For the past year, students and faculty have been struggling to define the prevalence and place of Greek life on campus. One fraternity, TKE, has been working on a project with their national chapter and making renovations to their house. Two new colonies, ATP and GQ are working on nationalizing their chapters by the end of this year.
Additionally, each Greek organization will now have a faculty advisor who will guide them throughout the year.
Dean of students and Greek adviser Xavier Romano is also looking at alternatives to Greek life, as the need for other weekend outlets has come up constantly in the debates about expanding Greek life. This year, there will be more programs outside of the Greek community, including an expansion of Union Board activities and other weekend functions.
This year, Romano reports that GPAs for the Greek organizations look strong. He has been working with faculty in order to create a program where a faculty advisor is assigned to each organization to assist them throughout the year.
The advisors would meet with their organizations throughout the term and then with their fellow advisors each term.
“I think it will create a healthy level of dialogue that we just haven’t seen before,” said Romano.
He hopes that the faculty advisors will help to engage the organizations and keep them focused on their purpose on campus. Additionally, he hopes these advisors will “de-mysitfy” Greek life for their colleagues who may be skeptical of the benefits of Greek organizations.
“It’s going to be a very important and organized recruitment season,” said Romano.
“Before the fall term ends, we’ll have a pretty good sense about where both organizations are heading,” said Romano. “They’ve gone through a pretty long process.”
ATP, a sorority colony founded in early 2007, has been gathering members and completing service projects for the past three years. When a moratorium on new Greek organizations met in the April of 2008, they were near meeting the requirements for nationalization.
“We’ve had several generations go through and graduate,” said senior and ATP president Paige Barnum. “We do all the things that other organizations do, essentially to prove our worth.”
The Greek Task Force examined ATP throughout the following year and decided they were qualified to nationalize at the end of the 2008-2009 school year. Despite setbacks, members of ATP are currently looking at national organizations and choosing the ones with whom they would most like to affiliate.
Going through the nationalization process has been challenging for the colony, but Barnum also realizes that they have come together as a result.
“You almost have to wonder if [this process] has been a good thing,” said Barnum. “We’ve learned to be a lot more assertive.”
One of the issues that has faced ATP is their image on campus. At the time of their formation, there were already three sororities and some students and faculty wondered why there was a need for another national sorority.
“It was formed to broaden the choices that were,” said Barnum. “It’s the idea of wanting to be in a like-minded organization with woman who have similar goals.”
For Barnum, who joined as a freshman in 2007, ATP has provided her with the opportunity for leadership positions and bonds with women who she may not have found as a member of an already-existing sorority.
“[Nationalizing] gives you a lot of confidence,” said Barnum. “To actually yield results is very awesome.”
Romano said the girls are now regrouping and focusing on defining themselves as a distinctive group on campus. The colonies have set their sights on a particular image and goals they would like to project around campus, something that older organizations sometimes stray from.
“These are groups that are very well-bonded,” said Romano. “They really do fill a distinctive niche here.”
GQ was founded in late 2007 as an organization friendly to men of diverse cultural backgrounds. Their focus has been on supporting each other through individual struggles and reaching out into the community to share their experiences with a younger generation of men.
This colony was also sidelined during the moratorium and has been given faculty approval to move ahead in the nationalization process.
“Whoever comes here, they really are going to have the incredible fortune of being affiliated with one of our organizations,” said Romano.
After weathering a tough year last year, members of TKE have been focused on new projects for the community.
“TKE has come out the other end of this process a more thoughtful organization, a more mature organization,” said Romano. “Last year, no doubt, was really challenging for them. A lot was learned.”
This past summer, the TKE house was cleaned out and Romano reported that the organization is working on a project with their national chapter, which will be continuing this year.
“[The house] is pretty much a focal point of the campus,” said Max Leitner, TKE president. “We’ll be getting our house in good shape.”
Renovations include refinishing the deck, fixing the bathrooms and improving the TKE basement. All together, the fraternity has spent over $40,000 on the house this year so far.
“It requires a lot of upkeep,” said Leitner.
TKE has also been accepted into a national program that helps them draw a blueprint of their future. They applied for this program last year and only four or five chapters are accepted each year. Often, new chapters use this program to focus their potential service in the community.
“It gives them goals to pursue,” said Leitner. “Many of these things we already had in place.”
Additionally, the fraternity will be working on a new, undisclosed fundraising project involving the campus before the end of this term.
“I think the campus will look forward to it and enjoy it,” said Leitner. “It’s something that Knox hasn’t seen before. Hopefully, we’ll raise a lot of money.”
TKE’s national charity is St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, for which they often donate the money they raise. For now, the group is getting ready for the new recruitment season.
“This year, more than others, we’ve been really focused on having a strong year,” said Leitner. “There are a lot of high quality guys out there.”