UConn to welcome 12th fraternity
The UConn Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (OFSL), in conjunction with the UConn Interfraternity Council (IFC), announced a plan to add another men's social fraternity to the list of chapters currently on campus in November. The new organization, which has yet to be selected, is scheduled to colonize next semester and will receive full recognition.
The colony will join the ranks of 11 existing chapters, including Alpha Delta Phi, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Beta Theta Pi, Delta Chi, Kappa Sigma, Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Zeta Beta Tau and Zeta Psi.
Greek Life comprises nearly 10 percent of the student body and has experienced a 52 percent membership increase in the last four years. Three previously existing chapters lost their charters between Fall 2004 and Summer 2010, and no structured colonization has taken place since.
While Chi Phi, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Lambda Chi Alpha will have the opportunity to regain recognition within the next few years, OFSL is looking to "slot a new proactive expansion as opposed to just waiting for a previous group with an agreement to…come back," according to Todd C. Sullivan, executive director of the OFSL, in an interview Friday. In short, expansion has been a long time coming.
The goal is to generate "concurrent progress" by bringing in a new organization that will encourage other fraternities to develop as well, Sullivan said.
The IFC is searching for "an organization that's going to make a difference," said Michael Mizrahi, IFC executive president and brother of Alpha Epsilon Pi, Friday. "This is an opportunity to have a group do so well that all the other organizations are going to strive to do better."
Outside organizations find UConn appealing because of the unprecedented strength of its OFSL, the development of effective Greek leadership programs and the success of a new accreditation program requiring all chapters to meet or exceed university standards.
"Our community's really progressing…and fraternities in general have been improving," said IFC Executive Vice President Nick Carroll of Kappa Sigma in an interview Friday. "There's a lot of growth within the fraternities and there's also a lot of growth within Greek Life in general." Carroll hopes expansion will introduce a fresh perspective and bolster the progress already taking place.
The IFC has created an expansion committee to spearhead the process. Members include Mizrahi, Carroll and four undergraduate representatives from Alpha Epsilon Pi, Kappa Sigma and Tau Kappa Epsilon.
The fraternity applicant pool has been reduced to three interested organizations: Delta Tau Delta, Sigma Nu and Phi Gamma Delta. One of the three will be selected to colonize at UConn. Within the past couple weeks, alumni, undergraduate members and representatives from each fraternity's national headquarters have visited Storrs to hold meetings and give presentations, some of which were open to the student body.
The purpose of these visits is to determine how the presence of each fraternity might affect the Greek community and the campus as a whole. The expansion committee and the OFSL aim to ensure that the values and priorities of the incoming organization are "in alignment with the IFC mission, in alignment with the mission of [the OFSL], and really with the institution too," Sullivan said. "One of the ways that we will help determine which group would be the best fit for us...is the ability to identify that overlap and that alignment."
The expansion process empowers undergraduates, utilizing feedback forms at each presentation to gauge the thoughts and feelings of students who attend. The expansion committee reviews these forms and considers them carefully before making its selection. While input from the OFSL is also influential, all decisions are "ultimately in the hands of the IFC Expansion Committee," said Mizrahi, adding that the process is "completely student-based."
The OFSL hopes to announce a final decision at the Greek Life awards banquet on Wednesday.
When asked which of the finalists he would like to see at UConn, Sullivan expressed no strong preference. "If we were not interested in any of these groups, they would not have been invited to campus," he said. "This is all about best fit, and timing, and things like that."
The IFC agrees. "Any of the three finalists… will be great," Mizrahi said. The expansion committee is looking to pin down the fraternity that most closely matches UConn's values and ideals. "Which one is going to integrate the best? Which one is going to succeed in our specific community? … Which one will rise above and be exceptional?" These questions serve as the guidelines for selection, said Mizrahi.
The IFC is looking for "a group that is ready and willing to support their prospective chapter from the day they [colonize]," said Carroll. One of the keys to success is an active presence from national headquarters and local alumni throughout colony development.
The new organization plans to recruit student leaders to help start up the colony. Fraternity representatives are interested in responsible men who want to make a difference and who have already become "involved, invested, and engaged" in the university community, said Sullivan. Perhaps these students are interested in Greek Life but have not yet found a fraternity that corresponds with their priorities, or perhaps they have never considered going Greek but would serve as exemplary founders. The IFC encourages unaffiliated students to consider the benefits of joining a fraternity and the gratification of building an organization from the ground up.
"We feel great. We're very excited and think the process has gone very well," Mizrahi said. The IFC hopes this incoming group will raise the bar for the rest of UConn Greek Life and inspire other organizations to be the best they can be.
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