Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Greek Life at the University of New Orleans Expands With New Fraternity

Greek Life at the University of New Orleans is expanding with the addition of another fraternity.

"We just saw more growth....For a campus our size the numbers show we are ready for another chapter," said Dale O'Neill, director of the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership. "It's really exciting to bring back a chapter that after Katrina died out on campus. That's the really cool part."

Greek Life at UNO has expanded more than 30 percent the last three years, said O'Neill. This fall, most of the University's 14 fraternity and sorority chapters will number their memberships in the 40s and 50s.

"That's the largest we've been since Katrina," O'Neill said, adding that she is bringing in big guns to help ensure further growth and support. "We'll have the alumni on campus recruiting. We'll also be having members from the Tulane University big brother chapter on campus recruiting."

The Inter Fraternity Council is made up of one representative from each fraternity and meets on a weekly basis, O'Neill said. The council must vote that they want to add a new fraternity chapter at UNO. Yet, the council does not take new additions lightly. They work carefully to ensure a sustained pace and growth. This spring, the InterFraternity Council created an expansion committee to review applications to invite a new fraternity onto campus in the fall.

"They felt a sense of duty and awareness that they were responsible for picking the best fraternity to come back on campus," O'Neill said. "And I think that brought a lot of pride. They have been working so hard the last two or three years to build up Greek life and to expand that this was the final point that yes, the chapters have grown so much that we have to bring another chapter on campus."

The expansion committee included a representative from each fraternity, the IFC president, O'Neill and LeeAnne Sipe, assistant director of the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership. They sent "a call-out" letter to all national fraternities, inviting them to apply to start a chapter on campus.

They received a dozen applications from all over the country.

Each week, the committee met to review applications against a series of criteria: alumni support; local chapters at Tulane, Loyola or Southeastern Universities; philanthropy and risk management strategies. The committee reviewed documents such as anti-hazing and alcohol awareness policies — andguidelines on how to throw social events and national events.

A key criteria was affordability for UNO students, O'Neill said.

The committee narrowed their choices to three fraternities. Representatives came to campus and delivered presentations to representatives from all chapters of UNO Greek Life, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Brett Kemker, the IFC board of directors and the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership.

"It was an extensive day," O'Neill said. "Then each representative returned to their chapter to talk about who they want to cast a vote for."

This week, O'Neill received official approval to invite Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity onto campus.

Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity had an active membership on campus prior to Hurricane Katrina, O'Neill said. Following the disaster, and a diaspora, the fraternity struggled to maintain active membership and the chapter died out as members graduated.

Now, the organization is receiving huge alumni support, including support from Dr. Fred Rodriguez, president of the UNO International Alumni Association, she said. Starting Thursday, UNO alumni who belonged to the fraternity — and alumni from around the U.S. — will visit campus seeking recruits to revive the organization at UNO. Members of the Tulane University chapter will also come help recruit and be visible on campus during all New Student Orientations sessions, she said.

Mark Logsdon, a consultant to the national office of the Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity will come and stay in New Orleans for months at a time to get the fraternity up and running, O'Neill said. He will be living in Privateer Place.

"They hope to get at least 10 members in the fall and I think if they get 10 they will be up for success," said O'Neill, who meets regularly with chapter presidents to help them plan their work, fun and philanthropy.


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