Students wearing shirts donning Chi Phi Greek letters might become a common sight in the upcoming months, as the fraternity has returned to campus after a four-year hiatus. The fraternity will participate in freshman recruitment next semester.
Chi Phi nationals held interest meetings on campus this semester, selecting 12 “founding fathers” for the colony, which is a “designation for a start-up fraternity,” according to Sahil Patel, a member of the Gamma Trust Foundation and an Emory Chi Phi alumnus (’00B) who has been working with the University since last year on Chi Phi’s return.
The fraternity will likely regain its charter in the next three or four semesters, but in the interim, it is working on recruiting upperclassmen before freshman rush next semester, said Panos Kanellakopoulos, College junior and newly appointed Chi Phi president. The fraternity now consists of 26 upperclassmen after three separate recruitment efforts, Patel said.
“We’re in the beginning stages of kind of setting a foundation in terms of what we want next semester’s rush to look like, but also what we want the fraternity to look like in five, 10, 20 years down the line,” Kanellakopoulos said.
The national Chi Phi organization revoked the Emory chapter’s charter in 2009 for alleged recruitment violations and a history of alcohol infractions. Chi Phi nationals asked the University at that time to permit the fraternity to return to Emory in 2011 or 2012.
Officials from the national organization attempted to verify Chi Phi’s return in October 2011, giving presentations at Interfraternity Council (IFC) General Body meetings regarding how Chi Phi’s return would benefit Emory. The IFC General Body, however, voted last fall to reject Chi Phi’s return, which one General Body member attributed to the competition surrounding fraternity housing each year.
The IFC General body did approve Chi Phi’s return this spring, though, after members from nationals consulted with the current and former IFC presidents and Dean of Students Bridget Riordan about “what the issues were and the best way to engage” with the IFC General Body and giving additional presentations to members of IFC, Patel said in a March 26 Wheel article.
Chi Phi, which is one of Emory’s oldest fraternities, owns the house on Eagle Row currently occupied by Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity under the Phoenix Plan, which provides fraternities with long-term housing through signed agreements. However, IFC President and Goizueta Business School senior Victor Rudo wrote in an email that he does not believe Chi Phi will seek to occupy the house next fall.
Patel agreed, noting, “We’re not going to have enough guys to fill the house, and it wouldn’t be financially responsible for us to live in it.”
Regardless, since the vote this past spring, IFC and the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life (OSFL) worked closely with Chi Phi alumni and the fraternity’s national headquarters to “formulate a clear plan for their return,” Rudo wrote. This plan includes Chi Phi’s plans to recruit new members, the timing of these efforts – since upperclassman rush takes place in the fall and freshman recruitment in the spring – and “establishing a vision for the new chapter.”
Megan Janasiewicz, the OSFL director, was not available for comment by press time.
In recruiting the Emory chapter’s founding fathers, the national organization and Chi Phi alumni hired a consultant Tom Healy of the organization CampusPeak – an organization that provides educational speakers and workshops, according to its website – who is also a nationally recognized recruitment specialist.
The group of students that Healy and the other parties involved selected then elected their first officers, including a chapter president and vice president, according to Rudo.
“It seemed like an entrepreneurial experience,” Kanellakopoulos said. “It seemed like a way for high-quality guys to get together and form an organization that they feel lives up to the highest possible standards. We’re starting something from scratch, something that will be big and great.”
Recruitment and planning for rush and events next semester are currently the main priorities of the colony, he noted, adding that members are focusing on the short-term as well as “building a foundation” to ensure Chi Phi’s success in the long term.
“We’ve been recruiting upperclassmen to hit the ground running and get everything going,” Kanellakopoulos said.
Chi Phi now also has representation at weekly IFC General Body meetings.
Kanellakopoulos added that Chi Phi is undergoing “rolling recruitment,” where the fraternity consistently looks for new members who they feel would fit the “visions, goals and attitudes of Chi Phi.”
In addition, colony members have been meeting consistently with members of the national headquarters and alumni. Allen Shih (’00B), a Chi Phi alumnus, said alumni have also played a role in fundraising and with planning events for next semester for Chi Phi brothers.
“There’s a lot of stuff in terms of personal development that we’re putting together,” Shih said, which includes a career and rÃ©sumÃ© workshop for the spring.
As Chi Phi members, alumni and national organization officials continue their efforts to rebuild Chi Phi on Emory’s campus, Kanellakopoulos said he looks forward to beginning freshman recruitment this spring.
“We’re looking for guys,” he said. “We’re back, and we’re ready to roll.”
– By Jordan Friedman
Photography by Jason Lee