Chi Phi trying to reinstate local chapter

By Jill Lowthian

Students interested in joining a Greek fraternity will have a new option when the Chi Phi fraternity returns to the University.

The University’s Sigma chapter of the fraternity closed in 1996 but is in the process of recolonizing on campus.

If successful, the chapter will be a member of the Interfraternity Council, a Greek council on campus that oversees more than 40 fraternities.

The chapter welcomed 12 new members at its New Member Ceremony on Saturday and hopes to recruit more during the remainder of the semester, said Carter Henricks, Chi Phi vice president and sophomore in LAS.

“We’re going to focus this semester on getting a lot of people involved,” Henricks said.

“We’re hoping to get at least somewhere between 20 and 30 members this semester.”

The chapter closed 12 years ago as a result of low membership and members losing sight of the fraternity’s values of truth, honesty and personal integrity, said Nathan Kramer, historian officer for Chi Phi and a junior in LAS.

“The older members at the time were not happy with the direction our chapter was moving in,” Kramer said.

“We wanted our chapter to be different and not the stereotypical drinking chapter, but many of the younger members were seeing it that way.”

The chapter members think that Chi Phi brings a unique opportunity to those students who do not want to be involved in a stereotypical fraternity, Kramer said.

“Fraternities don’t need to be seen as partying and drinking clubs,” Kramer said. “We feel fraternities can be different, so we operate that way.”

Members also hope recruiting will be successful because it will give students an opportunity to be involved in starting something new, Henricks said.

“It’s a unique opportunity because we can shape this (chapter) into what we want it to be,” Henricks said.

The chapter has chosen to informally recruit new members throughout the semester in addition to formal fall and spring recruitment.

The chapter is planning upcoming recruitment events such as playing pool at the Illini Union and a service event with the Boys and Girls Club, the beneficiary of the fraternity’s philanthropy, Henricks said.

Henricks hopes that Chi Phi’s informal approach to recruiting members will attract more students to the fraternity.

“What we do is mostly informal and if somebody doesn’t like it they can leave and just talk to who they want to and mingle,” Henricks said.

Although the fraternity had a chapter house when it was previously at the University, acquiring a house is not something the current chapter is focusing on.

“There’s talk of working with the alumni to eventually get a house, but we’re more worried about our guys getting involved and getting to know each other,” said Michael Orta, the national director of expansion for the fraternity.

Orta has been on campus this semester working with the new chapter during its process of recolonization.

Henricks said he hopes a house is in the fraternity’s future, but also does not see it as a priority.

“We’re focusing on getting the right kind of guys instead of just filling beds,” Henricks said. “We’re more concerned with quality over quantity at this point.”