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New chapters offer alternative Greek experience

By Allison Rolish

Lehigh will welcome its first two non-residential fraternities, Delta Chi and Pi Kappa Alpha, as part of the Greek community this spring.

"We are excited," said Tim Wilkinson, director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. "We think bringing new options to Lehigh only enhances the current Greek experience."

While non-residential fraternities are new to Lehigh, who has a more traditional Greek community, these types of chapters are common in the Northeast, Wilkinson said

The two fraternities were chosen by Lehigh's Greek Expansion Committee earlier this academic year in October, after being narrowed down to five finalists.

The other finalists included Phi Delta Theta, Zeta Psi, and Pi Lambda Phi fraternities.

Wilkinson said the committee was looking for a balance of alumni support, an organized and experienced international headquarters, experience with non-residential chapters, a detailed expansion plan and an understanding of Lehigh's accreditation process and strengthening Greek life plans.

"All five of the finalists are great fraternities," Michelle M. Rebholz, a Greek Life Coordinator, said, "but the Expansion Committee felt that Pi Kappa Alpha and Delta Chi would be the best suited for success at this time."

The office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs is working to raise awareness of the new fraternities across campus. They will be sponsoring two information sessions during the week of Jan. 26, Rebholz said.

"These sessions will be very general and focus more on what it means to be a 'founding father' of a fraternity and how the colonization process works," Rebolz said.

The fraternities will have representatives on campus starting Feb. 14, who will be stationed at the student centers. They will solicit names of non-affiliated men from faculty, staff, alumni, student organizations, sororities, athletic teams and more, Rebholz said.

"The most common technique used by new groups is to reach out to men who have not found the current fraternity experience for them," Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said both Delta Chi and Pi Kappa Alpha will have professional staff members on campus for six weeks to help promote the chapters, organize recruitment and assist in the initial organization stages. These staff members will work in conjunction with local alumni from each chapter.

Bob Buckheit, '09, president of the Interfraternity Council, said existing fraternities are happy to welcome and expand Greek life.

"Over the past ten years Lehigh has lost, on average, one fraternity a year," Buckheit said. "As part of our Greek Community Expectations developed by fraternity chapter presidents, we set a goal of expansion for this year and we are happy that the Greek community will see the first growth in has seen in years. Overall, this expansion serves to make the Lehigh greek community a more inclusive one, opening up new opportunities to a new subset of the Lehigh population," Buckheit said. "The reaction to expansion has been overwhelmingly popular."

Buckheit also sees the addition of non-residential fraternities as a learning experience for Lehigh.

"It challenges the dogma of a 'Chapter House Fraternity' and redefines Lehigh's interpretation of a fraternity," he said. "Current residential fraternities will be able to learn and adapt to the entry of non-residential fraternities which will continue to drive the change in Greek culture toward one based on value-based recruitment, as well as gleaning new advertising and marketing techniques."

While they are welcome in the Greek community, there is no guarantee or priority in the near future to make Delta Chi or Pi Kappa Alpha residential, Wilkinson said.

"The intent is to create something lasting, not to create a 'feeder system' for the Hill," he said.

"It is understood by the alumni and headquarters staff, that the intention of non-residential chapters is to grow the fraternity and sorority community in a way that appeals to those looking for a different type of fraternity experience," he said.

The plan is to watch over these two fraternities before considering inviting other non-residential chapters to the campus.

The Greek system-wide assessment committee meets annually to assess the current living climate of the fraternity and sorority community, Wilkinson said. "Right now the committee is focused on supporting these two chapters and allowing them to grow," he said.

If these two fraternities prove to be successful, there will be consideration to bring on more non-residential chapters, Wilkinson said.