Fraternity will be sovereign on campus again

Samantha Donegan

Phi Delta Theta set to rebound from past bad behavior and reputation

After three years of trying to triumph over past members’ bad behavior and reputation, the current members of Phi Delta Theta will finally become a chartered fraternity on campus again in December.

The fraternity is currently at colony status, which means it is in the process of petitioning to become a chapter and initiated into the national fraternity organization.

Phi Delta Theta national headquarters dismantled the fraternity from the university in 2005 for bad behavior.

Phi Delta Theta member Michael Moore was one of the first brothers to come in after everything was dismantled.

“Our house is not allowed to have alcohol and they had alcohol in the house,” Moore said. “They had a fundraiser and raised money for cancer and bought alcohol with it. They had their utilities shut off because they weren’t paying their bills. Their GPAs were almost non-existent. It was just in horrible shape.”

Starting in 1997, Phi Delta Theta made it a national policy that all its fraternity houses remain alcohol-free.

National officials from headquarters came to conduct interviews with every brother to decide who would be allowed to stay after complications with members attending national conferences. After the interviews, 30 members were dismissed, leaving eight. Four of those eight members quit soon after.

Usually when officials shut down a chapter, they sell the house and do not allow the fraternity to come back to the university for four years so everybody who was in the chapter will have graduated.

“There was still a group of us that really want to keep this alive,” Moore said. “So our headquarters decided that they were going to try something new and let them keep colony status.”

Jim Flores, former Phi Delta Theta president, was one of the brothers who spoke with headquarters in 2005 to keep Phi Delta Theta from leaving Kent. When he entered the fraternity, it was letting people in just to increase numbers – a cause of many of its problems.

“It’s a misguiding goal of fraternities on that campus to have the largest number of guys and to try to have the largest fraternity,” Flores said. “We were letting people in to get the numbers instead of looking at the quality of the individual.”

National headquarters made several trips to the university between 2003 and 2005 to check on the fraternity and to monitor the situation.

“We knew that they were watching,” Flores said. “The gentlemen who came up from leadership are not stupid men, and they sensed that something was going on in terms of how the fraternity was holding itself. They had suspicions.”

Flores said a turning point was in Spring 2005. Phi Delta Theta was having open-drinking parties in the house where there was no security or risk management. They were letting anyone come in the front door, including a representative from headquarters who happened to be in the area visiting Akron.

Turning around

“I think that the chapter has rebounded well,” said Teniell Trolian, assistant director for Greek Affairs. “They’ve got some really high-quality men in the chapter, and they are doing what they are supposed to be doing over there.”

With a charter, the fraternity will be able to run for positions on Interfraternity Council. Its members are striving to get more of an alumni base and had their first homecoming here since they restarted this year. They received the most improved fraternity award two years ago.

Phi Delta Theta moved back into its $2 million house on Fraternity Circle in August, which had been leased out to the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority for three years while the fraternity rebuilt itself.

“We could have went to any fraternity on campus and got right in,” Moore said. “But this is something we could make our own. Everyone else was already established. We got to create our own bylaws and create our own pledge program and build everything from the ground up.”

According to Phi Delta Theta’s national Web site, some of the requirements to receive a charter for Phi Delta Theta are that a colony must have at least 35 members, be in the top 1/3 of fraternities academically on campus and submit progress reports.

Right now there are 26 members and 14 pledges.

To become an official fraternity on campus, the university requires that the group register like any other student organization and its members adhere to all the policies. Every national organization, however, has different policies for charters.

The fraternity has already sent in a petition to get its charter back. The ceremony is the second weekend in December. Moore said President Lester Lefton and distinguished fraternity alumni are expected to attend.

“We are the only fraternity that is growing at a rate of 12 percent a year, whereas every other fraternity is actually dropping,” Moore said. “As far as pledges go, we have one of the biggest classes of all the fraternities with 14.”

Contact Greek life reporter Samantha Donegan at [email protected].