local animal shelter, wherever they need a few extra hands.

No matter how much community service we do, people will always stereotype us. There shouldn't be a need to publicize all the good we do when people are going to call us liars and wrong-doers anyway. The organizations we help know how much we do, and thats all the publicity we need.

Just for reference, 39 of our US presidents have been in fraternities, which have helped to shape the way America is today.

We do our part...how much have YOU done for your community?

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