Building a Legacy: Flagler Colony Becomes First Greek Organization in College’s History

Lambda Chi Alpha’s colony at Flagler College is changing the game and leaving quite the legacy.

Lambda Chi will be the first fraternity at Flagler. In fact, it will be the first Greek organization entirely. That is not something the 20 men who became associate members last month are taking lightly.

“Right now, we’re the only (fraternity on campus), so we have a lot to uphold,” said Jared Cross who was part of the interest group that fought to bring Greek Life to Flagler’s campus. “We have to maintain a good reputation which shouldn’t be too hard because we have such a great group of guys.”

The men hail from all over the country and Canada, with most from the Northeast.

“It’s a big deal, especially since it’s never happened here before,” he said. “It makes me feel like I have a lot to look forward to and a lot to live up to.”

Flagler’s Vice President of Student Services Daniel Stewart said the pressure is on them now.

“Today, you’ve got to be able to show that you are productive,” Stewart said. “If Flagler College is going to go out there and sell the fact that Lambda Chi Alpha is the fraternity on our campus, then they’ve got to have a sterling reputation.”

So far, they are on the right track.

Photos by Taylor Grayson
Flagler is a small liberal arts college in St. Augustine, Fla.

Flagler — an all-girls college in the late 1960s and 1970s — still struggles to recruit men, and the administration will admit part of that is because they haven’t offered Greek Life. The men in the colony believe a fraternity will attract more men to campus.

“One of the biggest problems on campus has been retention, especially among freshman and sophomore men,” said Colin Bigelow, the colony’s treasurer. “Part of that was a lack of sporting events and part of it was a lack of school spirit, so by creating a fraternity, we hoped that we could increase that retention rate and increase the men to women ratio.”

They looked at several different fraternities before landing on Lambda Chi.

“We knew that being the first fraternity and Greek organization on Flagler’s campus that it would need to correspond closely with Flagler’s beliefs,” he said. “Lambda Chi was the best fit we could find.”

For them, the quality of men who join is top priority. They must be in it for the right reasons. It’s not about numbers.

“We’re looking for quality over quantity,” Bigelow said.

The men have already hosted the largest tailgate on campus in more than a decade, assisted with the college’s bystander intervention training and helped move students into their dorms.

They are doing their part off campus, too. They’re helping feed the homeless in St. Augustine and have supported and raised money for a brother who was diagnosed with bone cancer.

“We have a really strong culture of giving back here at Flagler College, and that seemed to be a big focus of Lambda Chi,” Stewart said. “So that’s kind of what peaked my interest the most to follow through with this.”

In the evolution of Flagler — they’ll celebrate 50 years next year — he thought it was time the administration took a look at Greek Life and considered embracing it as part of the campus community.

“In the evolution of our college, it is the right time,” Stewart said.

Fellow administrator Dirk Hibler, Flagler’s Dean of Students, is a Lambda Chi alumnus.

Flagler’s Dean of Students Dirk Hibler is a Lambda Chi alumnus. He supported his students in their decision to make Lambda Chi the first fraternity in the history of the college.

“I told them I was a Lambda Chi, so naturally that was one of the fraternities we looked at,” Hibler said. “Once they looked at the website and we started talking to other people who are Lambda Chi’s, they decided it’s the fraternity they wanted to go with.”

Ultimately, he said, it came down to which fraternity did the most community service, and the men were blown away by Lambda Chi’s commitment to it.

There is also a strong alumni base in the Jacksonville/St. Augustine area — 2,400 alumni within 100 miles of campus.

“They’re very strong. They want to go out and achieve things in the community. They want to be part of a legacy here at the college,” Hibler said. “Lambda Chi, they felt, offered the uniqueness they were looking for.”

Hibler is proud the fraternity he’s devoted his life to is the one the men chose to bring to the campus he has called home for 15 years.

“We’re a very small college of about 2,500 students, so having Lambda Chi on this campus and having it be at the forefront, I couldn’t ask for a better group of young men and the best fraternity we can offer,” Hibler said. “I want to see all of these guys succeed.”

The men joined for various reasons.

Many of them joined as a way to make more male friends.

John Clark went to an all-boys high school, so Flagler was a culture shock for him.

“I had a real sense of brotherhood there, so coming to a small (female dominated) school like this, I kind of missed it,” Clark said. “Having a good group of guys to hang out with is something that’s really important to me.”

Others were excited about the opportunity to build a legacy, like High Alpha Mike McNulty. He is graduating this spring, but wanted to get the ball rolling before he puts on his cap and gown and starts the next chapter of his life.

High Alpha Mike McNulty talks about laying the groundwork for Lambda Chi to become the first fraternity at Flagler in January on the college’s Florida campus.

“We’re building a legacy with the 20 guys we have now,” McNulty said. “These guys are outstanding. There’s so much loyalty, so much brotherhood.”

For some, it kind of fell in their lap.

“I met the guys on freshman move-in day actually, and thank God for that because I don’t know where I’d be without them,” said Jarred Kent, a freshman associate member.

“The specific thing about Lambda Chi that made me want to join was the aspect of patriotism,” he continued. “Lambda Chi’s are proud of something, and not too many people are proud of much anymore. So with Lambda Chi being there as a constant morale boost of patriotism and also of brotherhood, I was sold on it.”

He knows that for the rest of his life, this group of guys will have his back.

“I will always have someone I can constantly turn to who isn’t my family and who isn’t God either,” Kent said. “They’ll always be there because they’re my brothers.”

Nick Alfi considered transferring before he met this group of guys. Now, he’s proud of all that they have accomplished.

“I would have never thought that we would have done this a year or two ago,” Alfi said. “It’s kind of surreal honestly.”

Recruitment Specialist Brett Turner spent three weeks this semester helping the colony transition into its next phase.

“This group of guys got together and reached out to us to bring us here,” Turner said. “So it’s interesting to work with a group that has already set the stage a little bit. A lot of stuff is already established.”

“I’ve been working with them to turn them into what we expect from a Lambda Chi Alpha chapter,” he continued. “I have been really impressed so far.”

He helped them identify the type of individuals they would like to recruit. They have to pursue the values they’re looking for and not be willing to accept less, Turner said, especially considering Lambda Chi is the only option at Flagler.

Originally, about 40 men were recruited. Only half of those men remain.

“The core group of guys told them if you’re not in this for the right reasons and if you’re not going to uphold Lambda Chi’s values, there’s the door,” Turner said.

Even though he is on the road again, he will continue to help them recruit leading up to initiation in April.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing them set an identity for Greek Life here at Flagler,” Turner said. “I’m excited to see them continue to prove people wrong.”

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