Fraternities colonize, take one step closer to recognition

The University has the smallest greek community of the Big Ten.

Kaitlin Walker

ItâÄôs a numbers game for the two University of Minnesota fraternities vying for national recognition.

Phi Kappa Sigma and Tau Kappa Epsilon are hoping strong fall recruitment will get them closer to the required member quota and recognition by both the national chapters and the UniversityâÄôs Interfraternity Council.

Adding two more nationally recognized fraternities on campus will help the UniversityâÄôs growing greek community, which remains one of the smallest in the Big Ten with less than 2,000 members.

Both fraternities have received colonization âÄî the first step in a process of becoming a full-fledged member of the national chapter, which can take up to three years.

A fraternity receives colonization after meeting key requirements set out by the national chapter, said IFC Vice President Tom Deahl. He said the fraternities have to meet requirements including philanthropy, recruitment numbers, grades and visibility on campus.

Tau Kappa Epsilon started that process last October when a couple of men from the national chapter arrived on campus.

âÄú[They] were here for about three weeks,âÄù said Brent Stensrude, the chapterâÄôs president. âÄúThey got a few of us together and got us started.âÄù

Stensrude said since receiving colonization the focus has been on membership âÄî both gaining new members and retaining old members.

âÄúWeâÄôre trying to keep all the guys we do have,âÄù Stensrude said. âÄúItâÄôs pretty easy to get burned out.âÄù

Kevin Groenjes, president of Phi Kappa Sigma, said earning colonization proves to the national chapter that the group is serious about becoming nationally recognized.

The fraternity now has to prove that it can thrive on the University campus, Deahl said.

Holding elections for chapter officers was a big step in the right direction, he said.

âÄúBefore we had officers who were filling spots because we needed a leadership figure,âÄù he said. âÄúNow we have the right guys in the right spot and I think itâÄôs going to make us more effective. ItâÄôs going to make our jobs easier.âÄù

The biggest obstacle for both fraternities is membership numbers, Deahl said.

âÄúEverything is in place,âÄù Stensrude said. âÄúReally the only thing weâÄôre waiting for is more men.âÄù

Both Groenjes and Stensrude said they are hoping strong recruitment this fall will solve their problem.

If all goes well, Groenjes said he expects to be fully chartered within the next year.

âÄúA lot of it is going to be recruiting, a lot of it is going to be reaching out to student groups and a lot of it is going to be making sure we hold true to our values,âÄù Groenjes said.

Enrollment in the greek community is on the rise at the University âÄî last yearâÄôs enrollment hit a 20-year high, with more than 1,800 students involved in a fraternity or sorority.

But the University still lags behind the rest of the Big Ten schools. Adding two new chapters is a big positive and means more leadership opportunities for students, Deahl said.

âÄúItâÄôs always good to get more people involved in leadership,âÄù said Deahl. âÄúGetting them involved in one way makes them more likely to get involved in other ways.âÄù