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University fraternity combines professionalism, social life inside exclusive chapter house

The+Alpha+Rho+Chi+House%2C+a+co-ed+Professional+Fraternity+modeled+after+the+Red+House+in+Bexleyheath%2C+England.
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University fraternity combines professionalism, social life inside exclusive chapter house

The Alpha Rho Chi House, a co-ed Professional Fraternity modeled after the Red House in Bexleyheath, England.

The Alpha Rho Chi House, a co-ed Professional Fraternity modeled after the Red House in Bexleyheath, England.

Nikitha Gajula | The Daily Illin

The Alpha Rho Chi House, a co-ed Professional Fraternity modeled after the Red House in Bexleyheath, England.

Nikitha Gajula | The Daily Illin

Nikitha Gajula | The Daily Illin

The Alpha Rho Chi House, a co-ed Professional Fraternity modeled after the Red House in Bexleyheath, England.

By Abby Paeth, Staff Writer

Just a short way down First Street sits a burgundy colored brick house with three sets of patio doors. Six green shutters and one front tower create the entryway, mimicking a similar house in Bexleyheath, England known as the Red House.

The house belongs to Alpha Rho Chi, or APX, a professional architecture fraternity. But it’s this house that sets the professional fraternity apart from the others. APX is the only professional fraternity on campus to own an official chapter house.

“It’s a place for us to come together, to hang out and to bond. That gives us the opportunity to experience what brotherhood is,” said Abby Valek, junior in FAA.

This house also represents the fraternity’s passion for architecture, according to the fraternity’s website. The Red House in England for which the building is modeled after represents the ideas of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which took place in the 1800s. The creation of APX was assisted by Dr. Nathan Clifford Ricker, University alumnus and former professor who contributed to the design of Altgeld Hall and was later recognized by the fraternity as a master architect. Ricker was the first person in the United States to earn a degree in Architecture.

“We live in a place that has been personally designed indirectly by architects that we study, and I think that is a really unique aspect,” said Nate Mollway, sophomore in FAA.

Alpha Rho Chi currently has 31 members, both male and female. Five people are currently living in the house this year.

“It brings an interesting perspective because we do have boys and girls,” Valek said.

Mollway said being part of a fraternity that is both professional and social is the best of both worlds. He said that being able to bond over a common love of architecture has strengthened the relationships that he has made during his time at APX.

“It’s introduced me to long-term professional (relationships) but also friendly relationships,”  Mollway said. “I’ve never had to live with, work with and be around the same professional people but then switch sides and see a more social side of them.”

Yazmine Carbajal, sophomore in FAA, said she had a difficult time adjusting after changing her major from engineering to industrial design. She looked to APX for guidance.

“It was a hard transition for me going from a completely different major. It was nice to have a support system,” Carbajal said. “We all do homework together, and we all help each other out. I don’t feel as stressed out as I used to.”

Carbajal said being in APX helps keep her motivated to succeed in school because the majority of her friends are working on the same thing. She said they help bounce ideas off of each other, keep on track with assignments and reference older members when they need help.

But Carbajal said it’s important to understand where the line is drawn between both the professional and social sides of the fraternity.

“You can be a really outgoing and fun person but still get serious, which I think is really important because we’re trying to have the social aspect of the fraternity, but we’re pushing for professional,” Carbajal said.

Because the majority of members in APX are architecture majors, active members take similar classes and share many common assignments.

“We definitely keep each other on track,” Valek said. “When it does get stressful, like when there’s a final project or a big exam coming up, we all have the support of each other; we all help each other out and are there for each other. It’s really great to have that support system in college.”

In the past, there have been many cases where APX was at risk of losing their house because of financial incapability.

“There’s been instances where we have almost lost it, and we just keeping fighting,” Carbajal said. “Putting in effort to save the house really helps us connect more and get closer to each other.”

Sophia Galounis, senior in FAA and president of APX, said their financial problems are nothing new to the fraternity. Galounis said, if they ever lose the house, it would be devastating; however, she feels APX’s brotherhood will remain strong with or without it.

“We have been making better strides to fill this house, so that hopefully, we can get out of the financial burden of having so few people,” Galounis said. “As actives, we have always been told by alumni that this is nothing new.”

Mollway said being a member of APX and living in the house this year has definitely pushed him to keep on track with his studies. He said that he has also gained a lot of skills when defending his architecture projects.

“You have to present your project to different students, and they will try to tear it down, and you have to defend it even if it’s wrong or bad. You have to defend it, and you have to be proud of it,” Mollway said. “I feel like I put a lot more purpose behind what I do as a person, not just as a student (because of APX).”

As a senior, Galounis reflects on her time here at the University and as an APX active. She said Alpha Rho Chi has given her some of the closest relationships — ones that she didn’t find in high school. She said that it has given her leadership responsibilities and helped her grow as a person.

“For me, we as a chapter tell pledges to always be proud of their work,” Galounis said. “I think that will definitely carry with me and whatever I do in the work world. I will always remember to be proud of my work, because if I’m not proud of it, nobody else will be.”

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