A New Colony
National social fraternity Pi Kappa Phi is currently engaged in a “re-colonization” at Old Dominion University and is looking for founding fathers to introduce a chapter back to the lion’s den.
The chapter was previously founded at ODU in the 1940’s but dissolved at the turn of the century due to a history of disregarding risk-management policy, according to Clint Carlisle and Nicholas Prichodko, leadership consultants for the fraternity.
Carlisle and Prichodko have been trying to recruit new members from all areas of the university for the new ODU chapter, Gamma Beta, and are seeking committed and involved students and leaders.
Transforming the Stigma
As freshman, Carlisle and Prichodko never even thought of joining a fraternity. Carlisle’s brother was expelled from his fraternity, giving him a fair share of unsavory predispositions toward Greek life.
“To say I had a negative view of fraternities is an understatement,” said Carlisle.
They recognize there is a certain stigma associated with fraternities, one they formerly felt was accurate, but now he and Prichodko are among the most distinguished of Pi Kappa Phi’s and only wish to extend the same opportunities they’ve been given. However, the two come bearing a unique opportunity for Monarchs. Those who pledge Pi Kappa Phi in the coming fall semester will have a chance to build a chapter entirely of their own.
“Our goal is to redefine ‘fraternity,’” said Carlisle. “We’re looking for guys that would have never thought of being in a fraternity. Maybe they didn’t find their fit or maybe they’re not ok with the current stereotype…those are the type of guys that work for best for us because those are the kind of guys that really want to change what Greek life is and how it operates on this campus.”
Pi Kappa Phi has its roots in challenging the status quo. When three sultry to-be-founders became fed up with student politics being run exclusively by fraternities, they decided to level the playing field.
The three friends founded Nu Phi, meaning “non-fraternity,” to attain leadership roles within the Chrestomathic Literary Society at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, but their efforts were discomfited by some disloyal members. The remaining seven men reconvened in December 1904, founding a new group, Pi Kappa Phi.
A Multifarious Fraternity
One could say the endeavors of that triumvirate were merely a means of securing a role on the political stage of their school, but one could also argue there was a greater ideal behind their actions–diversity. Such is a vital vertebra in the backbone of the fraternity.
“We like to be well-rounded, especially in recruitment,” said Prichodko. “That’s what we stress to different chapters… is to not set a quota on each ‘type’ of member. Don’t just recruit the athletes; don’t just recruit the people that love philanthropy. Get all of that so it’s a well-rounded chapter.”
Having spent a great deal of time traveling to different chapters all around the country, Carlise and Prichodko have gotten to experience the meaning of diversity through engaging with their distant brothers. For Carlisle, true diversity is “when you can have the star of the football team and… the president of the chess club all in the same room and the thing that unites you is your letters, those values and traditions.”
“In the end, if you’re in an organization that is filled with the exact same people as you, what do you learn about yourself? What do you learn about the community and the world that you live in?” Carlisle said.
The national fraternity likewise shares this sentiment of unquestioned diversity, encouraging their members to seek new brothers of all backgrounds. According to the national fraternity’s website, Pi Kappa Phi is “seeking always to exemplify the value of empathy, kindness, compassion and understanding.”
The fraternity’s core mission is leadership and directly correlates with its foundation. It strives to create opportunities for its members to lead. While not every member may get a chance to fill a position within the fraternity, every member gets a chance to sound their voice and engage in guiding the direction of the chapter.
“We just want guys to know that you don’t need a title to lead,” said Carlisle. “You can lead in any aspect of your life, regardless of a title.” Pi Kappa Phi believes this is what makes men of C.L.A.S.S. (Character, Leadership, Achievement, Scholarship, Service).
Those joining the new chapter in the fall will be appointed to a position on the executive council. One doesn’t have to be a natural born leader to join Pi Kappa Phi but may emerge as one through their experience. The only prerequisite is the desire to aspire.
“We want you to be a leader and if you don’t feel like you are or have those abilities, we will help you,” said Carlisle.
One way Pi Kappa Phi reinforces this is by requiring members to become involved in another organization. Brothers can choose whatever organization they want, so long as they are leading in some capacity.
Pi Kappa Phi stresses the importance of excelling in one’s studies. The fraternity requires members to maintain a 2.5 grade point average. Failure to meet this requirement will result in the revocation of certain privileges, like social events and activities.
“Greek organizations are a supplement to your college career. You’re here for your academics and that’s number one,” said Carlisle.
Study groups were the default method of exercising brothers academically, but the fraternity realizes individuals have individual ways of studying. It strives to create individualized attention through academic advisors and exploring school resources to promote success.
“We are constantly trying to provide resources and do everything we can to make sure they are achieving,” said Carlisle. The fraternity’s biggest question for its members is, “how can we make you succeed?”
Pi Kappa Phi is heavily involved in giving back to the community, particularly through their charitable non-profit organization, Push America. Push America was founded by Pi Kappa Phi in 1977 and raises money to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities.
The organization hosts a number of national events every year, one of which is the Journey of Hope, a 4,100 mile cross-country bicycle ride. Another notable event is Build America, a travelling construction team that visits camps around the country to help children with disabilities.
Pi Kappa Phi is the only fraternity to raise more than $15 million for a single charitable organization, Push America. Other accolades include the “Laurel Wreath Award” presented by the North-American Interfraternity Conference, the “Gold Crown Award” and the “Educational Excellence Award” presented by the Association of Fraternity Advisors, among many others.
Hoisting the Sail
This “re-colonization” bears with it an opportunity not many are given. Carlisle and Prichodko only want to see the ship sail off well and bid the new members bon voyage.
“We want you to grow through this experience and everything Pi Kappa Phi has to offer,” said Carlisle.
Carlisle and Prichodko will be on campus until March 3 hosting information sessions every Tuesday and Thursday in the Board of Visitors room for interested new brothers. The meetings will begin at 7:04 p.m. and will run until Feb. 28. This time may seem obscure, but it represents the year of the fraternity’s founding. The fraternity uses military time to keep up with meetings, thus 7:04 becomes 19:04. More information and updates can be found on Facebook and Twitter, as well as the national website.
Facebook: Pi Kappa Phi – Old Dominion
By Derek Page