‘A frat without a home’

Alex Nowak

By Kali Bhandari

Pi Kappa Phi is not a business or engineering organization. It’s not a service or honors society. It’s a social fraternity without a house -a tenable house, anyway – which makes recruitment for this newly recolonized fraternity a bit difficult.

“(It) makes it hard for us because we don’t have a central location,” said Mark Peluse, Upsilon chapter chaplain and junior in business. “On the plus side, we don’t run the risk of having a bunch of guys wanting to join us just because we have a great house.”

So how does a frat that was shut down by the national organization and recolonized three years later go about finding new members?

“We recruit,” said Chris Jones, recruitment chair and sophomore in LAS.

Chapter president Adam Nekola, Illini Media employee and junior in communications, added, “There’s a difference between recruiting and rushing – when you rush, you just have the chapter waiting at the house for new members; when you recruit, you actively go out and look for quality men.”

“Quality men” seems to be the catch phrase among members of this fraternity. Jones explained that the slogan is “Men of C.L.A.S.S.,” and the word C.L.A.S.S. stands for character, leadership, academics, sportsmanship and service, which is exactly the kind of characteristics the fraternity is looking for.

After attending Quad Day and holding information sessions, Pi Kapps are now looking around in their classes and to their friends’ friends for new members, Jones said.

“But anyone interested can come out, its not just people we know,” Nekola said.

Before recruitment could take place this fall, the Upsilon chapter had to go through a rebuilding process. Peluse explained that three years after the chapter was closed down due to low recruitment numbers, members of the national fraternity came to the University in hopes of starting a chapter once again. Peluse said that they went to sororities on campus because nationals assumed the sororities would know where to find “good men.”

Thirty-five men were inducted into the new chapter without a constitution or any laws whatsoever and were told to build up the Pi Kappa name once again. Not only did then-president Peluse and other members have to make up a new constitution, but another major problem was the chapter house was falling in on itself due to poor construction and would have to be demolished and built again – from the ground up.

The next problem the chapter encountered was that the bonds of brotherhood were not yet strong enough.

“Nationals came down in February 2003, and nobody really had time to form strong bonds before summer,” Peluse said. “We had a lot of negativity over the summer, and some guys just lost faith.”

A de-pledging process that dwindled the chapter numbers to 20 led to a renewed emphasis on brotherhood, Peluse said.

“We just wanted to focus on the brotherhood first, so when we recruited another seven guys in spring 2004, we had an intensive bonding process,” Peluse said.

The chapter was then ready for Fall 2004 recruitment. Once the new members are recruited, the plan is to make them undergo intensive new member education and brotherhood.

“We want to make them just as tight with everyone as old members,” Jones said. “I joined in spring (2004) and I feel like one of the guys.”

Nekola said that the next goal was to get a charter from the national fraternity in January. Other events until then would include P.U.S.H. week – Pledge Units for the Severely Handicapped.

“We are the only fraternity in the nation with our own philanthropy,” Peluse said. “P.U.S.H. is more than just helping the severely handicapped, it’s expanded (from its inception in the 1970s) into doing things for people with disabilities.”

P.U.S.H. week is from Oct. 17-23 this year, and includes dodgeball and kickball tournaments as well as Hug-a-Pi Kapp night, Peluse said.

However, those are just the short-term aims for the chapter. Peluse said the chapter had the fifth-highest grade point average on campus, and one of its aims was to earn the highest. But the most important goal, Jones said, is to “become the best frat on campus.”

“We want to raise the bar for being a fraternity on campus – we’re selling a product we made ourselves, and we want to be the most respected frat by both sororities and fraternities, have the most guys, raise the most money for philanthropy,” Jones said.

Jones said the fraternity is different from other fraternities.

“The difference is that we’re fraternity men, not frat boys,” he said.