Fraternity returns to campus sans alcohol

Michelle Anstett

A whole new group of Monmouth College men will embrace the ideals of brotherhood, but they will do it completely free of alcohol.

The college announced Wednesday that 18 students have been undergoing the process of re-colonizing one of 15 former chapters. After several months of work and presentations by four national fraternities -- Phi Kappa Psi, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Sigma Chi and Phi Delta Theta -- the students chose Phi Delta Theta as the college’s fourth active fraternity.

“Phi Delta blew us away the first night” of presentations, said sophomore Demarcko Butler, the fraternity’s recruitment chairman. “They really set the tone for the rest of the fraternities.”

The fraternity, which existed on the Monmouth campus from 1871 to 1884, will officially re-colonize in March. An installation ceremony is set to take place in the fall.

Phi Delta Theta is “the fraternity that’s seen in the world as courageous” for implementing a strict no-alcohol policy with all its chapters in 2000, said Michelle Merritt-Gilbert, assistant dean of students at Monmouth College. At that point, national leaders required that all chapters, current and future, be alcohol-free. While many fraternities have gone alcohol-free, Merritt-Gilbert said most don’t require current chapters to follow the rule. Instead, those organizations only require any future chapters to colonize under no-alcohol policies.

Phi Delta Theta was established in 1848 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. It was founded on the principles of friendship, sound learning and rectitude.

The search for a fraternity “first started out with developing a small group of men . . . that we thought fit our idea of a strong value system and a desire to be involved in the community and on campus,” said senior Benjamin Sauer, who will serve as the chapter’s president.

There have been rumblings, however, around campus that members of the three existing fraternities are unhappy with the addition for various reasons, including the fear that a fourth fraternity will take away from their recruitment efforts.

Currently, only 22 percent of males at Monmouth College participate in the Greek system, according to Sauer, and over half of its male alumni were members of a Greek organization. With the addition of a fourth fraternity, he and his fellow members hope to change that number.

“There’s a great disparity between the number of alumni that are Greek and the number of current students” who join fraternities, he stated. “We chose to bring this new fraternity . . . because we felt as if another niche should be added to the fraternity system. We think the Greek system will be revitalized and energized by the addition.”

Current fraternities at the college also are at odds with the no-alcohol policy of Phi Delta Theta, thinking it will put undue pressure upon them to do the same.

Sauer said he had not heard anything to that effect, but stated that “We did not (choose an alcohol-free chapter) out of an inclination to be better. It is something that we personally all desire and are on the same page with.

“It is merely a personal preference and not an attack on the other fraternities.”