Theta Chi returning to UNH campus
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2013 23:10
After closing down in the early ’90s due to the risky behaviors and actions of its own members, as well as of others in the community, Theta Chi is expected to rejoin the UNH Greek Life community either this coming spring or next fall.
“UNH is a great school, definitely a school that we felt we should have a chapter at,” Theta Chi’s Senior Director of Recruitment and Expansion, JD Ford, said. “They have been wonderful to work with and we are very excited to get up there.”
The decision was made after a group of Theta Chi representatives approached MaryAnne Lustgraaf, director of the MUB and temporary coordinator of Greek Life, and other UNH staff members last winter at the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors’ Annual Conference held in Indianapolis, Ind. The conference is designed to allow different Greek headquarters or alumni to meet with various universities to talk about creating colonies or improving chapters.
“They chose to wait this long so our community could catch up with national standards,” Lustgraaf said. “Is it a perfect Greek community now? No, but it has made such strides. There are some people who make mistakes but it’s nothing like it was 10 years ago.”
These changes can be seen in the increase of GPA requirements of new members as well as in the decrease of high-risk incidents, such as alcohol abuse or hazing of new members, by the chapters.
“They are all policing themselves very well,” Lustgraaf said.
With a safer community environment acting merely as a foundation, Lustgraaf said that the success in regaining and maintaining recognition primarily depends on the support the group receives from four important outlets: the chapter’s national headquarters, the alumni of the group, the university in which the chapter is housed and the students themselves.
“Groups will approach us and we’ll talk to them. If we like what they have to say, we give them recognition and they’ll have a semester, roughly, to get everything in place,” Lustgraaf said. “If they don’t do it in that semester time, they lose their recognition as a student organization and have to start the process all over again.
“Simply put, if they don’t have good support from the get-go, they’ll continue to flounder in the future,” she said.
Though the two groups are still only in the planning stage of the process, Lustgraaf is hopeful that the group has the support that they need and that the members will be able to effectively integrate themselves into the community.
“They have good size chapters across the country and a good national headquarters,” she said. “They haven’t started their recruitment yet but we have some alumni, not from UNH but other chapters in the Northeast, who are interested in helping out.”
Ford, who will be helping with the recruitment process from the Indianapolis headquarters, supports these ideas, citing the impressive national growth of the fraternity.
“We have approximately 135 chapters and nine colonies across the country right now,” he said. “Just this past academic year, Theta Chi initiated more men than ever.”
Theta Chi is not the only one who has been experiencing growth, however.
“For every one chapter we’ve lost, we’ve gained two,” Lustgraaf said about UNH Greek life as a whole. “Just this year alone, we have over 1,200 members [in the 19 different, recognized chapters on campus]. This is the first time since the late 90s that we’ve seen those numbers. We’re on an upswing and I’m excited about the strides.”
For both Ford and Lustgraaf, this steady growth in both only shows the importance of Greek Life on campus in helping students find the niche they need in order to have a successful and well-rounded college experience.
“Each fraternity has its own unique experience and we’re not looking to detract from the others,” Ford said. “We strongly believe in setting our brothers up for success in their distinct career fields after graduating and encourage our brothers to look out not just for each [other], but [for] other members in the community. All we are doing is adding another opportunity for guys to get involved.”
“[Greek life] is not about having a house, it’s about having relationships with other people,” Lustgraaf said. “For certain people, Greek chapters give them the affiliation they need to make them feel like they belong. [Each chapter’s] values are different but they are all something everyone should want to have.”