Pi Chi stresses brotherhood in battle with national board
Published: Thursday, September 4, 2008
Updated: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 21:03
The Duquesne University Pi Chi chapter of Alpha Phi Omega stress two main principles: tradition and brotherhood. Starting as a scouting fraternity in 1966, Alpha Phi Omega has grown to more than 360 chapters nationwide and has more than 410 alumni from the Pi Chi Chapter alone. The Pi Chi Chapter, however, has been facing a dire situation since early 2005 when Alpha Phi Omega's executive national officers announced that every chapter that is currently all male will start having to make steps towards becoming coed.
Since Pi Chi's founding, it has been all-male and many of the brothers feel it would thwart the original traditions and affect the foundation of the chapter if they were to allow female members.
"As a whole, [my brothers and I] have always taken a firm stand on what we believed in," President Lee Filip said. "In order to preserve the history of our chapter, staying all- male would be in our best interest."
Not only are the leaders and brothers of the Pi Chi Chapter actively against becoming a coed service fraternity, but multiple alumni have also supported their fellow brothers during the tenure of this controversial situation.
"Our chapter as a whole has been actively against going coed," Filip said. "All of our alumni that we have talked to in the last couple years since we have been trying to transition have also been completely supportive of our views as they send many helpful donations.
"There is a synergy that you get with all male chapters that is just simply not there with a coed organization. With being all male, the Pi Chi Chapter of APhiO at Duquesne had something special; it was a safe place to come and do something positive for the community," Filip said.
Jeremy Embrey, an associate member of Pi Chi and a part-time senior music technology major at Duquesne, stressed the uniqueness of Pi Chi.
"APhiO currently has over 360 chapters, and only about 10 are all male. It really allows for a much different experience."
Embrey also emphasized his concern that the Pi Chi experience would be drastically changed if a coed transition were to be made.
"The chapter in a year or two would not bear any resemblance to the chapter right now," he said.
Since the national board members of Alpha Phi Omega issued a prime directive to consciously make a movement toward requiring all chapters to become coed, the Pi Chi Chapter at Duquesne has been fighting an uphill battle.
"First and foremost, it is our tradition that we are trying to save. This is what we want, and this is what the national board is ignoring. We, to a certain extent, are a self-governing body, and what happens to our chapter should be up to the brothers that are in it," Filip said.
According to the Alpha Phi Omega National Bylaws (Article III, Section 1): "Membership in Alpha Phi Omega shall be open to all students, upon the approval of the respective collegiate Chapter and after fulfilling the membership requirements prescribed by the National Fraternity and by that Chapter."
So, Pi Chi's answer to the dilemma is to start an entirely new fraternity.
Filip and Embrey, along with several other former brothers, decided to take matters into their own hands by constructing, from scratch, an original national fraternity called Alpha Delta. The new fraternity will qualify as a social organization with a focus on service, Filip said, since Pi Chi was previously the only all-male service fraternity on campus. Alpha Delta currently has three chapters including Drexel University and the University of Maine, two other chapters that faced the same quandary as Duquesne.
Once they figured out a solution, Filip emphasized the passion he and his brothers displayed during the process.
"We had to rewrite all of our bylaws and all of our pledging rituals. This just shows how much a labor of love this is and how strongly we feel about it," he said. "We took road trips to Boston and Washington D.C. to meet with these other chapters to have conferences to come up with all these new things which we felt were innate to our all-male chapters. We just feel that strongly about it.