Barry McNamara  |   Published April 21, 2016

Pi Phi’s ‘grateful’

Incredible, history, love, pride also come to mind as big date nears
  • Kallie DiTusa ’17 of Johnsburg, Ill., Sarah Wright ’19 of McHenry, Ill., and Amber Berge ’16 of Port Byron, Ill., pose in front of Monmouth College’s new Pi Beta Phi house, which will be formally dedicated on April 28.
Committing the core values of the nation’s first women’s fraternity to memory is as easy as saying, “I love having Pi Phi sisters.”

The first letters of those six words are also the first letters of the core values of Pi Beta Phi, which was founded at Monmouth College in 1867 as I.C. Sorosis. The values are:

  • Integrity;
  • lifelong commitment;
  • honor and respect;
  • philanthropic service to others;
  • personal and intellectual growth;
  • and sincere friendships.
With a new $2 million chapter house set to be dedicated on April 28, and with the 150th anniversary of the founding a year away, those six letters could stand for another set of words associated with Pi Phi at Monmouth: incredible, history, love, place to be, proud and sixty-five women.

“Incredible” is a good place to start, as it’s one of many words being used to describe the new 15-bed house. Ground was broken last May on the site across from the northeast corner of campus, and the home was ready for occupancy Easter weekend. The women of Pi Phi are beyond thrilled with the final product.

“’Grateful’ is the word for it,” said chapter president Kallie DiTusa ’17 of Johnsburg, Ill. “There are no words to describe just how great it is. It’s not just a house – it’s a home. A home away from home.”

As she spoke, DiTusa was joined in the new house by past president Amber Berge ’16 of Port Byron, Ill., and one of Pi Phi’s newest members, Sarah Wright ’19 of McHenry, Ill. They discussed the house, Pi Phi’s rich history and the role of a sorority today.

They said the house has quickly become the “place to be” for Pi Phi members, with its spacious gathering areas, including a multi-purpose chapter room, a “wonderful” kitchen and “the pink room,” a lounge just to the right of the main Euclid Avenue entrance. The house’s outstanding features can’t be contained by its walls, as an outdoor kitchen to the west of the house figures to be THE place to be prior to Fighting Scots football games, with its view of the north end zone and ample space for cookouts and gatherings.

“We’re here all the time,” DiTusa said. “People find a reason to come to the house.”

Pi Phi members say they love being in the new house, but more than that they enjoy how the house has brought them even closer together, sharing the love of those “sincere friendships.”

“I can’t quite put it into words, but there’s this crazy bond you have with the other girls,” Wright said. “Any time I have some free time, I come over here. I always laugh, and I always have a good time. I’ve met so many good people.”

Added Berge: “It’s without a doubt enhanced the sisterhood. It’s the one place you can go, and you know sisters are going to be here. I look at being in Pi Phi as having a break from the stresses of real college life. You can’t go home to your family every day, but this is a family away from home. It’s a huge support system.”

The women’s pride in their sorority’s history – which includes the off-campus Holt House, where two of the founders roomed and planned the organization – runs even deeper.

“Our history really instills pride in me,” Berge said. “The core values that started almost 150 years ago have stayed the same. I have a lot of pride and joy in being part of the first sorority, and I feel very thankful and grateful for all the people who’ve come before us and who have invested in it.”

DiTusa said: “We’re surrounded by so much history. It’s an honor for us. It’s just so natural that sometimes we don’t realize it until we go elsewhere. We’ll be talking to a group that has 300 people in their chapter, yet they’re envious of what we have here. This place means so much to so many people.”

Added Wright: “We’ll be somewhere, and people will say, ‘Wow, you get to have chapter in Holt?’ or ‘You get to be initiated in Holt?’”

Monmouth Pi Phi’s also have reason to be proud of what they’re accomplishing today. The 65 members have a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 – well above the campus average – and they are also active citizens. Their community service projects include reading to area children and distributing books, which are both part of their national organization’s focus on literacy.

“We’re really focused on ‘rethinking Greek,’” DiTusa said. “People see the negatives in the media, but we’re focused on bringing the positivity back, showing what sororities can do, and what they are doing.”

What they’re doing next week, however, is hosting what figures to be a very memorable celebration of the new house and all things Pi Phi.

“Next week is going to be so big for us,” DiTusa said. “We’re excited to see what happens.” 
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