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2006 Chapter News

October, 12 2006

Undergraduate Chapter in Crisis

Every so often our chapter goes through a crisis that ultimately results in change. This is one of those times. The chapter now faces three major challenges:

  1. The chapter faces reorganization after being suspended by the International Headquerters (IHQ) for risk management violations (alcohol, hazing) during the 2005-2006 academic year.
  2. The chapter has accumulated significant debt through inability to pay bills.
  3. The chapter house has been closed and its soundness and longevity are in question.

We’ve seen weaker fraternities on campus fold at the first signs of adversity. Men from PA Alpha Delta will see this as an opportunity to make long-term improvements that will see us through another 89 years. 

State of the Chapter

The crisis that the chapter now faces can be attributed to a number of cumulative failures, a disregard for regulations, and lack of risk management. Accounts from the International Headquarters (IHQ) and those close to the chapter indicate an overall lack of leadership and accountability from the brotherhood. It seems the “bad element” of the house had a commanding influence over the brothers.

Not to absolve the chapter of responsibility, but Pi Lam, like other fraternities, faces an increasingly challenging climate due to bad publicity about alcohol abuse and hazing, changing student values, liability, and contentious university officials.

Certainly the current state of the chapter is disheartening. As a body, the chapter failed. But individually, there is a core of sensible, well-meaning and well-behaved undergraduates.

In the spring of 2007, the chapter will be reorganized. Key alumni and the IHQ will determine the merits of brothers wishing to continue their affiliation with Pi Lambda Phi. Those who have demonstrated the best characteristics of brotherhood and willingness to take the chapter in a positive direction will be reinstated. Others will be shown the door.

Alumni Involvement – Have we done enough?

What makes a fraternity unique from other college organizations is that it perpetuates itself through lifelong membership and involvement, hence our motto, “Not four years, but a lifetime.”

For the last few years the alumni have provided little positive influence, support, or guidance to the undergraduates with the exception of a few dedicated individuals. The undergraduate chapter has thrived in eras when it had strong alumni support. Now more than ever, the chapter needs active oversight and new focus. I don’t think the house is that much different than we remember it, except for this lack of alumni presence and knowledge.

“What a shame that a few bad apples have to spoil a good time for everyone by breaking the rules.”

Is this a case of a few “bad apples?” As undergrads, we’ve all struggled with brothers who put their own selfish needs above the welfare of the chapter. A minority of drunks can wield a lot influence in a house full of 18 to 22 year-olds. I think each one of us can recall not always making the best decisions at that age.  Faced with situations that pit brother against brother, I’m sure the undergraduates would have embraced the support of their alumni.

Part of your decision to get involved has to be based on a belief in the ideals of Pi Lambda Phi and an understanding that we can rebuild with a core of brothers who share those ideals.

It is evident that fraternities must change in conjunction with societal norms and expectations. Pi lam can no longer afford to be the “black sheep” of the greek community under the scrutiny they receive. Alumni can be instrumental in setting new standards of behavior and breaking with those traditions that are deemed detrimental. 

Getting Involved

Ultimately, you must decide for yourself if you have the time and inclination to help the chapter. When I stepped down as Chapter Advisor more than five years ago, I didn’t know if I’d ever be motivated enough to want to invest my time again. My most recent communications with brothers, who are overwhelmingly concerned and willing to help, has convinced me to get involved.

Temple University without an active Pi Lam chapter is not something I can accept without giving my best effort to rebuild. I want to support what Pi Lam stands for and what it’s meant to me. I hope you do too.

Recognizing that we are one of the strongest and most resilient Pi Lambda Phi chapters, the IHQ is willing to support us to make necessary improvements. The IHQ has been successful reorganizing other chapters with the help of alumni. Two years ago the chapter at Baldwin-Wallace College was successfully reorganized. That chapter won the Outstanding Chapter Award at this year’s Convention. This was the due primarily to the contributions of several excellent alumni.

Getting Organized

Putting the chapter back on its feet will require alumni brothers who are actively "in service" to this effort and can afford the time investment that it requires. The first step is to formalize our alumni organization. We need to elect an Executive Board of four officers: President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary, as stipulated in the Constitution of the PA Alpha Delta Alumni Association. Officer roles and responsibilities are outlined in the Chapter Constitution.

Elections will be held on Friday, November 3 at this year’s Kovner Memorial Banquet. Any active member in the alumni association can run for office. Kovner invitations are in the mail and admission fee to the Kovner Banquet will include your 2006 alumni dues.

Once elected, the alumni executive board will be empowered to create committees to address the specific areas of need (e.g., chapter reorganization, finance, housing). Ideally, each committee will have a chairman, two additional members, and as many volunteers as needed.

The Alumni Association is currently seeking qualified individuals to serve as officers (2-year term) and committee members and volunteers. Please consider serving in some capacity.

The House

A number of factors have contributed to the deterioration of the Chapter House at 2000 North Broad that Pi Lam has called home since 1969. Wear and tear, abuse, age, neglect, and tougher L&I requirements all add up to time and expense. Whether or not the house will or can continue to serve our needs is in question.

Chad Cheleden, currently the sole member of the PA Alpha Delta House Corporation, ordered the house closed following the spring semester due to delinquent finances and extensive damages. Chad had no other choice considering the utilities and status of the chapter’s charter.  Chad has spent countless hours of dedication to the chapter managing every aspect of the House Corporation, an overwhelming endeavor for anyone. It is now our duty to help him out with those duties and responsibilities.

There have been initial assessments stating that the house is no longer a viable option due to the potential cost of addressing damage repair, general maintenance, and safety issues. We must evaluate the best solution of the facilities for the chapter’s needs. 

At this point we are working with the IHQ to nominate additional brothers with appropriate experience on the PA Alpha Delta House Corporation to continue studying our options and come up with the best solution for the brotherhood.

With your help, Pi Lam can be the “House that Leads” once again.

Pi Lam truly shaped my life and helped me become the person I am. Most of my closest friends, almost 15 years after graduating, are still those I call “brother.” I want to try to make sure other Temple undergraduates have that opportunity, now and in the future.

In closing, I’d like to quote a passage from the Pi Lambda Phi New Member Manual, which aptly defines our role as alumni:

“The ultimate continuing strength of a college fraternity rests with its alumni members. The chapter's undergraduates come and go, its leaders change, its programs modified, but its alumni maintain a lifelong association that ends only with death. As each generation dies, a new one matures to provide the continuity that perpetuates a fraternity. Alumni members are keepers of the tradition, preferred stockholders in enterprise, the mark of its accomplishments."

Page Updated: 1/22/08