February 3, 2003

Theta Chi Re-Charters

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The Lambda chapter of Theta Chi is currently being re-chartered on the Cornell campus. The chapter was established in 1912, but shut down in 1999 due to problems regarding hazing and alcohol.

Members of the Theta Chi International Fraternity Headquarters are now recruiting potential members who are interested in “joining [the] fraternity experience but just couldn’t find what they wanted [during formal recruitment],” said Brian Rinker, Theta Chi expansion coordinator.

Members of the Theta Chi headquarters, located in Indianapolis, hope to find a board group of well-rounded men whose interests range from academics to athletics. “[We] met with faculty and administration [and] tried to identify what they do and don’t like about the Greek community and how we can improve that image. [We also] asked them to refer students who were extremely driven in their classes or an organization,” Rinker said.

Mailings were also sent to all eligible men and general information sessions were held to help develop interest and awareness of Theta Chi on campus. The fraternity targets not only freshmen but also sophomores and juniors so that the classes will be fairly even in number.

Theta Chi alumni also serve as a source of publicity for restarting the chapter. There are 1,236 alumni from the Lambda chapter. Alumni and students from nearby chapters, such as the chapter at Syracuse, are asked to recommend any friends or relatives at Cornell who might be interested.

A large part of Theta Chi’s appeal is the opportunity to create an entirely new fraternity.

“[I’m] interested in being a founding member of a brand new frat,” said Peter Gregg ’06. Another perk is the ability to “bypass all the notorious pledge processes,” he added.

A chapter must go through three phases in order to be officially reinstated on campus. Theta Chi is currently working on the first step: developing an interest group whose members are interested students. The group “identifies other students on campus who would be good, [and also develops] standards and laws,” Rinker said.

After this step, the chapter moves onto the colony phase, during which the members work with other organizations on campus and aim to stabilize their membership number. Although a colony is not yet an officially initiated chapter, they still function on campus as a regular fraternity. In the final phase, the chapter petitions to all the other Theta Chi chapters in the country to be accepted. On average, the process takes 12 to 16 months. The Lambda chapter has been “doing very well … we’re really picking up steam,” Rinker said.

The process of re-chartering is not uncommon. The Theta Chi headquarters are endeavoring in similar projects on six other campuses across the country. After the Lambda chapter was shut down, the headquarters decided to wait four to five years before restarting in order to “ensure that former members are no longer on campus,” Rinker said. “We don’t want any old images or impressions; [we want] a clean slate.”

The headquarters were granted permission to come onto campus last spring by the Interfraternity Council (IFC). “With the structure they presented to [us], it seems like they’ll have a lot of support from older people, and other criteria [to follow]; it’s a way to ensure they don’t fall through the cracks,” said Paul El-Meouchy ’04. “I’m really excited that we have another chapter coming back … the more chapters we have on campus, the better the Greek system will be.”

The chapter will re-inhabit its former home on 40 Ridgewood Road. The house is currently undergoing $225,000 worth of renovations, funded by alumni. The property will be alcohol-free, and the chapter will be re-founded with a strict no-hazing policy.

Archived article by Diana Lo