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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Possible second chance for frat

The men of Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) have re-colonized and returned to campus with the intention of bettering Greek life at the University. After having their charter removed in the late 90s, current members have taken steps to ensure that it won’t happen again.

“We left due to some issues internally with the fraternity involving the guys that were in it not making the right life choices that they needed to and just not following what PIKE believes in as a fraternity nationally and locally,” said Charlie Upchurch, vice president of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. “We have to regain our charter again to prove to nationals that we’re really here to be serious about this stuff and this is what we’re going to do and these are the goals we set for ourselves.”

The fraternity returned to campus in October 2003 and the process of regaining their charter has been their focus since day one.

After being back just over a year, members of the PIKE fraternity have already made a significant impact in Greek life at the University.

They not only occupy a house on campus, but they raised tremendous amounts of money to basically revamp the interior of the building.

Where wood paneling once lined the walls of Conklin Unit G, now stands dry wall splashed with soft green paint, and the outdated purple carpet that once covered the building’s first floor no longer exists.

It is very unusual for a chapter that’s only a year old to get a house, said Ron Binder, associate director of residence life and director of Greek affairs.

“We don’t allocate houses very often,” he said. ” We want groups to stay in the houses for a long time.”

Although 34 of the 41 Greek organizations at the University have houses on campus, it’s not essential to their survival as an organization, Binder said.

Proving to the University that members of PIKE deserved the house and could fulfill the responsibility of filling it was not an easy task. They were up against other fraternities, one of them being the Sigma Chi’s who previously lived in the house, Upchurch said.

After presenting their intentions to the University, they were given the house. But problems arose when they had trouble meeting requirements to fill all the rooms in the house.

“We’ve had a lot of setbacks, and one of the setbacks was that over the summer, we went from 49 to 35 guys and the school said understandingly that ‘we can’t afford to have empty rooms sitting open in a fraternity house,'” he said.

With a large portion of the remodeling already begun and the idea of loosing the house lingering in their minds, members of the colony knew they had to find more guys to live in the house if they wanted to keep it, Upchurch said.

“To just have it taken away would be almost an embarrassment to us and a lot of guys were just devastated,” he said. “It was honestly the worst feeling to get a call that says ‘you guys have not met the requirements.'”

Since the fraternity didn’t have enough members at the time to fill all the rooms in the house, the University was going to use it as independent living to ensure that every room was occupied, Upchurch said.

“What we had to do was scrounge up some guys, pull them out of normal dorms, and beg them to just come live in the house so we could keep it,” he said.

The fraternity increased their membership and was allowed to keep the house.

All while trying to secure their place on campus, members with the help of alumni managed to raise $44,000 to put towards renovating the house they worked so hard to get.

“To come in the first year and raise those dollars is unheard of,” Binder said.

The campaign was spearheaded by Richard Vandehey, colony adviser and Pi Kappa Alpha alumnus, and began with a phone marathon that brought in about $6,000.

Some of the alumni that were contacted requested more information, so they began sending letters detailing specifics.

“When people realized we were legitimate, the money started rolling in,” he said. “One of the things we found out quickly was competition among alumni was a useful tool in raising money, and we used it to our full advantage.”

The University gave fraternity members permission to start tearing stuff down and rebuilding and they dedicated three weekends over the summer to do just that.

“We had guys from the 1950s come back and they were just amazing,” Upchurch said. “They were with their canes, [and] with their walkers. It was a historical take back just to see how they still cared enough about a brotherhood that they came back after 55 years.”

A house once described by Upchurch as stuck in the 70s was transformed into the best house on campus.

“It was absolutely amazing just how quickly this place turned into a mansion,” he said.

Once the renovations were complete, they could focus their energy toward their main goal.

The process of regaining the charter started last November and the majority of the steps have been completed, Upchurch said.

They put together a petition to ask the national council for a charter and have passed an inspection by PIKE chapters from the University of Toledo and Miami of Ohio accompanied by the regional president.

Their petition has been sent to every PIKE chapter in the nation to be reviewed and voted on and from there it will be sent to the supreme council who will ultimately decided if they receive a charter, Upchurch said.

“Once it gets to that stage, you’re pretty much in the clear as long as there is nothing fundamentally wrong,” he said.

In the coming weeks, the fraternity should be notified about the final decision regarding their charter.

With or without their charter, the brothers of PIKE have accomplished so much in the little time that they have been back.

One hope is that they do not become known as a stereotypical fraternity, but one that is willing and able to help, Upchurch said.

“One of the things that we strive for as a colony is that everyone is involved in something else on campus besides PIKE,” Upchurch said. “We want to put out a good name for Greek life here especially because we strive to not only make ourselves better, but we strive to make the whole Greek system grow.”

The PIKEs have not only reconstructed the interior of their house, but they have rebuilt their foundation as a fraternity to reestablish themselves as a part of this University.

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