MONMOUTH, Ill. — In what is believed to be record time, the men of Monmouth College’s Illinois Gamma chapter of Phi Delta Theta have received their charter from the national organization.
The members were initiated into the fraternity at a private ceremony at the Stewart House on Nov. 14, and their chartering ceremony was held the following day.
"Phi Delt headquarters and Monmouth College have been so helpful," said chapter president Joe Moran, a sophomore from Aurora, of the group’s rapid rise from special interest group to chartered fraternity. "We are so proud to be a part of this fraternity and the Monmouth College Greek system."
Last year, 18 students began organizing a new fraternity chapter on campus. They assembled a group of qualified potential members, prepared a mission statement and assigned officers. One thing they didn’t do immediately, however, was decide which national fraternity they would select. Four national fraternities, each of which once had active chapters at Monmouth, visited campus last fall to make presentations to the students and MC administration.
Phi Delta Theta, which previously existed at Monmouth from 1871 to 1884, emerged as the clear choice to become Monmouth’s fourth active fraternity. The chapter was officially re-colonized in March and 36 charter members (including three students who graduated last May) were initiated last weekend.
No matter which fraternity was selected, it had already been determined by the students that it would be alcohol-free. Phi Delta Theta prides itself on being the first male Greek letter society to adopt alcohol-free housing. The students felt that Phi Delta Theta exemplified everything they were looking for in a fraternity, including a strong national organization and a major focus on academics and leadership.
To be a member, Monmouth students need to fulfill several expectations, including a minimum grade-point average of 2.5, membership in another student organization and completion of 16 hours of community service.
Already, the chapter reports the highest GPA on campus among Greek organizations, and one-third of its members are executive officers in campus organizations.
"We came together as fellow students looking to better ourselves, and we now live as brothers looking to better each other," said Anthony St. Clair, a sophomore from Overland Park, Kansas, who serves as the chapter’s historian and philanthropy chairman.
Phi Delta Theta began in 1848 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. It was founded on the three cardinal principles of friendship, sound learning and rectitude. Its mission statement elaborates on those principles, stating that the fraternity was organized for the cultivation of friendship among its members, the acquirement individually of a high degree of mental culture and the attainment personally of a high standard of morality.
Also known as Phi Delt, the fraternity has initiated more than 228,000 members in its 160-year history. It currently has 160 chapters, with more than one-fifth of that total being added since 2000. Seven of its chapters are in Illinois, including the Delta-Zeta chapter at Knox College, and nearly 1,000 of the fraternity’s alumni live within a 100-mile radius of Monmouth. Among its most famous alumni are President Benjamin Harrison, Lou Gehrig, Frank Lloyd Wright and Neil Armstrong.
In addition to its alcohol-free policy, Phi Delta Theta has also implemented an anti-hazing campaign and is involved in several philanthropic endeavors, including support of research on ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
While Phi Delta Theta has a long and impressive history, so does the Greek system at Monmouth. Two national women’s fraternities, Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma, originated at Monmouth College in 1867 and 1870, respectively, and remain active. The addition of Phi Delta Theta – which joins Alpha Tau Omega, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Zeta Beta Tau as fraternities on campus – continues a revitalization of the Greek system at Monmouth. A chapter of the women’s fraternity Alpha Xi Delta was reestablished in 1997 after having been discontinued in 1980.