Fraternity strives to restore its place in greek life at U

Pi Kappa Alpha is striving to establish itself after a long absence from campus.

by Vadim Lavrusik

Chronos, the Greek god of time, might have worked his hand in bringing a greek brotherhood back to campus.

Pi Kappa Alpha, better known as Pike, had been absent from the University greek system since late 1999 after 80 years of being on campus because of low membership, said Shawn Hutcherson, senior director of recruitment for Pi Kappa Alpha’s international headquarters.

But the fraternity has returned to try again.

Vince Drieling and Eric Miller, consultants for Memphis-based Pike, will be on campus for the next five weeks recruiting “scholars, leaders, athletes and gentlemen” to take part in re-establishing the fraternity on campus. Three students have joined thus far.

Drieling and Miller said the University is an important place for Pi Kappa Alpha.

“Even our colors are, coincidentally, the same as the University’s,” Drieling said.

The University has room for growth in the greek community, Drieling said.

“Ultimately we (would) like to set a new standard for quality of greek life on campus, essentially raise the bar,” Drieling said.

Mark Peterson, vice president of public relations for the Interfraternity Council, said the new fraternity is good for the greek community.

“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for students who haven’t gotten the opportunity yet to join the greek system and may have missed out in joining early in fall with some of the other fraternities,” Peterson said.

He said Pi Kappa Alpha has a strong headquarters, which can provide leadership consultation for other fraternities besides its own members. There are currently 22 social fraternities on campus.

Right now, Pike is a colony, a precursor to becoming a chapter.

Those who join are recognized by the international organization as members of a colony and are not initiated into the fraternity until they are chartered as a chapter.

Members of the colony must set goals before they apply to become a chapter, which requires an international organization vote, Drieling said.

The change could take six months or more than a year, Drieling said.

Pike officials are recruiting members by asking alumni, coaches and faculty members for students they believe are “quality” and would be interested in joining a new fraternity.

“We want to avoid the perception that this is strictly a social organization,” Drieling said.

“From our standpoint, the social aspects of the fraternity take a backseat to more of the leadership development and college experiences we provide for our members.”

Pi Kappa Alpha boasts the largest average chapter size in North America for the last 12 years at 68 members, Hutcherson said.

Pike has 205 chapters, four of which are in Canada, he said.

The organization had a chapter at the University for 80 years until its suspension in 1999 and formal closure in 2000, Hutcherson said.

The international organization recommended the chapter be suspended and eventually closed because of its “inept ability to recruit and growing debt to headquarters due to their small size,” Hutcherson said.

Members voted to revoke the chapter’s charter at Pike’s 2000 national convention.

Hutcherson said he hopes the colony will become a chapter and develop some sort of longevity at the University.

“The University of Minnesota is a large academic institution that fits our criteria and there are a lot of Pike alumni in the area who want to take part in helping the organization,” he said.

Drieling said the former chapter lived in the house Omega Nu Alpha currently occupies at 1813 University Ave. S.E. However, Pi Kappa Alpha’s international organization still owns the house and is leasing it to Omega Nu Alpha.

If the Pi Kappa Alpha colony becomes a chapter, it’s likely it will return to that location, Drieling said.

Philosophy junior Bryan Norman joined the new colony earlier this week after a friend recommended it.

“It wasn’t that the other fraternities weren’t appealing, more so because I thought it would be cool to be part of starting up a new fraternity,” Norman said.

Pi Kappa Alpha caught Norman’s attention because “they are big on being gentlemen and trying to get rid of frat stereotypes,” he said.