A Home Without A House
A chapter house can be a significant point of discussion when selling the fraternity experience. The chapter house can serve as a central meeting place, a place to share meals, or even a hub for social activities that can promote Sig Tau to potential new members, parents, and even the friends you will make during your undergraduate years. However, something to keep in mind is that while there are ways to use the chapter house to your advantage during recruitment, four walls is not what makes a chapter whole.
“We’ve had a house since I was initially looking at fraternities as a freshman” says Nathan Yamaguchi, Alabama. Nathan graduated this year and is the 2022 Elsworth C. Dent Man of the Year.
During Nathan’s freshman year, he was attracted to Epsilon Phi by the opportunity to lead and the brotherhood promoted from within the chapter, but their chapter house was also an appealing factor for him. Epsilon Phi is about to head into their second year as a chapter-without-four-walls on a campus where that can often make or break a group, but instead of allowing it to impede their brotherhood or impact their recruitment efforts, here are ways they’ve been able to not only remain afloat but continue to thrive.
“At first, the biggest hiccup that we ran into was not having a central place to gather anymore. I was the President through that time, so keeping morale high was the hardest thing for us to navigate. That led to us realizing that we had to start being more intentional with how we interacted with each other.”
Instead of having a central place to gather, the brothers of Epsilon Phi started to plan consistent brotherhood dinners, whether out to a restaurant in Tuscaloosa, or hopping between different brothers’ off campus housing spaces. They also began planning study sessions in the libraries on campus and holding their chapter meetings in the rooms in the student union.
“Something you realize when you don’t have the house as a selling point is you get to talk about what actually makes your brotherhood mean something. The value of professionalism and leadership through acts of service and the fellowship of your brothers are the real value that you’re offering on campus. These are the things that makes Sig Tau different than the other fraternities who do still have houses” says Nathan.
While the Epsilon Phi Chapter is currently without a recognized campus house, they have partnered with WPN National Housing Company to help secure a future permanent home on campus. Many chapters approach WPN interested in getting a chapter house, however it’s important to realize the philosophy of “you build it, they will come” isn’t always true. Adding a house is great, but it also comes with a handful of new situations that can get sticky. Starting with a solid chapter culture of an intentional, supportive brotherhood, with minimal member safety concerns, top academics, financial steadiness, and strong leadership all help make easing into a house more manageable. WPN would evaluate when supporting a chapter’s housing efforts and offers many resources to help guide chapters through their housing transition so it can be as smooth as possible.
You may be in a chapter with a house firmly nestled atop a hill on your campus or your chapter’s gathering space is reserving a room in the student union. Many of our chapters have ways to exercise their brotherhood that are all unique to the campuses in which they exist. However, something to keep in mind is that house does not always equal a home, it’s the relationship you have amongst your brothers and the way that is expressed that will continue to attract new members as you head into recruitment this fall.
ABOUT SIGMA TAU GAMMA FRATERNITY
Founded at the University of Central Missouri on June 28, 1920, Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity celebrated 100 years of brotherhood in 2020. In the last 100 years, the organization has called 198 campuses home and has more than 73,000 initiated members. With a current presence on 63 campuses from coast to coast, our membership includes nearly 2,500 undergraduate men. The Headquarters, which is home to the Fraternity, Foundation, and WPN Housing Company, is located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Visit http://sigtau.org for additional information.