Colony Profile: University of North Texas, A Story of Diversity
Nestled among the trees and brick pathways, a stone’s throw away from Dallas, lies the University of North Texas (UNT). Anyone who is familiar with the school will tell you that students and alumni alike bleed green: it’s just a way of life.
Between the assortment of historical buildings mixed with the modern, campus is a bustling hub, full of students with different goals and their own story. Walk to the outer edges of the school, and you will find the towering structures that compose Greek row. Scanning the impressive houses adorned with letters, one might wonder where the Lambda Chi Alpha house rests, but another glance will prove what the eyes did not miss: there is no house present for Lambda Chi Alpha, a fraternity which has not been on campus for over five years.
With the help of the dedicated team of educational leadership consultants (ELCs), Chris Pockette and Taylor Krivas, the recolonization of Lambda Chi at UNT is underway and thriving. The process has been nothing short of an roller coaster ride, however.
The first question which may come to mind is where does staff even begin with spreading the word about a new fraternity? With a multitude of other student organizations on campus, it would be difficult for any new group to be seen.
Cue the search for the perfect first few members.
“It’s been a really interesting process, because we have had to go from ground up in terms of finding the members who want to join and actually teach them how to run a fraternity,” said Pockette. “So, we’ve been here for the past month and a half, really, and in that time, the first three weeks were really about recruitment…”
For a fraternity returning to a campus like UNT, both ELCs look for men who are heavily involved not only on campus, but in their community as well: men who will uphold the values of Lambda Chi.
Pockette and Krivas began by talking to administration and other organizations to find their first core members. Along the way, the most challenging part was catching a person’s attention.
“You get a lot of rejection with this, especially with this position, so we are told no a lot,” recounted Krivas. “That’s totally ok, but after the 30th or 40th call you have made in the night, it gets a little bit disheartening; so that is the biggest challenge we tend to get.”
But when those first core members do stop to listen, the rest is somewhat of a snowball effect; those members tell their friends, recommend members of their other organizations, spread the news by word of mouth, etc.
The members who have adopted the ways of Lambda Chi so far come from all walks of life, which as Pockette describes it, is the most ideal situation for a new colony.
“We have a lot of things that we need to start implementing and putting into place, so finding people who are non-traditional, international students, older gentlemen, those are the guys who are able to give us a new perspective that we wouldn’t get from just having freshmen and sophomores who are all from the same area,” said Pockette. “We really tried to diversify our group and find people who have previous military experience, or are a little bit older and can provide a mentoring opportunity to some of the other guys.”
One such member is Kent Souriyasak, a graduate student pursuing his masters in Public Administration. For Souriyasak, the lure of Lambda Chi was the opportunity to serve as a role model for the younger men in the chapter, effectively building a strong, positive atmosphere.
“I think from my perspective as a graduate student, since I’ve kind of experienced the undergraduate portion, I wanted to be a part of it and kind of show the younger guys how to connect and network within the university, but also with friends and other brothers of Lambda Chi,” said Souriyasak. “I thought it would be just a really good mentorship.”
In addition to graduate students, the current members of the UNT Lambda Chi colony include international students, ROTC members, presidents and leaders of other organizations and business fraternities, and members of the runner’s club and debate team.
While to the outsider it might seem like a large melting pot of different personalities and interests, that is exactly what makes it interesting and able to work.
“I think they all bring eclectic ideology behind everything and they are going to bring everything they have from other organizations together, and that’s my favorite thing to see how that all melds and meshes,” said Krivas. “It’s always interesting bringing 35 complete strangers into a group.”
Pockette and Krivas have done the lion’s share when it comes to recruiting, but it now becomes the responsibility of each member to continue with their journey. Initiation of 32 members took place on April 1, the first step for these men on a lifetime journey.
The colony will now be in charge of itself, once Pockette and Krivas leave, but not without the help of an alumni base 1400-strong. For the new colony, the assistance of alumni will be key in their continued success.
“It’s like anything else; you can figure it out for yourself, but if you are nudged and pushed in the right direction, it always helps,” said Eric Eversgerd, alum involved with UNT’s recolonization. “If you have a belief system and a bunch of guys who are saying this is really what you should be doing to be successful in life, as an undergrad and an alumni, and push them forward in the right direction, it’s a tremendous help.”
The fate of Lambda Chi Alpha at UNT now rests in the hands of 32 immensely different brothers, but the bond of brotherhood has already started to grow. High Alpha, Alex Navarrette, has big plans for his colony, including having the chapter chartered, securing a chapter house, but more importantly, giving his members the true Lambda Chi experience, whatever that might mean for them.
“This is their experience, they have every right to make it what they want to see and get to lead the way for other fraternities and sororities on campus,” said Krivas. “I think that’s really exciting for them.”
So, the next time you look to the skyline of the UNT campus, you just might see the new and improved Lambda Chi house, full of ambition and potential.